We’ve already done language of spring and we did a big post on spring and flowers last spring. But, so far the huge range of idiom and expression related to plants and horticulture has yet to bloom or bear fruit here.
“Bloom/Blossom”: We better deal with this one first… since it’s one of two in the sentence above. When a plant’s flower opens it can be said to bloom, (or blossom). Figuratively, someone could bloom in a role or just generally meaning that they were doing really well. “After a couple of false starts Simon opened his own coffee shop and really bloomed.”
“Bear Fruit”: If/when something bears fruit it pays off for the people who planted, nurtured, or cared for the plant. This is fairly easy to work out the figurative meaning. “This plan may take a little while to bear fruit, but it is easy to set up and maintain.”
“Grapevine”: We use this expression when we talk about rumours or gossip. But, also when we want to hide our source of information (remember we never do this in academic work). “I heard on the grapevine that Diane is planning to leave the company. Do you think it’s true?”
“Harvest”: Both a noun and a verb the harvest is the reward at the end of a period of hard work. It can be used very pragmatically, “The harvest of this project will take a while to process.” or more emotively “While it’s not always possible attending graduation allows students to celebrate their achievement and have their harvest recognised by their peers and families.”
“Sow the seeds of…”: this phrase recognises that some things take time to develop and need a basis in which to develop. “This new approach to product design should sow the seeds of success for the next 20 years.”
“Kernel”: The kernel is the centre of a seed, but the word is also used to talk about the centre and most essential part of many different things from people to computer code. “Jane while usually avoiding the limelight was at the kernel of the company for many years.”
“Reap what you sow”: This one is similar to harvest but in contrast it is used much more often in negative senses. Reaping is the act of collecting or harvesting a crop, sowing is when the seeds are thrown onto the earth. “I can’t believe it nobody sent me a birthday card this year” “Well you reap what you sow”
“Root & Branch”: This is almost political jargon and it means the whole organisation. “The government promised root and branch reforms to get the economy moving again, but the changes seemed minor, complicated and poorly implemented”
“Set down roots”: If you set down roots you start to feel like a long term local in a new place, it can also be used to mean (well) established in a particular environment or location. “While the City council tried to attract new businesses to the high street few really set down roots.”
“Turn over a new leaf”: This is another one about change. If you turn over a new leaf you choose to change for the better. “This year I’m going to be a better student. I’m tuning over a new leaf and I’m not going to put off my homework anymore.”
“Grasp the nettle”: While stinging nettles are normally to be avoided this is encouragement or advice means to be brave and do something that’s scary/unpleasant, counter-intuitively perhaps but if you grab nettles roughly they are less likely to sting you as badly than if you just brush them lightly. “Grasp the nettle; ask him out for a date.”
“Sour grapes”: If someone has sour grapes they are unhappy about something, and everyone knows it because they are telling people. “Don’t mind Henry, he’s got sour grapes over you getting the promotion to team leader but he knows you deserved it more.”
“Separate the wheat from the chaff”: Once the wheat has been harvested the grain needs to be separated from the chaff, the part of the plant that comes with the grain when harvested. If a process separates the wheat from the chaff it divides the good and/or useful bits/people from those that are not as desirable. “The next test is difficult; it will really separate the wheat from the chaff so make sure you are ready for it.”
“The grass is (always) greener (on the other side of the fence/street)”: This one means that often things can seem better than they are from a little distance, but that this might be deceptive. “Remember the grass is always greener…. His car is pretty, but between the insurance and running costs you could buy a new car every year”
“The darling buds (of May)” like so much of our language we owe this phrase to Shakespeare specifically sonnet 18. “Rough winds may shake the darling buds of May” So he seems to be saying that while people cherish spring flowers that this alone is not perfect and might not make everyone happy.