mischrysanthemumry - hatred of Chrysanthemums.
- A word I just made up
One of my favorite blogs is the Human Flower Project. Every day there's a new article reporting on some aspect of the importance flowers have in human lives and social structures. Yesterday's entry is about Chrysanthemums, in particular, but also the general attitudes toward flowers - anything, really - on the basis of its rarity or "commonness."
There IS such a thing as flower bigotry. Consider pansy disdain and the aspersions cast upon Bradford pear trees, carnations and chrysanthemums. One of our heroes, Pierre Bourdieu, spent many years studying the social and economic structures that underlie such “trivial” opinions. He argued that expressions of taste, even in things as seemingly subjective as flowers, belie an ongoing social struggle. One of the more bonehead—and prevailing—tactics in this culture war is the declared “preference” for things that are rare over things plentiful. The Fall Chrysanthemum Syndrome, if you will.

“The main opposition,” Bourdieu writes in Distinction, “is between the practices designated by their rarity as distinguished,” (what rich and culturally powerful people “like” and do) “and the practices socially identified as vulgar because they are both easy and common.” As chrysanthemums are common come November 1.
Chrysanthemum antipathy is nothing terribly new. In a February 1892 edition of Garden and Forest, C.S. Sargent wrote, “It has been said that the popularity of the Chrysanthemum is on the wane. No doubt, the Japanese varieties have been overdone, but that the Chrysanthemum will ever become unpopular I do not believe. There will rather be a return to a larger variety of types, and many of the old kinds will come into favor. Already we see this.” Just as Bourdieu describes, to be “overdone” is anathema. Cultural salvation may come in the form of the “interesting or unusual” or the revival of “old kinds” that, like homespun blankets or Dedham Pottery, have become hard to find. In fact, banishment from shopping centers seems like a strong indication that these flowers are regaining a whiff of unacceptability, the first painful step on the road to grandeur.

- Chrysanthemums - Too Human, Human Flower Project [links and my emphasis added]
Some of the ones I loathe are:
  • Azaleas (the white-pink-magenta-red blobs-of-color varieties are common as Dandelions here)
  • Dandelions (I exterminate them on sight)
  • Forsythia (do not a topiary make)
  • Violets (soooo very common)
Some of the ones I love are:
  • Daffodils
  • Daisies (the earliest flower I remember)
  • Goldenrod
  • Lilacs
  • Pansies
  • Tulips
Oh, yeah. And mums!

What "common" flowers do you love? Which do you loathe?


The County Clerk said...

You should make this a meme (whatever the hell that is) and tag 5 bloggers to make the list and pass it on. Everyone has to post theirs on THEIR blog and email info to you... and then you can figure out MOST Loved and Loathed.

I'm still thinking about it. Love is easy. Loath? Harder.

Christa said...

"Common" flowers I love:

- Lilacs
- Daisies
- Zinnias
- Petunias
- Even marigolds!

I loathe... Tiger Lilies.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I agree with the clerk about the meme!

Here are my most loathed:
1) rudbeckia (I blame growing up in the 70s amid appliances and flower patterns in harvest gold, avocado green, etc., for my hatred of BES)
2) forsythia (just not a pretty shrub)
3) burning bush (I've only seen one used well in the landscape, in a picture on someone's blog)
4) pink echinacea purpurea (pink and brown just don't do it for me)
5) mums (sorry, Xris!)

Some of the ones I love:
1) iris (remind me of grandma's garden)
2) peonies
3) roses (not in a formal rose garden)
4) ornamental grasses
5) herbs (all of them!)

Annie in Austin said...

I think Eleanor Perenyi looked into the rarity theory too, long ago. I like Daisy-flowered chrysanthemums better than the pom-pom shapes. But with all mums, when the buds open, the colors never seem to match the tags.

I don't think I actually loathe many flowers, although some are useful in the garden without being thrilling.
Common favorites? Daffodils and iris, for sure. I also love columbine and dark purple lilacs. They weren't common in Illinois, but down here there are lots of magnolias with huge creamy flowers, to make five.

