Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Party Flowers—No Sweat

Resist the etiquette police, and take your hostess flowers.

Several columns appeared this season advising party-goers NOT to bring flowers. ???? (If I were conspiratorially-minded I’d think this was a plot of wine merchants and fancy jam peddlers.)

“If the host wants to have flowers, he will have flowers,” said one domestic guru. “There’s nothing worse than being handed flowers and having to find a vase to put them in. It’s so distracting to the host. If you really want to bring flowers, call them in advance.”

What about the host (ess) who didn’t have time to buy flowers, or couldn’t afford them, or was absorbed by a meditation upon ice trays? I can think of several thousand things “worse than being handed flowers.”

Over the weekend my friend Cathy came to dinner, bringing a glass vase of yellow roses and blue spider chrysanthemums. Instant festivity.

I wrapped a few roses to take to friend Caroline’s Rose Bowl party. She was gracious and happy to see them, went off looking for a vase, then had to drop everything to greet more guests. Somebody put it together: vase, tapwater, roses. All’s well, better than well—with fresh flowers to distract from football.

Posted by Julie on 01/02 at 11:23 AM
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Saturday, January 01, 2005

“Liberating” graveside bouquets

Ethicist Randy Cohen delivers his verdict on pilfering cemetery flowers.

imageFrederic Chopin’s grave

Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris

Two gentlemen I very much admire—and whose identities I’ll protect—have admitted taking flowers from cemeteries to give to living loved ones. J. told me that in his youth, he stole flowers from a graveyard to give his mother on Mothers Day. And T., now in his 80s, remembers taking a few cemetery blossoms and turning them into a corsage for his date during The Depression years. I rather admire these floral Robin Hoods.

But recently ethicist Randy Cohen took a dimmer view. (Interesting that since everyone has dispensed with politeness, Miss Manners is out of work and we have a man telling us right from wrong.) Here’s his recent column, On Ethics

“Q. My son and I were visiting Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Just before closing time, I wanted to liberate a particularly lovely bouquet of roses left at Chopin’s gravestone. My son was aghast that I would steal from the dead, and he rejected my explanation that the bouquet was on its way to a garbage can, so it might as well make living people happy in our hotel room. Who was right?


Ann Arbor, Mich.

“A. Applying your logic, I can break into your hotel room, find an attractive sweater you won’t wear many more times and steal it—sorry, liberate it—to make a living person happy: me. Your son was rightly dismayed. It is not uncommon for flowers to remain on a grave for weeks, gradually withering, a sad metaphor for the death the bouquet is meant to memorialize. Your proposed rose grab would not only dishonor the dead, it would also thwart the intention of the living. Even if those blossoms would be discarded imminently, you must wait until they actually are before snatching them. Eventually you, too, will go to that great garbage can in the sky, but that doesn’t allow me to truncate your allotted span…”

Posted by Julie on 01/01 at 12:54 PM
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