Perfection Is Overrated

Flowers and plants are a meaningful part of my life. There are orchids, a Christmas cactus, impatiens and begonias currently blooming in and around my home. I’m eagerly watching two pots with amaryllis bulbs that have finally peaked through the soil to start their rapid ascent to magnificently bloom. As a nature lover, that’s anticipation I savor.   

Plants fascinate me and it’s fun to learn of their history and hear the stories of the people who grow them. Many of my family members taught me when I was young to enjoy flowers and plants, and I have been writing about them for nearly 40 years. It seems that with all of this admiration and flower fanhood I might be able to do something fabulous with bouquets I buy at the supermarket. The truth is I’m not that great, but more practice would certainly help.

I’ve been watching videos on where flower expert J Schwanke shows how easy it is to have fun with flowers. I especially like his style because there are no intimidation factors, and his approach kind of reminds me of the cooking shows I enjoy watching.

My passion for flowers and new-found knowledge on creating with flowers seems to have given me enough confidence to take on a recent project even though I knew it would be challenging. A local agency that operates many group homes for residents with special needs hosted a first-time winter gala. The event was for residents ranging from teenagers to senior citizens. I ended up being in charge of providing 50 hand-made boutonnieres and 50 corsages.

After sourcing simple but exquisite white carnations and Baby’s Breath and the necessary supplies — and after much doubting and fretting — I sat at my breakfast table and snipped, twirled and taped with conviction. It took me four-and-a-half hours but I did it. Were they perfect? No, but they were special. Those not-professionally-made boutonnieres and corsages were bright accompaniments, worn by dear people of all ages who are often forgotten and who rarely receive fresh flowers.

The night included a sit-down meal, a DJ with top dance tunes and lots of photographs being taken. The winter gala was beautiful, memorable and meaningful. By sharing flowers, pinning them on the guests and joining the festivities, I was keenly reminded of something I thought I already knew: Perfection is overrated, and everyone deserves to feel the joy of flowers.

Giving flowers, and giving oneself to the task of creating something special for others, brings about true happiness. If you are looking to experience happiness and share that feeling with others, try sharing flowers. It’s a simple act and it works – and perfection is not required. 

Written by E. Shaunn Alderman, a flower and plant-loving mother of twins with autism. She can be reached at