What will be the new flower?


29 December 2020

Courtesy of Stefano Boeri Architetti

Inspired by Italy’s primrose campaign, Garland seeks nominations for its next flower.

Finally, 2020 ends with a note of hope as vaccination begins to roll out (at least in the North). This is an opportunity not only counter a virus, but also to revive confidence in the future.

In Italy, they are using the primrose (primula) as an emblem for their vaccination program. The government selected this flower in consultation with urban planner Stefano Boeri. According to Boeri, “The primrose is the first flower after the winter, it’s something even a child knows.”  There is the challenge to ensure as many as possible get vaccinated. Negative factors, such as side effects, pain and inconvenience, need to be countered with positive symbols. For Boeri, vaccination should be a pleasurable experience: “It’s one thing to go get vaccinated in a container or in a military field hospital and it’s another to go into a luminous space in the form of a flower.”



Flowers are clearly an intrinsic part of the Garland project. As adornment, the string of flowers celebrates the ephemeral beauty of the world around us. The flowers of the garland can have different meanings. The Zapotec in Oaxaca make a garland out of water lilies in reference to the myth of Mudubina, a celestial romance that is only consummated at night when the lily opens its flower.

Each year of our journey has been represented by a different flower of the garland, which is used to name our books.

As we enter the new phase of Garland 2.0, what should be the flower of 2021? Thanks to Abdullah Syed, Andrea Ferrera, Pamela See, Tanya Dutt, Julia Raath, Kolokesa Uafā Māhina-Tuai, Rudee Tancharoen for the nominations below:


“I would suggest a flower I love dearly but is perhaps too South American to be well known. I have it at home but it’s a wild climber that grows along railways in Buenos Aire but has a wide range. I have witnessed personally the immense generosity of this plant, which holds like a mini-ecosystem around its flowers and fruits: Mburucuya.”


“After only a little thought I would suggest Irises… Based on my google search – the words wisdom, hope, trust and Valor got me in. Here’s is my source… plus I have been growing them this year and they gave me great joy when they were in bloom during lockdown. Irises, they come in a huge range of colours and are a spectacular flower and represent hope, trust, wisdom and valour!”


“Immediately I thought of my most favourite flower ‘Gardenia’ because of the beautiful scent BUT also it’s association with close members of my family and particularly my maternal grandfather. And after reading the link you sent, I thought what a great idea! And I’ve just done a google search of what gardenia means… and I like the insights provided by this link….”

“And in light of the global pandemic we’ve / we are going through.. I love this sense of the symbolism behind gardenia…“Gardenias also symbolize the idea of renewal and starting something new. They can symbolize other common themes, too, including hope, dreams, and beauty.” LOVE this meaning too…”

“Gardenias originated in Asia, found in countries such as Japan, Taiwan, and China. It has been grown in this region for more than 300 years, typically harvested for its use as a yellow dye. It was also used medically to treat anxiety, infection, and depression.”


“Poinsettia for me as I think we need something to represent a symbol of the Star which leds us out of the 2020 mess. The red colored leaves symbolize new blood, good health. The white leaves represent purity and world peace and healing to me. The Poinsettia is also the national emblem of Madagascar and the flower originated in Mexico I think.”


Lotus. The symbol of rebirth


“How about Dandelion? “Dandelion is considered as a symbol of overcoming all the difficult moments that happen to us in life. The ability of this small flower to persevere through some difficult living conditions is extraordinary and praise-worthy.”

“I try to search on the internet for Thai flower with the meaning of “hope” or “healing” but couldn’t find any.- But I found Tampopo. They said the flower represents “happiness and hope” in Japanese culture. It is common used for the shop’s name. People feel happy to see them.- The English meaning described on internet is also not bad. They said, “The Dandelion means: Healing from emotional pain and physical injury alike.”


“It is the species from which tea is made. Symbolic of Southern China. there are a few different interpretations in the link.”


“Allium flower. It symbolises unity, good fortune, prosperity, humility and patience.”


“Rose more specifically Deep red velvety rose … that turns into black! Rose symbolises love life and grief death…. from Physical and spiritual transformation.”



“I would like to recommend Rajneegandha as the flower! I have a very personal relationship with the flower. When I use to live by myself, I did not use to like returning to a lonely house. But as soon as I would unlock my flat, I was greeted by the fragrance of Ranjneegandha. My heart would be filled with joy. It is flowers that blossoms at NIGHT with a beautiful fragrance! The ability to not just booming in the dark, but spearing the fragrance and encouraging everyone is what we need during the pandemic. Hope the world will overcome the darkness, meanwhile: Rajanee+gandha= Night’s fragrance would keep the hearts alive.”

Like the article? Make it a conversation by leaving a comment below.  If you believe in supporting a platform for culture-makers, consider becoming a subscriber.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Isabella says:

    What about the daisy? It’s a humble flower, but prevalent across many different lands. It’s also the basis of our first string of flowers, the daisy chain.

  • Rowena says:

    They are all lovely but my vote is for the passion fruit flower – mburucuya. That name is new to me. There is a bush passion fruit where I live in Broome, not native, but very common.
    The flower is complex, like our times. It’s a very tough vine, producing tasty fruit. And we need passion to survive.

  • Kevin Murray says:

    Thank you for the wonderful nominations. Here’s the proposal for the flower of 2021: https://www.loom.com/share/9e8c58f615394d53a5ba25280b3b13d8

  • Lokesh Ghai says:

    This is such a delight to read and think of blossoms from across the world, while still partly locked at home ! Thanks for including Rajneegandha. All the flowers are beautiful.