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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

A Bouquet of Flowers for You


It’s officially summer (in the northern hemisphere, that is.) Let’s celebrate by reflecting on flowers! We’ll begin with a few facts. Did you know there are over 400,000 different kinds of flowers? I believe that when our Creator God first came up with the idea of flowers, she just couldn’t stop making them! I hear her saying, “I love this red rose, but I wonder how a pink one would look?… Today I think I’ll make a yellow tulip. I bet a red one would look pretty too… I always had a fondness for blue, so today I think I’ll make some blue flowers–blue bells, hyacynths, forget-me-nots. What about something in white–or orange or brown or purple?… And who says a flower has to be one color? I’m going to make some flowers striped or dotted or with colors all swirled together!” And on and on Our Creator went! As a result, flowers come in thousands of shapes, sizes, and color combinations. To demonstrate this marvelous truth, feast your eyes on these four flowers… and see if you can name them:



Aren’t they lovely? They are (from top to bottom) dahlia, tulips, columbine, and bleeding hearts.

What is the definition of a flower? A flower is the main reproductive structure of a plant. Since this isn’t a biology lesson, I’ll leave it at that. But here are some fun facts about flowers:

+ What are the 10 most beautiful flowers in the world? It depends on whose list you’re reading. Here’s one list: 1) rose 2) hydrangea 3) bleeding hearts 4) cherry blossoms 5) orchid 6) tulip 7) peony 8) lily 9) freesia 10) lotus. On that list, the sunflower was #17. Maybe you can make your own list of the ten most beautiful flowers! You can share your list below if you’d like… (hint! hint!)

rose

+ What flower has been around the longest? The archaefructus sinensis which has been around for 125 million years! It resembles a lily.

+ Going back to the ancient Greeks, humans have assigned meanings to flowers–both positive and negative: daisy or red rose (I love you truly), hyacynth (your loveliness charms me), red carnation (my heart aches for you), edelweiss (courage), geranium (stupidity–I wonder why?), begonia (beware), chamomile (patience), goldenrod (encouragement), cyclamen (goodbye), striped carnation (refusal), yellow pansy (I’m thinking of you).

+ In Holland in the 1600’s, tulip bulbs were more valuable than gold.

+ Roses are genetically related to apples, raspberries, cheeries, peaches, and almonds. (What a nice family they are!)

+ Some flowers are edible for humans: nasturtiums, violas, and day lilies, for example. And everyone knows dandelions make a tasty wine.

heather

+ Some flowers are poisonous to cats and dogs. Among these are daffodils, hyacinths, amaryllis, and oleander.

+ Tulip blulbs can be substituted for onions in a recipe.

+ Some flowers can actually hear bees buzzing. (I wonder how they discovered this. Maybe they gathered different flowering plants together in a lab, brought in a bee, and said to the flowers, “If you can hear the bee buzzing, raise your leaf!”)

+ Some flowers are thermogenic (they generate heat) to attract pollinators.

+ The tallest sunflower ever recorded was 30 feet 1 inch tall. It was grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer of Germany and verified in 2014. What’s even more amazing, Herr Schiffer had already broken the record three times before!!!

Sunflowers

+ Many flowers are an essential food source for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. And many flowers rely on those same pollinators for their survival. (If only we human beings appreciated our reliance on one another for survival… and our reliance on the rest of the earth community for our survival!)

+ And lastly, some flowers are known to emit a faint humming noise inaudible to the human ear. So, while you’re talking to your flowers, they might be humming back to you! How crazy is that?

Poppies along Lake Geneva

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PS: This past Saturday we celebrated the closing Mass for Notre Dame College in South Euclid, OH. It was founded in 1922 by the Sisters of Notre Dame, my congregation. Originally established for women, it went co-ed in more recent years. The closing was a sad occasion for many–especially those of us who graduated from NDC or who served there in any capacity during those 102 years. At the same time, we give thanks for all the men and women who studied there and for the faculty and staff who ministered to them with such devotion throughout Notre Dame’s long history.

Notre Dame College, administration building.

