Is Bigger Better?
Actor John Houseman, perhaps best-known for his portrayal of Law Professor Charles W. Kingsfield in the movie and later television series, Paper Chase, served as television spokesman for the investment firm of Smith-Barney. Houseman, urged the investor to place his assets with Smith-Barney, rather than larger institutions. Advertisements often featured Houseman’s gruff declaration, “Is Bigger Better? Smith-Barney doesn’t think so.” For the purpose of our discussion, we will switch the focus away from investments and to flowers and flowering plants. Are bigger blooms better blooms?
The Beauty of Flowers
Because of their graceful and colorful beauty, flowers appeal to most people. Flowers exist in tremendous variety in shapes, sizes, and colors. For some flowering plants, the foliage adds to the beauty, but for others, contrast adds to the beauty, as, for instance, with the coarseness of cactus spines alongside the delicacy of brilliantly-colored, translucent blooms.
Obsessed with Size
People seem obsessed with change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. It is to be expected that even the beauty of flowers would not remain immune to human manipulation. “How can we make them bigger?” “How can we make them better?” Two flower types – Irises and Peonies well demonstrate that sometimes we need to look for other things in flowering plants than mere flower size.
The Native Iris -vs- the Germanica Iris
The Iris Versicolor is Native to America. A photograph of the flower appears at the top left of this article. A very beautiful flower, it nevertheless possesses a bloom that is considerably smaller than the greenery to which it is attached. Is this the reason hybridizers breed larger blooms? Large blooms tend to fall over, particularly after a good rain. This seems to be especially common with the Germanica Iris. How good does an Iris look when its flower stalk is bent and its bloom is lying in the mud? To counter this problem, some stake the flower stalks. But is a flower as beautiful if it must be staked like a tomato?
Ever Larger Peonies
Then there are the peonies. Consider this beautiful example! It is rare, indeed, to see peonies that stand on their own without staking or without an enclosure to hold them up. How much better to have a slightly smaller flower if it will only stand upright? More modest, smaller and lighter blooms might be even more beautiful because of their delicacy, and because of the ability to stand tall and proud!
So when you contemplate what you want to plant, don’t allow yourself to fall into the size trap. Bigger is not always better. It may even lead to a downfall!