By Connie Goldin, LMFT
Beautiful Flowers ~ Safe Flowers
It seems funny to use the expression “safe flowers.” We love to encourage children to smell, touch, and to even pick flowers. For many of us living in warm Southern California, often beautiful flowers in our gardens, homes and neighborhoods are toxic. It’s important we know which flowers to pick and to smell, and which flowers to simply look at.
For a teen group, we chose to paint with “safe” flowers so we could introduce the students to beautiful flowers, to teach them the names of the flowers, and to discuss the difference between toxic and nontoxic flowers. Of course, flowers don’t come with a sign that says “don’t touch me.” It takes a bit of research and learning to know which are safe and which can cause a rash, a stomach ache if eaten, and especially, those which are seriously toxic, like Oleander.
Mom to Madre has some photos of each group on our website. There is also a link to the California Poison Control, which is a great website to know. We used their list of nontoxic flowers to create the bowl of flowers we brought to the students. Almost everyone we talk to knows very little about toxic plants, including me at the beginning of learning about this subject. I raised two sons to adulthood without a lot of this important information. Luckily, they never were tempted to eat flowers as toddlers, but many children do!
So we talked with the students about orchids, hibiscus, sunflowers, impatiens, camellias, bougainvillea, nasturtium, rosemary, and geraniums, to name a few safe flowers. Then we painted. The students explored the flowers, and lo and behold, there was a discovery! One of the nasturtium leaves had insect eggs in a perfectly geometric pattern. After a search on Google Images, it appears to be the eggs of a Southern Green Stink Bug! I think it would be more exciting to have the eggs of a beautiful butterfly, but such is nature.