Pablo Neruda once wrote, “Take it all back. Life is boring, except for flowers, sunshine, and your perfect legs.” While we can’t always guarantee a day of sunshine, nor a lover who admires our legs as perfect, we can always find flowers. And beautiful ones at that, even on the darkest days, when our legs feel fatigued from traveling and far from perfect.
I founded and run a business that keeps me on the road half the year. But I love to travel so much that even when I’m not working, I still travel.
My favorite idea of a dream escape is to show up at an airport, look at the board of departing flights, and impulsively pick a destination on the spot, armed only with sunglasses, a toothbrush, sneakers, a pair of my favorite high heels, perfume and a scarf. The rest always more appropriately found on location.
But even when my travels are destination-oriented, which, given the business I founded, they most often are these days, I indulge and embrace the fantasy of the journey itself until the rude awakening of the commercial objective of the destination rears its ugly head and dissolves that fantasy.
However, that fantasy is always extended, even if just for a precious few moments, by the flowers that greet me as I check into my hotel. It is why hotels invest in floral arrangements created by the best local artists.
Flowers remind me of all that is sensuous in life and they resonate in each and every one of our senses: the silky touch of the water lily, the pungent scent of the American Beauty rose, the visual exquisiteness of a white peony, the sweet taste of a honeysuckle bloom, and – if you have ever listened, ever so carefully, to the opening of a morning glory at dawn, or the closing of a hibiscus flower at dusk – the sound of a plant making its way in an otherwise chaotic and cacophonous world of locomotion, the one thing that flowers need other phenomena and creatures – winds, rain, bees, birds, even us humans – to enable them to accomplish their goals on this frenetic planet.
And to entice us to give them locomotion – which, by the way, is just another manifestation of travel – they beckon the winds with their feathery tendrils, the bees with their sweet nectar, the birds with their hearty fruits, and us humans with their quintessential beauty.
The ancient philosophers first hypothesized that the world around us comprised four essences: earth, air, fire, and water. But these four essences could not explain the sun, the stars, and the moon, the explanation of which required the conjecture of a fifth essence or a quintessence. Medieval philosophers used quintessence as the category by which God could be defined. Contemporary physicists use quintessence as the category to describe dark matter and things they cannot measure nor explain. I use quintessence to describe and define flowers.
Here are my ten favorite arrangements of flowers that greeted me, and extended my fantastic travel journeys, over the past six months. Collectively, they represent an assembly of moments which, while individually fleeting, collectively confirm Neruda’s observation, “Life is boring, except for flowers.”
I hope you enjoy them as much as I have and I look forward to sharing more of my fantastic journeys, and the flowers that extend those fantasies, as Flower Power‘s Travel Editor-At-Large. (www.linkedin.com/in/joellewyserpratte)
The Fairmont Hotel in Washington DC welcomes visitors with these cheery bright yellow sunflowers. They sit on a glass table over a three-dimensional split sculptural stand of iconic images of American heritage. Notice the vases. All tonally matched to the sculptural bottom which makes a statement in itself. Mixing art with flowers. There are also flags hanging in the lobby’s background from all around the world.
This hotel chain consistently presents beautiful flowers in its lobbies. This one is very pretty with its pastel colors, It’s hard to complain about pink Hydrangeas, lilacs and palm fronds. The white vases complement the pastel colors.
This hotel changed its flowers daily. Here is an example where florists used different flowers but collectively created a beautiful rainbow of colors.
There were many full-blown pink and green Hydrangeas resting on palm fronds in all their glory. The light and air of the room and a panoramic view of blue water all balanced perfectly. Luscious. Also liked how they stacked many different vases.
The Four Seasons knows its seasons. Once again, this hotel chain uses one type of flower to great effect. Liked how they used red flowers in silver vases. Simple but elegant. Silver always looks good on mahogany tables. Big, bold and beautiful.
Vases really showcase flowers. Here we have forsythia stems accented with tulips and Lillies all in one tonal color. White and yellow add cheer in the contemporary display.
This is a traditional Japanese floral arrangement in complete harmony with the entrance. It is an origami of bamboo in such meticulous detail and complexity that I am for once at a loss for words. Austere but moving and beautiful.
I liked the antique table and oriental carpets which are very classic. But there was also a playful use of scent and multiple small and large vases of Hortensia, Gladiolas, Antorium, Hydrangeas and Eucalyptus.
The Spanish decor of dark wood, terra-cotta tile and white plaster play well with the robust arrangement. I also love the heady fragrance of the Lillies and nature’s intricate design of the petals. And this display lets the roses arch and dangle as a really long tulip would if they existed.
A round-up couldn’t be complete without mentioning the Breakers, in Palm Beach, Florida. This display is legendary for its abundance and creativity. The roses greet visitors with a fragrant smell and the massive blooms make everyone smile.
Hope you loved these memories as much as I do. I look forward to sharing my travels with you again. You can also send us your own favorite hotel flower arrangements to firstname.lastname@example.org. Bon voyage.