Vibe of the Month – June 2019: Wonderland Flowers

The Vibe of Month series takes the mood inherent to each month of the year – derived from holidays, events, folklore, astrology, and pop culture sources – and connects it to my personal experience for that month via film, fashion, and art. It was started as a way to explore how each season affects our memories, lived experience, and the way we consume art and entertainment.

Even though I know they’re an evil corporation, Disney holds a special, soft place in my heart. Not so much their live-action efforts, but the animated films.

As much as I love them, I do feel like they were fed to us – all of us millennial children born between 1983 and 1990 – whether we liked it or not. I was the prime age for movies like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King. I saw all of them in theatres, had them all on VHS, and watched them repeatedly. But I was also very into the old time-y animated Disney films. Sleeping Beauty has always been my all-time favourite (and I’ve already talked about that); however Alice in Wonderland is a close second.

I’ve never actually read the book. When I was a kid, it seemed boring and now that I’m an adult it’s too hard to get into knowing that Lewis Carroll wrote it for a 13-year-old he considered his girlfriend. That backstory kind of taints the whole thing.

But as a child I didn’t know that, obviously. I was obsessed with the world that Carroll made up and the Disney animators brought to vivid life. As someone who has always loved getting lost in daydreams (could be my Jupiter in Pisces talking), watching Alice get lost in this amazing world was like getting high in that it stimulated my imagination.

There was also a weird sense of humour that ran through it. I couldn’t quite grasp what was going on since everything was played for satirical nonsense, but I was always taken with the bizarre, and perpetually angry, secondary characters that Alice encounters.

I always loved when she has to make her way through the flower garden. And whenever June rolls around, the song All in the Golden Afternoon gets stuck in my head, especially this part:  

You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
For especially in the month of June

Everything is finally full bloom in June and everything looks so green, so of course my vibe of the month is the flower garden from Alice in Wonderland.

The characterization of flowers – specifically curated garden flowers – being bitchy has always felt really spot on. I never really thought about why before writing this post, but there’s something about garden flowers that make them seem a little snotty.

Maybe it’s the inherent bourgeoisie quality of gardens – the fact that you need to be rich or be able to afford a house (which, in this economy, is being rich) in order to have a backyard garden.

Obviously anyone can establish one of his or her own anywhere if they really wanted to. But to have a personal, English-style garden, the fact remains that you need to have land to create one. And we all know that a specific class of people have largely dominated land ownership.

I feel like the concept of gardens mostly stems from royalty. In the medieval ages, kings and queens would develop their own personal gardens as a space where they could entertain or spend time alone. It’s not like poor or middle class people at that time could access them or build their own, so the idea of having an extensive garden has, for me, always been connected to the very rich.

Or maybe it’s because flowers are just so beautiful that, if they had sentience, it’s believable that they would be proud and judgemental.

Or maybe it’s just because the song was so charming and cute. Maybe I’m just obsessed with the idea of something I love being characterized in a way that makes me laugh – so much so that it’s stuck with me over the years.

Whatever it is that draws me to this scene, I don’t know for sure. All I know is that I can’t look at pansies anymore without seeing these faces:

For someone who loves flowers so much, it’s a personal tragedy that I can’t keep a plant alive to save my life.

It seems so simple and yet every single one has eventually withered and died. The last one was particularly heartbreaking: an ivy I had for a few years slowly rotted away. I trimmed away all the dying sprigs until there was only one left. And it seemed like it was doing okay! It was growing and curling and had signs of new leaves.

I tried not to water it too much because I was scared of drowning it. I let it dry out naturally and then would freshen it up. I think that may have made things worse because one day I noticed that the little green leaves weren’t growing past the bud. And then I saw that the vine was starting to go black at the stem.

Within a few days, it was just a brown stick in a pot of dirt. It still stings. But every June, I still get excited. I roam through flower shops just looking because I’m too nervous to get anything and too shy to ask for help. Maybe this year I’ll get one and give it all my attention, like if I love it enough it’ll stick around for more than a season. But if not, at least there’s always next year.

Image source: Animation Screencaps