This is the time of year to enjoy the back of your flowers.
Partly because they are very low down at the moment. It was years before I realised when I was thinking about planting things that in spring things have not had much time to grow so they tend to be small, but in late summer they might be taller than me – just because they’ve had longer to make the effort. Spring flowers tend to be a few inches off the ground.
And lots of these low down plants keep their heads down. At the moment, with a cold north wind, that seems very wise.
We can stay standing up to enjoy these flower backs. Hurray: if things are growing at six inches it’s quite a big bend to get to see the face.
But we have a habitual need, I think, to look into the faces of flowers. It’s a bit like the way we start by sniffing a flower for scent if someone offers it to us, even if it’s made of silk. Habit. We turn a flower up. And it’s one of the big things about breeding hellebores – the latest and ‘best’ have stopped hanging their heads and may even look up at us. Or at least stare frontwards, indifferent to you.
It’s ok having a hellebore look at you, but it isn’t necessarily the most beautiful sight. Try this:
The back is often as beautiful as you could wish for if you didn’t think the front was the business.
Sometimes it’s not totally clear whether you are supposed to admire the front or the back.
And there are some flowers which specialise in backs. Tulips are at their most characteristic when they first open and the back is all we see.
Though we usually stay around for them to do the wonderful procession of opening up fully, then slumping and sagging until they finally reach a decadent collapse.
And sometimes, beautiful as the back may be:
you have to try the front for the best scent..
But some flowers love to make it very difficult to see anything but their backs – they grow on trees:
That works all right for me.