Some see white clover as just a weed, others as a masterpiece of composition. Courtesy photo/Rachel Lovejoy

No, it isn’t anything I grew in my garden. In reality, it grows everywhere, unannounced and uninvited. We stroll by it, without so much as a glance, drive by fields of it, and yank it up from our otherwise pristine lawns. It’s a White Clover (trifolium repens) blossom, and the words “beautiful, lovely, or pretty” don’t do justice to the complexity found in even this most innocuous of flowers.

That’s not to say that I always see this intricacy myself, at least not at first. But something always seems to give me pause, compels me to a second, third, and fourth look. Like with this clover blossom, which didn’t awe me at first, as there are so many of them on the lawns here. It didn’t happen until I uploaded the photo to my computer and then chose it for my desktop background, aka wallpaper. Suddenly, there this humble little blossom was, magnified to the point where I had no choice but to see it in a whole new light … as a masterpiece of composition … one simple boring little flower considered by many to be nothing more than a weed.

I must in all honesty, however, issue a warning here. Trifolium repens, a European introduction, is highly invasive. Once distributed as a forage crop favored by many grazing animals, white clover is now found just about everywhere, from open fields and pastures to woodland edges and yes, lawns, where it is a bane for many homeowners.

All that aside, that brings me back to my original point. Wanted or unwanted, flowers are interesting for so many more reasons than I have the time or space to expound upon here. But what has long intrigued me the most about them is how they are constructed and how easy it is to miss their complexity of design, along with the fact that we usually do not see that they’re so much more than just blobs of color in a lawn, on a plant, or in a tree. It’s easy to dismiss a hillside draped in dandelions in mid-spring as nothing more than a great swath of yellow. The same goes for any flower that grows in abundance in field or garden. And how often do we miss the attributes of a single blossom when it’s lost in a sea of color?

As children, we learn that flowers are the pretty parts of plants, that they have colorful petals held up by bright green leaves. We gather handfuls to give to someone we love or pull the petals out to toss to the wind. We make chains and place bouquets in our tea party vases, and we run through fields of them, the more judicious among us afraid to crush a single one. As adults, we marvel at flowers for different reasons, and recall our youthful and unhurried observational abilities when nature, in its gentle way, entices us to take a closer look.

As for this White Clover blossom, what a work of art it is, its concentrically placed florets drawing us in, much as it did whatever pollinator insect or bird paid it a visit. Notice how the contrasting pink color that, from a distance, appears like nothing more than dust, actually tints the bases of each of those florets, of which dozens form a single composite blossom, and how each of them seems to be reaching, not only toward the light that gives it life but toward us as well, to take notice, to appreciate, to love…

For after all, don’t flowers symbolize love? Don’t we as children simply love them, because children naturally love what is pretty? And doesn’t this passion follow us into adulthood, as is evidenced by our gardens, large or small, or the plants that grace our windowsills and porch railings, or the many special occasions that we honor with flowers? Sometimes, all it takes is one small blossom to remind us of all that, and so much more.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: