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Know Your Flower Quotient ~ Flower Fan Girl

Know Your Flower Quotient ~ Flower Fan Girl

We are thrilled to introduce you to our monthly guest writer, Flower Fan Girl ~ Susan Gorman!  Her posts are sure to leave you laughing out loud and longing for some flowers!

When Mother Nature called a meeting last December 1st, She had clipboard in hand and a Don't Even Think About Interrupting Me look on her face, and began sternly with this admonition: “People of New England, listen up! We are officially behind schedule! And since several of you who know who you are never actually thanked me for those extra warm nights for dinner picnics at the beach this Fall, and who instead spent a lot of time tsk tsking about how it made the leaves 'not as pretty', tell you what. We're gonna get this party started right away with some polar-vortex style frigid temps that should keep you out of your dishwashers and other modern conveniences for oh, say a good couple of weeks. Also, there will be blizzards starting immediately.”

When winter starts like that, I start working on my Flower Quotient immediately. First, I ask myself a series of questions loosely based on these, to help assess my current situation:

 ~How soon after Thanksgiving did I start musing about someday living in San Diego (Florida/ Mexico/Arizona/Hawaii/Freaking Anywhere South of Here) “for the season”?

 ~How many people heard me say things like, “As soon as my youngest graduates (I retire/spouse retires/I use up all the condiments in my fridge), I'm outta here from December until March”?

 ~How often was I overheard mumbling through gritted teeth, “This is total BS,” as I gingerly minced across icy sidewalks Every. Single. Day, taking my life into my own hands just so my dogs and I could breathe some actual fresh air, which always sounds like an even trade when I start out but then starts to make me wonder whether I'm going to have to break a hip just to leave the house??

Then, divide your total score by the number of days you are possibly traveling to other, warmer locales, and you will find your Flower Quotient.

Your Flower Quotient represents the number of flowers growing in their natural habitat that you will need to experience to counteract the effects of a winter like the one we've been having. One that I, a SoCal native recently returned from a sojourn in San Diego, can only describe using a term from my own natural habitat: Gnarly.

Totally gnarly, actually.


What does it mean to experience flowers in their natural habitat? It means you do more than just notice. You also allow them to make you happy. You interact with this living plant in front of you with love, amazement, and appreciation, either by stopping for a moment to snap a picture, or by reaching out and touching the different textures of petals. Or by simply commenting on how gorgeous and plentiful the blooms are.

You can also do what I always do and just plant your face directly into a thick curtain of pink jasmine blossoms hanging over a fence in your friends' backyard. And breathe deeply. Jasminum polyanthum, a beautiful pink jasmine that grows abundantly in Southern California, has been slaying me with its fragrance since I was 13 when I discovered it on a walk around my neighborhood. Whenever I'm visiting in early spring I keep clippings in a vase by my bed. To see it growing like gangbusters is a spiritual experience.

Flowering Jasmine

Also blooming this time of year in San Diego are Camellias. No less elegant than roses, but they've always seemed somewhat sturdier to me and a bit more down-to-earth. Like if roses were allowed to wear sneakers and sneak out to a skatepark at lunch.

Flowering Camelia 

Then of course we have ice plant, which is rather nondescript but which blooms in such startling vibrancy, that every time I walk by I always think the blossoms are shouting, “SURPRISE!” at me. 

 Flowering ice plant

Bougainvillea proliferates year-round in riots of color, and my favorite thing about it is this fun fact: what looks like the petals, are actually leaves. 

Flowering Bouganvillea 

Bird-of-Paradise literally grows in flocks. Here is Rosie trying to decide if she feels like chasing them. 

 Flowering bird of paradise plant

And who can fail to appreciate what happens to Proteus or Lavender when it has the entire calendar year to stretch out.

 Flowering Lavender


The benefits of knowing your Flower Quotient cannot be underestimated. Filling your Quotient can mean having the replenished stores of serenity so necessary to endure our long winters here. And maybe even having enough on hand to appreciate the season for its unique magic.

It's either that or possibly turning into someone who wears their down coat indoors for four straight months and then when they literally cannot take it anymore, goes outside but only to stand on the street corner hurling profanities at trucks.

Now that's gnarly.

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