Around the time Singapore started implementing work and movement restrictions to stem Covid-19, I started noticing an uplifting sight: Batches of hellebores marching into the local wholesalers. As the flower goes into full bloom, circumstances have ironically hustled us indoors. Right before I had to start working from home, though, I managed to get my hands on a bunch of these beauties. Lucky me!
Hellebores typically come in a few colours such as greenish, purplish blush, white-ish lime, antique purple and occasionally caramel autumn coloured ones. They are often in a shape that reminds me of a starfish although sometimes you may also get those that are little more fancy and fluffy, as if they have put in a little more effort to dress up. As I gently studied the flower in its full glory, I found small little freckles hidden in its layers of ruffled petals. A feeling of calm washed over me as I devoted my attention to observing details on the particular hellebore stalk. A little glee sparkled in my heart, as my eyes ran up and down the lighter and darker colour gradients.
If there are such things as 'soul places', then hellebores must be my soul flower. Every time it comes into season, I feel as if I have found my first love all over again, no matter how much time has passed by between each of their season.
I first came across the word 'soul place' after my honeymoon trip to New Zealand in an article by Jennifer Blair who beautifully described soul places as places or locations on Earth that you feel connected to and you could not even explain why. You may have never been to this place before, yet being there for the first gave you a sense of familiarity and calm. Blair further explained that different soul places you found may have inspired you differently. For instance, one may appeal to your desire to learn a musical instrument and another may just make you feel a sense of inner peace.
Have you ever felt like this? Her description perfectly spoke to my experience. After my New Zealand vacation, I found myself in a jet-lagged like state, not because of the time difference, but because of an intense pining for being close to Nature - the mountains, the vast land of green fields and random animals (I spotted wild rabbits when I went hiking at Roys Peak and Mount Cook)! Those days were a true luxury for a city girl like me.
I imagine that ‘soul flowers’ refer to a similar feeling of deep resonance with a specific flower. Most times, it is unexplainable. Even if it is a fleeting moment, you feel as if something within you lights up when you see the flower, and you are truly amazed by Nature's beauty.
While holidaying in Christchurch, I stumbled upon a field of hellebores growing in a random spot in the city’s Botanic Gardens. Because fresh-cut hellebores are usually quite temperamental and delicate, I always had a whimsical vision of them growing mid-air, protected in a glass jar. I was really surprised to see them growing in the wild and thriving.
Nature is amazing, wonders grow in corners you least expect. I would like to believe that since we all belong to one Earth, we too, are a part of Mother Nature. I am certain that even in our worst days, hope and wonders exist, and are there for us to discover.
The hellebores' temperamental nature and short vase life in our local humid climate is a good reminder to us all that most things are transient and impermanent. It is not uncommon for a freshly-purchased bag of hellebores to look droopy and impossible to revive shortly after take them back to the studio. On other days, I have found that their glorious beauty lasts for under 48 hours.
There are interesting parallels between the unpredictability of hellebores and the current local Covid-19 situation. We do not know how long more this battle will persist. When we can resume our lives and regain most of our freedom is largely unknown. Nobody has clear definite answers to these complex questions. It may seem natural and easier to ruminate in frustration and fear, but making the best out of what we have in this season seems a better choice to me.
For those moments we get to include hellebores in our floral design and styling works, I am truly grateful. Perhaps their presence in this season is a timely reminder that there is still life and growth even in a season of deep uncertainty. Some chapters close, but others open up to a new beginning.
A big thank you to our friend Benita for editing our very first post!