In the very first line of one of Virginia Woolf’s best-known novels, Mrs. Dalloway, the main character Clarissa Dalloway said “…she would buy the flowers herself” rather than sending one of the house servants to get them. At first this seems strange, but upon closer examination, it’s anything but. Taking Clarissa and removing her from the context of the novel, her action is what Woolf wants one to pay attention to. Woolf is making a clear statement, not just with the character of Mrs. Dalloway, but also with the novel as a whole to what the purpose of our engagement with the world is. Clarissa goes for the flowers so she can step into the world experience. Woolf, throughout the novel, has Clarissa attuned to the outside world. However, the notion of flowers is important in itself.
Flowers, in the novel, and in general, are plants of amazement and wonder. They are intrinsic in beauty and purpose. A flower, if all else fails, can simply be enjoyed for aesthetic enrichment. Their color and shape can reveal themselves differently to each individual (a plausible reason Clarissa wanted to pick them herself). Furthermore, they are a reminder of the finiteness of life. Slowly, over the span of a flower’s life, it reminds us of our youth, when we are in full bloom, and then our imminent and unavoidable end. However, it is the middle of the flower’s life that one needs to pay attention to. Standing amongst a garden of flowers does anything but remind you of death; quite conversely, it brings life to full tilt and opens your eyes to why living is something extraordinary. If you don’t believe me, there’s a place you can experience this yourself.
That place is R. Seawright Gardens, located at 201 Bedford Road (Route 225) in Carlisle, Massachusetts. With over 600 varieties of daylilies, the garden paints a picture in itself. From vivid reds to delicate pinks and golden yellows to near whites, there is a flower that will invoke a response in each of us. The plants are dug fresh from the nursery’s field either upon hand-selection, for those lucky enough to go there in person or you can order daylilies online and the plants will be shipped to you. If you are fortunate enough to be able to visit the garden, they allow you to walk amongst the fully-grown flowers so you can see what they will look like in their fully mature state.
There really is nothing quite like it, the various colors of the flowers working with one another provides an overwhelming sensation of life. If you plan on making the trip…hurry, the season for daylilies is here and peak bloom time begins July 20th. The garden’s website says “if you can visit us multiple times, try to come around July 15, July 25 and August 5. You will see something different each time.” So I encourage you to get out, much like Mrs. Dalloway, and quiet the busy days of summer for at least an hour and buy some flowers for yourself.
Daylily Farm, Seawright Gardens, Carlisle, MA
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