Linda Copeland is an accomplished horticulturist, co-author of Legends in the Garden and for over two decades has coordinated worldwide garden tours for Garden Vistas. She has added children’s book author to her resume with the publication of Bitsy’s Happy Bouquet, illustrated by Lindy Burnett.
She sent me a copy to review and I wanted to share the story of Bitsy’s Happy Bouquet with the Slow Flowers community — if it can inspire children to view flowers as a way to celebrate small and large occasions and relationships, the future will be much brighter!
In our correspondence, I was struck by Linda’s singular vision — of nurturing the love of flowers in all children. She wrote:
I feel flowers are the most amazingly beautiful natural wonders and have long been aware of the joy, pleasure, and their symbol of caring. Because I feel these qualities are less acknowledged by our own culture, I wished to write a book that would give children the message of the importance of flowers. I hope it will provide the intended message and also be a book they enjoy.
Linda agreed to answer some questions for this post. Please enjoy her words and Lindy Burnett’s drawings of the little girl who gives flowers!
Q: You have an extensive gardening background. Can you share some highlights?
A. I have loved flowers and gardening since I was a child. I ended up majoring in economics in college, but after my children were grown, I took as many plant-related courses as I could–horticulture, botany, dendrology, etc.–at the University of Georgia, about 60 miles from Atlanta. I have also been involved with many gardening volunteer activities in Atlanta and worked closely with the staging of the Southeastern Flower Show, served on its Board, and had many entries For 24 years I worked with Allan Armitage planning and coordinating garden trips to many countries. Planning and visiting on these trips, I have been fortunate to see many glorious garden creations and meet many wonderful gardeners.
Q: What inspired you to write Bitsy’s Happy Bouquet?
A. My love for flowers! I can think of little else in our wonderful world that has the beauty of a single blossom. I wish for all children to recognize the beauty of flowers and believe that flowers can give messages of caring to others.
Q: I love the way you feature all the phases of life and human emotions that even children experience — as reasons for flower-giving. Do you think flower-gifting is on the rise?
A. I wrote this book hoping this would definitely become so. It seems to me that people in Western Europe have a greater sense of the importance of giving flowers than we do in our country. A guide in Poland told me he would never visit anyone without taking flowers!
Q: How did you find such a talented illustrator as Lindy Burnett?
A. Wow, wasn’t I lucky?! I was telling a friend about my Bitsy project and she gave me Lindy’s name. When I told Lindy what I wanted to do she embraced the project with enthusiasm. I was absolutely thrilled and we had a great time deciding on the illustrations.
Q: Can you share a fun experience you’ve had reading Bitsy’s Happy Bouquet to children in your life or at events?
A. The little boy who lives next door to me was so excited about Caterpillar Sam that he drew his own Sam and gave it to me. His mom said that for weeks he would not go to bed without having Bitsy read to him. Another friend told me that after giving Bitsly to her grandchildren, she was taking them to visit an elderly relative and they would not go with taking flowers. I have also enjoyed reading Bitsy to elementary children at several schools. One of the groups sent me an envelope full of thank you notes from the children.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A. There is a magnet on my fridge which reads, “Flowers are for our souls to enjoy.” I do believe flowers are magnificent symbols of happiness and beauty and it would be difficult to live without them. Such messages I hope to convey to children. In addition, my yoga teacher sent me the following quote from the Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh:
“When we look deeply into the heart of a flower, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth and everything else in the cosmos in it. Without clouds there could be no rain, and without rain there would be no flower.”
—-and, without flowers…I hate to think!
Q. How can people find and follow you?
A. There is a Facebook site for Bitsy’s Happy Bouquet. I post there the times when I am going to be reading to groups. After events, I post photos.