My favourite passage in The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo is an anecdote about the appreciation of flowers.
Flower stories are endless. We shall recount but one more. In the sixteenth-century the morning-glory was as yet a rare plant with us. Rikiu had an entire garden planted with it, which he cultivated with assiduous care. The fame of his convolvuli reached the ear of the Taiko, and he expressed a desire to see them, in consequence of which Rikiu invited him to a morning tea at his house. On the appointed day the Taiko walked through the garden, but nowhere could he see any vestige of the convulvus. The ground had been leveled and strewn with fine pebbles and sand. With sullen anger the despot entered the tea-room, but a sight waited him there which completely restored his humour. On the tokonoma, in a rare bronze of Sung workmanship, lay a single morning-glory — the queen of the whole garden!
I have fondly traded in paraphrases of this excellent story. However, it is only upon copying it out here that I realized that the generic “flower” of my tellings is actually species-specific. It adds a note of poignancy to realize that the morning-glory does not flourish as a cut flower. As Okakura continues: “In such instances we see the full significance of the Flower Sacrifice.”
And so for day 1886