American women wear flowers for adornment more generally than the women of any other country. This of itself is proof of the genuineness of their love for flowers. It is absurd to imagine that a custom so universal is based on any sham or passing fashion. The desire for display is prevalent enough, beyond question, but if any one doubts whether the admiration for flowers is an acquired taste - because it is fashionable to wear them - let him carry a handful of them through a city street among groups of children, where unsophisticated nature will find expression. The keen delight of these little ones, who will always accept such a gift, shows that the affection for flowers is an original instinct, which is as strong in this country as it is anywhere. Fashionable freaks and follies pass away, and flowers would have their brief day like any other craze, if the regard for them was artificial or fictitious. The flower-dealers of the country need have no apprehension as to the future of their industry. It is based on one of the elementary wants of our nature. Flowers will be loved until the constitution of the human mind is radically changed.
To those writers who maintain, quoting Miss Wilkins's stories to prove it, that "flowers are an accident, not a daily interest, in village life" in New England, I would say that he who takes this ground can scarcely be familiar with the old country towns of that section to which one must look for the typical aspects of New England life. Like all the sentiments of its people, the love of flowers is there, not paraded, but profoundly cherished; and if there is no gaudy display in the door-yard, there is sure to be found a corner behind the house, easily accessible to the kitchen, where old-fashioned plants bloom gayly, and are cherished often from some tender association with the past. Any country doctor in one of the older New England villages can tell these critics that there are almost no houses so homely, but that he finds in them, in winter, a few plants in the window, and in summer some bright flowers in a tiny garden, cultivated and watered often by feeble and tired hands. Hard and dreary as are many of the poor little lives of New England villagers, this one touch of color and perfume is there almost invariably, to show that the thirst for beauty is unquenched.
If, with its ungrateful soil and tormenting climate, New England cannot rival Old England in the gay surroundings of its cottage doors, the same love of flowers is there, finding such expression as it may, under the cruel conditions of a sterile earth, and burning summer heats and dryness, alternated with sharp east winds, which make a labor as well as a pleasure of a garden.