The Man Who Gave Me Flowers

I was feeling sorry for myself when I thought of the man who gave me flowers.

He said very little, saw such a lot, couldn’t read but was a master of growing.

He had barely avoided being lost in a mine shaft and had suffered a nervous breakdown over climbing ladders; but in retirement he made a real living out of pottering and obsessing—never lonelier, never happier, never available to anything but his bliss.

His specialties were sweet peas and chrysanthemums, the latter daisy-like or pompon-shaped and enormous like the inedible onions he also won prizes for. But the former were unwritten poetry: long-stemmed, crepe-papery, candy-colored and as sweetly scented.

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

He sowed them early and prayed for gentle rain, cool sunshine and uneventful nights. He trained them up bamboo poles, tying them loosely so it was their idea to reach upwards. Suckers were cut off, which bothered him a little but ensured long strong stems; so were the tendrils that could make a mess of his plans. As the buds appeared he shielded them against the weather; as they blossomed he cut and arranged them in green metal vases with narrow bases and wide brims. The first crop over, he knew how to get another, folding the stalks down, a trick that fooled them into thinking they had to begin again.

They brought him visitors, a little cash (kept under his mattress) and a lot of praise, satisfaction and disbelief, and frustration because he couldn’t bear to waste his time on such things.

He never made me feel unwelcome, giving me a special bouquet he had put aside.  I had nothing to say but “thank you, it’s beautiful.”

All I really knew of him were the flowers he gave me.

I have sweet peas in my garden now, allowed free reign by my laziness, with suckers and tendrils, reaching and falling, rain soaked and wind broken, encouraged and burned by the sun, yet somehow as perfect as the ones he grew.

About that he maintains a heavenly silence.



In Memoriam (About my late father-in-law, 2005) (if you click on link, please scroll down …)

Bill Denton, retired groundskeeper (Wroxton), died on September 20, 2004. He joined Wroxton College in 1976 and worked on the Abbey grounds with his son, Robert Denton, groundskeeper (Wrox), until his retirement in 1999.

(I believe he was nearly 100 when he died … worked gardening on the Wroxton Abbey estate in Oxfordshire, England until he was about 94.)

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

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24 thoughts on “The Man Who Gave Me Flowers

      • By the way, Diane–I’ve been corresponding with Christine, and she shared your lovely wisdom about how we should allow ourselves to be as weak as we allow ourselves to be strong. This greatly helped me today, as I seem to think I must always be at peak performance. So, thank you very much! You’re a blessing.

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  1. Oh Diane, this is such a fabulous post.

    I could read and read your writing. I felt like I was starting a new book reading this!

    Such a lovely tribute! Ooh and seville orange marmalade by Frank Cooper! I bet that was delicious and I just love flowers such as sweet peas in makeshift vases such as this; they team up perfectly I think., rather than a formal vase. I picture them on a window ledge of a country style kitchen with herbs etc drying, hanging from an old style airing rack on a pulley. We used to have one of those at home when I was small!

    The painting is exsquisite in every way pissible.

    And the most wonderful last line here could only have been written by you and it made me smile 🙂

    Love hugs and lots of blessings

    Christine ❤ xxx

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    • Hi, Christine.

      I was quite surprised how this one developed … very quickly, actually. I was looking at the painting on Friday night and then wrote most of it soon after, refining and finishing it the next day. I still have that marmalade pot … I think it was originally purchased at an antique shop … I have an old cream one, too, which is shaped like a minature urn. I also love flowers in unusual containers. I remember putting tiny violets in an old stone ink pot … which was just perfect for their daintiness!

      I am so glad you like the last line!

      Love and hugs and lots of blessings right back at you!

      XXXOOO ♥♥♥

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  2. Oh Diane, I can feel the loving family memories and the old English garden threaded through this and I love your painting. Much love Xx

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    • And thank you for your visit and engaging comment, Pete! I am currently reading your ‘Blood Lines’ and am so glad Bennison Books published it. Its stories and characters really live on the page and beyond. Hope you gain readers far and wide! All the best.

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  3. Diane, I’m so glad you liked “Desperate Voyage” on Writing I Am. I’m afraid that’s the last you’ll see of it until it gets published.
    I loved, “The man who gave me flowers.” If you’ll forgive me I’ll tell you a little tale.
    I was about 12 when I met Hugh Gordon. He was head test pilot for Sunderland Brothers. One of the Sunderland flying boats crashed in a river not far from where I grew up in the middle of Africa. It lost its way in a flight from somewhere to somewhere in the Anglo Egyptian Sudan because its direction finder quit working and the Dungu River in the northern area of what was then the Belgian Congo was where the pilot set it down. It was said that Chamberlain’s sister was on board.
    Hugh Gordon was sent out with a crew to patch up the ship and fly it out of there. The accommodations at the Aba hotel were horrendous and so most of the missionaries invited the repair crew to stay with them, and Hugh Gordon and two others styed at our house.
    Several years later when I was in the US Navy our ship docked at Southampton and we were hardly tied up when I was summoned to the Captain’s quarter where he informed me that a certain Hugh Gordon with the British Air Ministry want me to be granted leave to go an visit them.
    Their home was: Glebe Cottege, Romsey. My week with them is one of my fondest memories of several trips to United Kingdom and your special thoughts of, “The man who gave me flowers,” brought back special memories because Hugh had a wonderful flower garden, and we spent several hours there talking while he tended his flowers. – Again, thank you, Thank you, Thank you. – Aloha – pjs.

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