Repost: 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 to ensure 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.


This was first posted June 2013.

Alas, this year, some critters ate my sweet peas before they had a chance to climb and wander and flower.

 I have planted nothing but memories in their place.

Maybe next year …


©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.

22 thoughts on “Repost: The Man Who Gave Me Flowers

  1. A lovely tribute to this man – I would have liked him. And sweet peas are one of my favorites – their fragrance and cheeriness. My mom used to grow them every year when I was a kid – brings back memories. (And of course I love your painting!)


    • Thank you so much, Betty! Yes, you certainly would have liked him – a very quiet, self-contained man with a passion in his soul for gardening. He lived to his mid-nineties and was interacting with flowers (and riding a bicycle) until nearly the end. So glad this piece evoked sweet (pea) memories for you. Blessings. XO ❤


    • Thank you, Barbara! Yes, he wasn’t much of a conversationalist … unless it was about gardening. He was a very ‘solitary soul’, but once he was allowed to pursue his passion, he was a very contented one. He continued gardening (and even riding a bicycle) into his nineties. XO ♥


  2. This is a lovely memory and post, Diane and I love your painting, so delicate and soft…as other’s have said, It is too bad about your sweet peas, but there is always next year! 🙂 Hope your Monday has been a good start to your week! Hugs and love!


  3. This is just fabulous Diane. I particularly remember the lovely painting of sweet peas in the marmalade jar, just my kind of thing. How sad about this year’s sweet peas, but as you say maybe next year. Our next door neighbours have had a bumper crop this year and every now and then she pops a handful of beautiful delicate colours and petals over the fence; within seconds the whole room is alive with the gorgeous scent. ❤️ Xxx


    • Thank you, Christine! Oh, how wonderful that your neighbor is generous with their crop of sweet peas. I’m envious, but will just imagine I can feast on their colors and delicious scent. Enjoy! XO ♥


  4. Oh what a lovely posting 🙂 Such good memories! And a beautiful drawing too. A pity your sweet peas didn’t make it but who knows, they might do better next year 🙂 ❤


    • Thank you, Ina! Yes, I think I have fonder memories of my ex-father-in-law (who was the inspiration for this piece) than my ex-hubby. 🙂 But the sweet peas were just not meant to be this year … 😦 XO ♥


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