In Kashmir, in the spring, they have a flower festival at the foothills of the Himalayas, where they plant the exact same combination of flowers–narcissus, tulips, and hyacinths–as they do in the Ottoman palaces of Istanbul (this is a very classically Ottoman combination).

India is far away from Turkey, but the Turkic world is clearly a cultural touchstone for some Indians (reluctant and otherwise).

The Turkic-Mongol Mughal rulers of India loved Kashmir because in its cooler climate they could plant the flowers they had grown up with in their central Asian homelands.

It’s interesting how the flowers we love can tell a story about who we consider ourselves to be.

Celia Fisher, the author of many books on plants, has written about how planting her own garden has given her a sense of rootedness she never had before.

In popular culture, we associate certain plants with certain places: “English Rose,” “as American as apple pie,” and so on.

I can imagine Ms. Fisher tending to her rose bushes and feeling very English while doing so.

A friend of mine from Washington state, who lives a long way from home, will often stay up late into the night after a long day at work just to bake apple pies–his hometown being famous for its apples.

But roses actually originate somewhere in Central Asia/ China, and as for apples, well, they’re native to Central Asia.


The things that make us feel most at home often come from some place 10,000 miles away.


Why is it that the “foreign” origins of our cherished icons are never spoken of? Sometimes what we don’t say tells the more interesting story.