Christa - what do you mean by Tiger Lilies? Are you talking about Hemerocallis fulva - orange daylilies/ditch lilies? Or do you mean the tall true Lilium tigrinum that was called Tiger Lily by Alice in Wonderland? That's the one that's always been Tiger Lily to me, but lately I've heard people use the name for daylilies. This might be one of those cases where we need a little Latin!

Kim, I'll have to check with my older kids to see if they bear scars from growing up with floral wallpaper and harvest gold appliances in the late 70's. Did your mother also torture you by garbing you in Stretch 'n' Sew creations? Also I am clueless as to what BES means.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Annie, no Stretch 'n' Sew, but wayyyy too much Holly Hobby stuff when I was a kid--which likely contributed to my intense dislike of yellow! Sorry for the shorthand... BES=Black Eyed Susans.

Anonymous said...

Back when we lived in Wilton, Connecticut I had a friend who was a fantastic gardener - alpines from seed, a huge vegetable garden,all sorts of things. And she trained a Forsythia suspensa as a standard. It was stupendous when in flower in spring - single woody stem about 6 or 7 feet tall topped by this cascading mass of yellow flowers. Unique for me, but I think Ellie said she'd seen in in Horticulture magazine (we're going back 25 years here, maybe more) and decided she could do it. And did.

chuck b. said...

At the moment, in my Two-Buck Chuck-induced Friday evening fugue, I don't hate much of anything.

But I feel I would never allow any Tagetes or Impatients or Begonia semperflorens cultorum to grow in my garden.

I used to hate geraniums above all others (and my geranium I mean Pelargonium); I found them tacky, weedy, and foul. But prolonged close exposure to Pelargonium tomentosum turned my head around, and now in add'n to the tomentosum, I'm fond of the rose-scented geraniums and also this particular zonal gernium.

My favorite of the very common garden flowers is primrose. It's just so useful; I can't feel anything but love for the common primrose.

I am wild about this particular cineraria that's naturalized in San Francisco parks. It's especially beautiful in the soft light of winter when it blooms. I'm usually over it by May when the flowers are still hanging on.

My s.o. won't let me plant any rhododendrons in the garden because they remind him of dark, depressing Seattle. No problem...I wasn't planning to grow those anyway.

I like most narcissus and tulips and watsonia and freesia. I like Amaryllis belladonna which has naturalized in a lot of places. I love the native Erysimum concinnum and Douglas Iris (but I don't like the big, floppy bearded irises at all).

I could go on.

Astilbe, forsythia, lilacs and goldenrod are not common in my part of California at all, but pansies are as common as violets and daisies and petunias and zinnias. Of those, I only like daisies and zinnias.

robin andrea said...

I love this post, Xris! It should be a meme, absolutely.

I haven't really given it much thought about flowers that I loathe, but there are flowers that I absolutely love:
Fragrant wild roses

I'm going to try to come up with a flower I don't like. Interesting challenge.

Julie said...

Dear Xris,

Thank you so much for checking in on the Human Flower Project and citing Bourdieu!

Zinnias and hollyhocks are "common" favorites of mine. Bearded iris and iceland poppies are my very favorites, though hard to grow here in Central Texas (at least for me).

I am now on speaking terms with cannas.

All good wishes,

Carol said...

I can't come up with a good list of flowers that I loathe. The common flowers I like include lilacs, violets, zinnias, columbine, and spiderwort.

Oh, and I remember "Stretch 'n' Sew" creatures, especially t-shirts.

Kati said...

what fun! I love dandelions in bloom but hate the seed-heads. As for forsythia, I love forsythia in it's natural form but "topiary everything" as I see it too often in suburbia drives me to rage. I just read Kim's post (A Study in Contrasts) on silver plants(aka dusty miller at one time)and plant snobs, so I found the coincidence funny.