Ansel Adams (1902-1984): Graduation Dress, Yosemite, California, 1948, gelatin silver print; ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust; courtesy Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd.

It started with the bees. More like it ended with the bees. With the extinction of honey bees, pollination of plants took a big hit. Most of the food crops, like corn and soy and the like, were made sure to be saved and carefully grown in labs where they could be pollinated without bees. The flowers were not seen with the same importance and soon the once brightly colored fields and gardens faded to dull, grey emptiness. It didn’t take long for people to miss the beautiful quality of a flower, but by then it was too late.

In an attempt to compensate for the loss of the exquisite beauty, sales of artificial flowers skyrocketed. In homes and gardens where there were once soft, bright, joyful blossoms, there were now rough, stitched petals on hard green stems. The manufactured quality of said flowers allowed people to completely customize their gardens and centerpieces. Flowers of all shapes and sizes and colors filled homes and offices, providing an off-brand replacement for the real deal.

People were happy, though, with their imitation lilies and roses. The loss of natural beauty was little mourned. Life went on.

Flowers, which were once associated with beauty and elegance, were now affiliated with artificial, manufactured attention-grabbers. People began to refer to “fake” people as “flowery,” living their manufactured lives. Excuses that seemed to be a little far-fetched appeared “flowered.” A new genre of fiction movies became known as “flower films.”

If it is a flower, it is fake. Flowers are no longer real, but sad attempts at replacing the beauty of the real.