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Men's Illustrated Guide To Buying Flowers

In which I entered the incredible world of flowers on a quest for understanding.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Let me start by saying I know nothing about flowers. Some men do. I do not. I bought Sarah Ruth some flowers recently and said, "I think these are peonies?" She sweetly told me they were hydrangeas. It turns out hydrangeas and peonies are two different flowers.

So I set out this week to learn more about buying flowers. I looked at flowers. I drew flowers. I asked my friends and colleagues about their favorite flowers.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

This large heavy pot of pink flowers is an example of "flowers you cannot buy and give to someone."

Here is what I discovered:

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

You might never understand what a big deal flowers are. You don't have to. All you need to know is that they are a big deal to billions of people. Accept it.

Whatever lingering questions you have in your head about this whole phenomenon, keep them to yourself.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via
Nathan W. Pyle / Via
Nathan W. Pyle / Via

REMEMBER: It's not about you.

This is not about the giver. This is about the receiver.

I asked my friends about their favorites, and I can say with certainty now:

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

I asked hundreds of people for their favorites, and I chose 10 flowers that were mentioned several times. I have drawn each flower along with a familiar item that it made me think of.


Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Peonies were far and away the hottest flower my friends talked about. Dozens of people are telling me about peonies. They are large and have many layers that are beautifully fanned out, much like Outback Steakhouse's Bloomin' Onion.

Imagine someone right now handed you a hot Bloomin' Onion. That feeling you'd have is the exact feeling many of my friends would get if they were handed a bunch of peonies. It's that big.


Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Orchids are perhaps the coolest flower to me because of how unique and elegant they are. They remind me of Darth Vader's Meditation Chamber in The Empire Strikes Back.

Also like the chamber, these things are pretty cumbersome and you can't carry them around (they're sold in pots generally.)


Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Hydrangeas are easy to remember because of the mythical hydra beast. It's really amazing when you buy a bouquet of hydrangeas because you'll think there are going to be dozens of stems when you take the paper off, but it turns out to be only 2 or 3. These crazy flowers really fool you!

In this way, hydrangeas are the Decepticon of the flower family.


Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Sunflowers, it turns out, actually can be bought and given to someone. I was more familiar with the fields of sunflowers I'd drive past back in Ohio. Those things were huge!

It's easy to remember sunflowers because they look like the sun and look at the sun. And that's pretty cool.

Gerbera Daisies

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Gerbera Daisies were mentioned more often than the standard daisy! People (for the most part) really like these things.

They made me think of Gerber Baby Food because:

1) They come in several bright colors.

2) They can be found in most grocery stores.

3) They last a long time.

Calla Lilies

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Calla Lilies are so elegant and look like a lovingly wrapped burrito. Of all the flowers my friends mentioned, this one was the one I wanted to touch the most. It's just so smooth and reminds me of the tall soft-serve cone you get from the more generous of the McDonald's employees.


Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Tulips are sleek, spaceship like things that come in amazing electric colors. In this way they resemble Nerf Footballs to me. I love the idea of giving tulips because it really looks like you a cartoon character when you hold a bunch of these.

The coolest thing about them are the aerial photos of tulip farms where the color sections are so crisply divided. Amazing!


Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Ranunculus look like a tightly wound extension cord to me. There are sooo many petals on this thing like what??

It is very beautiful and it looks like a drawing of a rose that a jr. high art student kept adding more and more layers to.

Easter Lilies

Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Easter lilies are super familiar to me because I see them every year at church. They look like an inverted Banana Peel in Mario Kart or maybe a court jester's hat.

The coolest part might be the anthers that stick out in the middle, because they look like future Jetson-style spacehouses.


Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Carnations look like a bunch of flower material all jammed together in tight wad of flowerdebris. These flowers were mentioned about a dozen times, but almost all of those mentions were negative. This is telling because I asked my friends what flowers they like. And they proceeded to tell me theydon't like carnations.

Carnations, it seems, actually rank lower than "no flowers at all" for most people I talked to. I get the sense that it would be better to go down to the pond and pull up some cattails or just bind some tall grass together and give it to your girlfriend than it would be to give her carnations. Most people I talked to said they think of them as "sympathy flowers" and that they can't shake that connotation from their heads.


That said, my friends mentioned "Vintage Roses" or "Spray Roses" are a lovely alternative to the standard rose.


Nathan W. Pyle / Via

Essentially flowers with ginormous heads are super popular right now. I don't know if this will always be the case, but for right now it is.

In closing: just do it. Buy someone flowers today.

Even if you don't know her favorite, just buy them. If you want to know her favorite, stalk her Pinterest or ask her friends.

And if you're not seeing anyone, still buy flowers for someone today. Who cares? It will mean so much to someone.

Let me know which favorite of yours that I missed. This is also a great time to casually bring up your favorite flower so your significant other knows!

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