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Our short video (3:24 mins) is timelapse photography of all kinds of flowers blooming. It’s put out by National Geographic. For me, the dark background and the gentle music only enhance the beauty of these images:

I hope some of you will respond below to this refection. The flowers and I are eager to hear from you!

36 Responses

  1. We love flowers too. (Sylvia much more than me.) While walking among the giant Sequoias of the Sierras two weeks ago, we were in awe by everything about them. The contrast of their very small cones to their age and size made us marvel. When we turned our eyes downward, we saw these rare clusters of snow plants (https://www.nationalforests.org/blog/snow-plant-nf-california) that were popping through the earth after the snow pack had receded and the ground had warmed. The snow plants, dogwoods and wildflowers were all in bloom while were there. Needless to say, we were giddy among all these new (for us) wonders of Creation.

  2. I never knew flowers could hum! Maybe I’ll try singing to them and they might hum along!
    🙂 Thank you Melannie! I am now even more grateful to God for flowers.

  3. Flowers lead me to wonder and gratitude.
    83 petals spread across lace …just from a single blossom in an anniversary bouquet…daffodils the size of my thumbnail…in a neighbor’s garden …giant zinnias started in a makeshift greenhouse…a little red wagon…during the pandemic…roses all over the hems of our twins baptismal dresses
    Praise God from whom all blessings flow

  4. Beautiful ,soothing video to begin the day! I was also sad to see Notre Dame College close. I graduated from NDC in 1953. I have fond memories of my days there as well as the excellent education I received!

  5. 🌹 Thank you so much for your writing, the fascinating information, the beautiful and stunning video, and for all of your emails.

    I am most grateful for today and always. 💕

  6. Good morning, Sr. Melannie…
    Good morning, all…

    So much beauty and so much beautiful information! Wow! That dahlia looks like a Fibonacci sequence! One of my favorite flowers is the geranium — uh-oh! What’s that say about me! The film is spectacular! Each flower’s opening like a standing ovation! I can’t help it! I keep planting exclamation points! One last thing: There are two rhododendrons in my yard, and their white blossom are starting to emerge. I once looked into one of the blooms and saw the golden lattice of its pollen — God’s tattoo! Thank you! Happy June!

  7. Recently, while visiting my daughter in TN, I came across a yard full of various flowering bushes, trees, & a garden of myriad flowers. On one of my morning walks, I saw Janet outside tending to her garden. I stopped & complimented her on what appeared to be an English garden. No one had ever stopped before to appreciate the fruits of her labor. Janet politely said “thank you” & that was all we needed to chat each day as I passed her house.
    During those 6 weeks we got to know each other quite well. She knew I was leaving to return home & I assured her we would meet again on my next visit. Well, I left earlier than I told her, so when she came to my daughter’s house bearing a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for me, she & my daughter became acquainted. My daughter sent me a picture & I was not only deeply touched but amazed at the beauty. Aren’t they lovely? Here is the photo: I hope you can open it.

    https://share.icloud.com/photos/0f6mSltSTYal8Hqky0eKg4TuQ

    1. Carol, What a lovely story! Moral: flowers have a way of bringing people together! I was able to open your picture of that gorgeous bouquet. I hope my readers will be able to open it too! Thank you! Melannie

  8. Thank you for all the flower facts and video. I too love flowers, grown fond of zinnias, that I grew from seed during the pandemic.

    I’m sorry to see that your college closed. A sad day for you and the sisters. God bless you!

  9. Exquisite! Thank you Sr. Melanie, I haven’t seen time lapse photography in a long time!

  10. Sr. Melanie, your knowledge is amazing. You share it so well. Blessings and a prayer. Sr. Julie, osf,Tiffin.

  11. Thank you so much, Sister Melanie. What a truly beautiful way to begin this Spring week! Peace and love to all.

  12. Good Morning Sister Melannie!
    As each flower opened, they reminded me of a dance…..some curtsied before they began to dance, and others were just so eager to start they jumped right in!

