Lego flowers blooming in their (un)natural habitatEva Heffernan with permission for Varsity

Lego flowers are (fairly) new, and they’re popular. Lego’s “botanical collection” has grown from its single resident, the humble bonsai tree, to include Lego potted plants, succulents, flower centrepieces, and, most interestingly, bouquets. Compared to the other items in the collection, these quirky imitations of floristry flowers are highly suitable gifts. Nevertheless, giving fake blooms as heartfelt presents is certainly a new and fascinating phenomenon – so how did we get here? Are Lego flowers simply soulless plastic, or the (un)natural next step to Victorian traditions?

Throughout written history, flowers have been something of an obsession. Assigning meanings and symbolism to flora is something we’ve been doing for centuries, a trend which reached its peak when Victorian dictionaries of flower-meanings, such as The Sentiment of Flowers, became popular reading. Since then, flowers have remained fashionable – in art and in real life – both as a form of symbolism and a pervasive part of our daily culture. This is especially true for Cambridge students living around scores of meticulously prepared college gardens and flowerbeds. It’s no surprise, then, that the passage of time has inevitably presented us with a fresh take on the old, beloved flower.

“The plastic shine of the Lego petals lasts forever”

The Lego bouquets appeal in a number of ways compared to traditional flowers. Most obviously: when you buy a real bouquet, you and your giftee are shouldered with the knowledge that, soon enough, those beautiful flowers will wither and die. On the other hand, the plastic shine of the Lego petals lasts forever. This seems like an undeniable upside – but what if it’s not? A case can certainly be made that flowers lose their meaning when they last forever.

There was a time when flowers took the pride of place in every stately home, were changed according to the seasons, and carefully replaced afresh whenever they withered. In most homes this is no longer the case. Flowers now symbolise that something has happened: a gift for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day; for somebody coming home from hospital; for an actor on the closing night of their show. Maybe the beauty of these moments is that they pass. The flowers are cared for, then they wither, and then the vase stands empty until the next important moment. Flowers make such life-moments fresh and exciting – that’s why we love them. Turning this gift into plastic makes the moment no longer temporary, but immortalised. While enduring gifts have their place – nobody would object to a gift of jewellery to celebrate a graduation or a potted plant as a housewarming gift – there is a strangeness to taking a gift meant to be temporary and forcing it into permanence.

“Isn’t it typical that we don’t want to spend more than a tenner on something if it won’t be here in a few weeks?”

Perhaps there’s a materialistic appeal to flowers that last forever. Isn’t it typical that we don’t want to spend more than a tenner on something if it won’t be here in a few weeks? We’re willing to trade in on their beautiful smell, their soft texture, watching them bloom and wither, the routine of holding them in a little bunch over the sink while we change their water … all for spinnable hinges and expandable leaves.


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Nevertheless, Lego flowers have been a success: despite any perceived shortcomings, they have a loving audience. So now is the time for me to confess that I have, in fact, bought Lego flowers for a loved one. After all, it’s not impossible to be sentimental about something that lasts forever. There’s nothing new about preserving flowers; we’ve pressed them, dried them, made perfumes with them, and planted our gardens with them year upon year. But we also draw and paint them, preserving them in art – maybe making them into Lego figures is just the same.

“There’s something beautiful about loving something enough to preserve it infinitely”

Human beings are sentimental. Whether the meaning of a bouquet is lost when it’s made to last forever, or whether there’s something beautiful about loving something enough to preserve it infinitely, when you choose a gift that is meant to only last a few weeks, and then, against all odds, make it last forever – that is movingly special.

If Lego flowers invoke the sentiment of real flowers, that’s reason enough for me to love them. Most simply, they say: “I’m giving you flowers.” Perhaps more accurately, they say: “I’m giving you flowers, but the thought of flowers dying makes me sad, so I’m giving you flowers that we can build together and keep forever instead.” And isn’t that sweet?