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In literature and music, flowers have long been associated with love. The poet Pablo Neruda, for example, wrote “In the spring, love, / I want your laughter like / the flower I was waiting for.” Robert Burns penned the famous phrase “My love is like a red, red rose / That’s newly sprung in June.” (But before you get carried away with the romance, remember Whitesnake’s admonition that “Every rose has its thorn.”)

Have some fun with the traditional treatment of flowers in love poems and love songs by considering the more unusual and unsavory floral specimens. Research carrion flowers and select a particular genus or species (in particular, you might want to check out those that incarcerate their insect pollinators, like the European Dutchman’s Pipe or Dead Horse Arum). Then pen a love-gone-wrong song or poem inspired by and/or including the flower.

Talk with someone at a local nursery or garden club. What are the most popular flowering plants in your area? What are some examples of native flowering plants? Are people planting based on a desire to attract specific pollinators, and if so, which ones?

Examine several kinds of flowers using a black light to see which ones exhibit unusual markings in ultraviolet light. (Try portulaca and four-o’clock flowers, for starters.)

TED: Louie Schwartzberg: The hidden beauty of pollination http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_the_hidden_beauty_of_pollination.html

TED: Jonathan Drori: Every pollen grain has a story http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_drori_every_pollen_grain_has_a_story.html

PBS NOVA: First Flower http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/flower/

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