  13. Melannie,
    What a treat! Your words, the enchanting time lapse video and my recall of the words of an old song- …the ones I love are many colors, the ones I love are flowers bright…moved me to be grateful for the varied blooming personalities that share the garden I grow in.
    Thank you for your research and reflection.
    Annemarie

  14. As I reflect on your beauty of your theme on flowers, I realized that Notre Dame College in recent years did not have flowers. And while I know all to well that in God’s plan there is always a time and a place, maybe the lack of flowers had something to do with it.

    God bless you.
    Father John

  15. I especially love the irises’ opening up beautiful and a reminder to look at all of God’s creation. Thank you

  16. Good morning,
    What an insightful article on flowers which I love! Your time-lapsed video was part of my morning meditation and spoke to me as I face another day with my husband who struggles with dementia. It brought me peace, calm and simply the inner quiet to face the day and offer prayers and love for all caregivers — may we all experience a good day.
    A bouquet 💐 for you…
    And all who were connected with NDC.

  17. Oh Sister! Flowers to me are the joy of each season! The spring, though, is my most favorite time of all as the flowers wake up after the cold Midwest winter! The tiny purple crocuses are the first to brave the cold? The bright pink zinnias and white daisies are some of my most favorite flowers because of the simplicity and fun they add to my flower gardens. This year, the Sweet Williams bloom bright magenta calling to themselves the swallowtail butterflies in our neighborhood. A mama robin built her nest into the raspberry colored clematis on the arbor growing outside our back windows. The beauty brings me to my knees in profound gratitude. What masterpieces He has created for us! What a generous and loving Father we have!
    Thank you, Sister, for the inspiration you share with us to remember God’s presence in all gifts around us!

  18. Hi Melannie,
    Hope you’re doing well.
    Thank you for the wonderful history lesson on flowers. I always remember my experience of being on retreat at your motherhouse and I was out for a walk and come across a beautiful field of sunflowers across the street from your property. That picture is forever in my mind and heart.
    My thoughts and prayers are with your community as you say goodbye to your ministry at Norte Dame college. Thank you for your education of students for 122 years. My cousin Sr. Helen Peters, SND, taught at the college. May God continue to bless and watch over your community.
    Many prayers, Jane , CSA

  19. Hello Sister Melannie – this was a very informative and interesting write up and again makes me thank God the He is so wise to give us flowers. Here in NC – the gardenias are in full bloom, lilies, and hydrangea. It is so beautiful (and smells heavenly) this time of year. I’ve always been a talker to my plants and now that I know some “hum” – well, I guess I’ll have to sing showtunes to them so they can learn them!!! God bless you for opening your reader’s eyes to the wonder around us.
    Love,
    Barb G.

  20. Sister, this was my favorite piece ever. I cannot pick a favorite flower- all beautiful. That’s why I like mixed bouquets better.

  21. Sister Melanie,
    How can anyone have a favorite flower? God created each of them , one as beautiful as the other . I love each one for its loveliness, and I think God created us to see the beauty in each other, wanting us to not to have favorites.
    Blessings and joy to you and to all who read this blog!
    Marilyn Woidat in Elmhurst Illinois

  22. Flowers bring me happiness…especially pink. I had breast cancer years ago and that is my all time favorite color of any flowers. I love every flower I see! I did enjoy the video~
    My favorites are in no particular order….bleeding hearts, my grandpa grew them. My son gave us 5 tiny plants last year from his plant, that are now flourishing!
    My husband has the green thumb and plants tulips and Amaryllis in pots in our basement all winter and I have fresh tulips until the ones come up in Spring in our garden. I love Daffodils a reminder of my Dad who passed in 1981. Other favorites are Gerbera Daisies, Lily of the valley, Dahlia’s, Begonias, Hydrangea, Carnations, Hycinths, Roses, Daisies, Iris’ and I love Lilac bushes!!! The aroma is amazing. On our early morning walk this morning, I could smell them before even seeing them. We do have one in our yard. The home I grew up in had them lined all along the driveway.
    Sorry to hear NDC closed. It is hard to close the door on the past but God has another one ready to open 🙂 God Bless you for writing these posts and sharing with us. Love Monday mornings to find your Sunflower seeds in my mailbox.

  23. Oh I think 17th is too far down the list for sunflowers, just my opinion,
    though 17 is a very good number! But sunfowers are near the top for me.
    Just my opinion, but as Howard Cossell used to say “You are certainly entitled to your opinion!
    b Luke OSB

  24. Thank you Melannie for the information about flowers, very interesting. I love all flowers and wish I could have a mixed bouquet delivered every week. Another of God’s many gifts to be grateful for. A few of my favorites are roses, daffodils (remind me of my mother), dahlias, iris, lilacs, peonies, rhododendron, daisies, & hydrangeas. I like geraniums too for their many color options and long life.
    Thanks to all for sharing. When it’s Spring it’s my favorite season…but then comes summer, then fall, ah God is good.

  25. Many many years ago, a young man who I had just started dating sent me a dozen long-stemmed red roses. They were beautiful and I thanked him…but I confessed to him, roses were not my favorite – carnations were. The next week, he bought me two dozen carnations. 🙂 Sweet man. I have grown in appreciation for many different flowers since then, but carnations always bring me the most joy.

  26. S. Melanie what a beautiful meditation on flowers. It brought back memories of my Dutch fraternal grandfather who was a propagator of peonies, Abraham Niewhenhouyzen. He named them after friends and family members. The only one we’ve found that can still be purchased is called Virginia Dare named after the first child born to immigrant parents. His most famous one was the Dr. Vander Tuk which won a silver trophy in Belgium before he came to America in the 1922. It is located in the University of Michigan Peonies Garden in Ann Arbor, MI. For this reason peonies are my favorite flower.

  27. Thank you, Sister Melannie, for the beautiful message you share about flowers, which indeed symbolize beauty to us humans. I too am happy to learn that flowers hum. Must try to listen better. In a satrical novel titled Zukeika Dobson, the author Max Beerbohm had one flower say to another in a garden something like, “Those people are quite beautiful. Too bad they don’t have souls, like us.” One more vision that prefigures eternal life, which we humans hope for, but could flowers have it too?

  28. Thanks Melannie for the beautiful flowers , lovely video and interesting facts.
    My favorite flower was not listed…Lillies of the Valley..their scent is soft and sweet.
    When I was a postulant we had “millions” ( little exaggeration ) on our motherhouse property. We would pick bouquets of them for our mothers on Mothers’ Day. It always brought them so much joy.
    Unfortunately , we still have some, but not nearly as many.
    Enjoy this beautiful , warm, sunny , flowery weather. 💐🦋🪰🌸🌺🪷🌼🌞
    With love, Josita

  29. How to make a list of favorites?? Today I’d put Siberian Iris at the top – because mine are in full bloom and the flower bed in front of our church is FULL of them blooming. Sadly they only bloom once a season. In March, while in Texas, I would definitely put Blue Bonnets at the top of the list and a bit later, Indian Blanket flowers in Texas. Later in summer (when I’m back in Minnesota) I would put geraniums at the top of the list or orange butterfly “weed” or daisies. I know God made so many because she couldn’t decide either. Thank you for this today — it is gorgeous and holy to watch how they open and fill our world with beauty.

  30. Hello Sr. Melannie….your blog this week bought back memories of the home where I grew up in upstate NY. The house was surrounded by flowers of all different varieties. Along the front were hydrangea bushes with beds of irises along side. In the back, a gorgeous peony bush. On the side, a white lilac tree and beds of lily of the valley. The fragrance from these two flowers was awesome. To this day, lily of the valley is my favorite! Unfortunately, the growing season for this flower is very short, so we don’t get to enjoy them very long.
    My condolences on the closing of your college.
    Have a blessed week!

  31. Thank you Sr. Melanie for another interesting and moving article. If we only open our eyes and ears we can experience God’s many creations all around us. The time lapsed video was amazing, so calming and relaxing. Thank you for your weekly blogs.

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Meet Sr. Melannie

Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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