Sandy’s Garden ... The Marigold and the Rose

Sandy Simpson
Sandy Simpson

Even as I write this, Donald J. Trump, 45th and current President of the United States, is at Turnberry, a mere 74 miles from Falkirk by the shortest route.

Whether one likes or dislikes him, there can be no doubt that he is a difficult man to ignore. And his comments before and after his recent meeting with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, the 15th since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, suggest that he may well have read these words by Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen: “I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.”

I expect that President Trump will have heard of Senator Dicksen, who became more closely identified in the public mind with the U.S. Senate than any other senator of his time while he was the Republican Party’s leader on the floor of the Senate between 1959 and 1969, although his name has been virtually forgotten in this country. Less well-remembered even in the U.S., I suspect, is his wonderful appeal to Lyndon B. Johnson, the President in 1967.

“Mr. President, On January 8, 1965, I introduced Senate Joint Resolution 19, to designate the American marigold as the national floral emblem of the United States. Today I am introducing the same resolution with the suggestion that it again be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. The American flag is not a mere assembly of colors, stripes and stars but it in fact symbolizes our origin, development and growth. The American eagle, king of the skies is so truly representing of our might and power. A national floral emblem should represent the virtues of our land and be national in character .The marigold is a native of North America and can in truth and in fact be called an American flower. It is national in character, for it grows and thrives in every one of the fifty states of this nation. It conquers the extremes of temperature. It well withstands the summer sun and the evening chill. Its robustness reflects the hardihood and character of the generations who pioneered and built this land into a great nation. It is not temperamental about fertility. It resists its natural enemies, the insects. It is self-reliant and requires little attention. Its spectacular colors - lemon and orange, rich brown and deep mahogany - befit the imaginative qualities of this nation. It is as sprightly as the daffodil, as colorful as the rose, as resolute as the zinnia, as delicate as the carnation, as haughty as the chrysanthemum, as aggressive as the petunia, as ubiquitous as the violet, and as stately as the snapdragon. It beguiles the senses and ennobles the spirit of man. It is the delight of the amateur gardener and a constant challenge to the professional. Since it is native to America and nowhere else in the world, and common to every state in the Union, I present the American marigold for designation as the national floral emblem of our country.”

The Republican Party was in opposition during Senator Dicksen’s time as leader and his resolution failed, although America did not have a national flower at that time. The rose was designated the official flower of the United States of America as recently as 1986, when then President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation certifying the rose as the national flower in a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden on November 20th. Now, given that the rose is associated with such lofty sentiments and ideas as romance, love, passion, devotion and purity; and that the rose flower also possesses distinct qualities and attributes that set it apart from other blooms and keep its worldwide coterie of fans enchanted; which flower … the marigold or the rose … springs to mind when one thinks of Donald Trump?