I met the author of the viral ‘don’t pick my flowers’ note

The internet is bitterly divided over the Great Floral Fracas of 2019.

After a bitter war of Post-It notes erupted on a street in south London, and promptly went viral, the author of the very first note would like to set the record straight. 

A few days ago, I was walking along my road in Brixton when I spotted a tree that was papered a kaleidoscopic array of handwritten notes. “Please don’t pick my flowers. Thank you,” read the first missive. “In an area massively affected by gentrification, it’s sad to see people claiming ownership of even the flowers,” replied another note, penned in green ink. 

After I tweeted photos of the war of words, the argument went viral, gaining 16K likes, and 2.1K retweets, and even a cheeky retweet from James Corden. Everyone was taking sides. The internet was now split into three distinct camps: Team My Flowers, Team Green Ink, and Team Pink Post It Note. 

After the flower argument made its way into nigh-on every national newspaper, I received a DM from the author of the original “don’t pick my flowers” note asking if I’d like to pop round for a chat and a glass of wine in her garden. Naturally, I was keen to meet the owner of the besieged lupin to learn the history of what led up to the posting of the original note. So, last night, I knocked on a door near the site of the floral fracas, and came face to face with the author of the note — Serena Wilson. She handed me a glass of wine and showed me her garden, where she grows plants that she distributes in containers around the neighbourhood. 

Enjoying a glass of wine in Serena's garden.

Enjoying a glass of wine in Serena’s garden.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

Accountant Serena (who declined a photograph of herself) told me she’d had a sleepless night after reading the handwritten replies to her original note. In fact, she felt so upset that she accidentally broke a spade in two digging up the plants from the container that sparked the note war. 

Serena had put the planter on the street for everyone to enjoy. “My friend built the frame, I bought the soil, I put it there — that is my gift to the neighbourhood,” she said.  

“The important message was don’t pick the flowers, but it was also bookended with please and thank you,” she told me. Her note wasn’t intended to spark turf war over who owns flowers, but rather to serve as a message that the plant “belongs to everybody, with the obligation that you leave it there for everybody.” 

A spade was harmed in the making of this floral fracas.

A spade was harmed in the making of this floral fracas.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable 

I asked her about the events leading up to this acrimonious exchange of notes. She told me she’d been planting flowers in containers around the neighbourhood for the past four years. Sharing the plants with the community is something that brings her joy and has helped her through some challenging times recently. “My dad died last year, I had a bugger of a year last year, getting over a long term relationship, my dad dying,” she said. “There’s been quite a lot of stuff to deal with and actually going out and growing stuff is quite nice.”

Serena's back garden.

Serena’s back garden.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

“I basically didn’t sleep on Thursday night, I was just so rigid with anger.”

But Serena — and other community gardeners in the area — had noticed a spate of plants being removed entirely from containers by the root and then left to die. “It’s not just people walking past and taking the odd flower,” said Serena. 

When Serena came home to find not one but two replies to her original note, she was extremely upset. “I came down that evening, I saw those two notes and the big blooms had been removed,” she said. 

The author of the note written in green ink was subject to a rather large dose of criticism when the tweet picked up steam. “I’m fully in team post-it note and absolutely abhor green pen person,” wrote one critic on Twitter. So, what does Serena make of “green ink” — as the author of one of the notes has been dubbed online. “My poison pen pal — what was she trying to achieve?” Serena asked. “Was she telling me not to put plants there because it’s a public area or was she telling me I need to get off my high horse? I basically didn’t sleep on Thursday night, I was just so rigid with anger,” she said. “The thing I really wanted to do was just put a note saying: ‘Reader, I paid for them.'”

One burning question that I needed to get to the bottom of was this: who was responsible for encasing the notes in plastic wallets and pinning them to a tree? Serena told me that the respondents to her note had taken it upon themselves to weather-proof their own notes and even provided their own drawing pins. “That takes some effort,” she said. 

Were the authors of the green-pen note and pink Post-It acting together? Were they even part of the same household? “What makes me think that they weren’t acting together was the fact that their plastic wallets were different and their drawing pins were different — so it was two separate households wanting to tick me off,” she said.

The two notes which prompted Serena to remove her flowers from the street.

The two notes which prompted Serena to remove her flowers from the street.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

“What was amazing this weekend was the people who came to talk to me,” said Serena. After her note gained traction online, Serena said people came over to express their support and sorrow over what had happened. After the green-ink and pink Post-It appeared, Serena decided to take her plants elsewhere, and distributed them in planters in the vicinity. 

“I’ve had people wander over and say ‘I’m really sorry they’ve gone,'” Serena explained. Another time, a neighbour saw her crying and came over and gave her a hug. “I was just standing there looking at the tree and I was so hurt by that green message and this lovely neighbour was just there and said ‘how are you’ and I just burst into tears and she was just there to give me a hug,” said Serena.

I asked Serena how she’s feeling about everything now she’s on the other side of the blossom bloodshed. “I’m feeling my faith in humankind has been so massively restored,” she said. “I’m so alarmed by stuff that’s happening in the world, stuff our politicians are saying, things that are happening with reproductive rights, but I feel so much more positive now.” 

Will she consider putting a container at the scene of the crime again? “Yeah, I will keep watering the plants in the neighbourhood because they’ll die horribly if I don’t,” she said. “What I’m going to do is put a bit of an evergreen in there.”

So, what’s the moral of this summertime saga? That community flowers could always use an extra drop of water from kind passersby. That flowers are for everyone to enjoy. That you should always be nice to your neighbours. 


from Mashable! http://bit.ly/314pT6x