During my recent BIG birthday, a friend sent me a wonderful bouquet of flowers from local Harlem florist, La Fleur d’Harlem. The arrangement was lovely, full of fragrant flowers of the season. I enjoyed it for a couple of days and then began to feel it was a little bit …er, constrained.  (Come to think of it, that is what I’ve felt about just about every bouquet I’ve ever received, after the sublime flush of receiving something so luxurious.) Then, I let loose those glorious blooms all over my space.

I carefully deconstructed the bouquet, grouping its flowers together. Then I filled an assortment of vases and vessels with water, not knowing which I’d use.

Sally Schneider

I felt my way, starting with the two flowers that seemed like they’d be good together — lilies and lilac. Their mingled fragrance was intoxicating.

Sally Schneider

Next came the old-fashioned lisianthus — “poor man’s roses”. I cut the shorter stems off the long, spindly stalks to discover both red and white flowers in various states of bloom. The bouquet was lovely by my bed, to wake to each morning.

Sally Schneider

Hydrangea take to odd placements. The two in the bouquet became two separate displays, one in a pale pink vase with a precariously small base that I bought at a junk store in Nice many years ago…

Sally Schneider

…the other hydrangea, paired with a few long grasses, became a kinetic sculpture…


Sally Schneider

I had to look up the name of the cool mossy-looking pom poms — Dianthus barbatus, or Green Ball… which I love for their intense GREEN and their somewhat outer space look, in an old laboratory beaker I picked up somewhere….

Sally Schneider

As with the roses, I cut clusters of these tiny pink flowers off their long, stalky stems to make several arrangements. First, two sweet little bouquets in stemmed glasses…

Sally Schneider

…then a floating pond of the knocked-off blossoms, a trick I learned from Maria Robledo…


Sally Schneider

…It really lets you see the blossoms…


Sally Schneider

This cluster jumped into a pink-rimmed Venetian water-glass bought at the NYC flea market years ago…A study in pink…


Sally Schneider

Finally, the last, lone sprig of greenery became a sort of sculpture in a small, flat vase…


Sally Schneider


All told, I got nine arrangements of various sizes to put around my apartment, which somehow made the big gift bouquet seem even more wonderful.

This is also a great way to salvage a terrible arrangement that may have some wonderful flowers in it. It is what my late friend David Noble’s sister Kay did when she saw the arrangement I had painstakingly tried to order by phone for my very ill friend. The Pittsburgh florist had assured me “it will be great”. It wasn’t. So Kay hauled water glasses to David’s hospital room and took the terrible arrangement apart, to surround David with small vessels of flowers.


For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers,

green roses, chrysanthemums, lilies: retrophilia,

philocaly, philomath, sarcophilous—all this love,

of the past, of beauty, of knowledge, of flesh; this is

catalogue & counter: philalethist, negrophile, neophile.

A negro man walks down the street, taps Newport

out against a brick wall & stares at you. Love

that: lygophilia, lithophilous. Be amongst stones,

amongst darkness. We are glass house. Philopornist,

philotechnical. Why not worship the demimonde?

Love that—a corner room, whatever is not there,

all the clutter you keep secret. Palaeophile,

ornithophilous: you, antiquarian, pollinated by birds.

All this a way to dream green rose petals on the bed you love;

petrophilous, stigmatophilia: live near rocks, tattoo hurt;

for you topophilia: what place do you love? All these words

for love (for you), all these ways to say believe

in symphily, to say let us live near each other.

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4 replies on “Anthophilous? Explode a Big Bouquet into MANY Joys

  1. Sallie – Your “roses” are actually lisianthus or poor man’s roses. A terrible name for such a lovely flower!

  2. Thank you so much, Deb. I hunted around to find out what they were, and in the end just figured they were some kind of rose. I’m glad to know what they are though really, “poor man’s roses”???? They are lovely, and I’ve put your info into the post.

  3. Happy BIG BIRTHDAY, Sally.
    You are one of (improvised) life’s cherished compadres
    and it is a pleasure going forward with you!!

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