Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The language of flowers

There are lots of books that tell us about the meaning of flowers.  The Victorians were fascinated by the subject and hundreds of books were published about it.  A white rose means purity and innocence and a red rose means love.  The new tulips which now grow in our garden mean 'declaration of love' and our alliums mean 'prosperity'.

Even Shakespeare's plays were used, rue was said to indicate regret - this is from Ophelia's mad ravings in Hamlet:

 There's fennel for you, and columbines:
there's rue for you; and here's some for me:
we may call it herb-grace o' Sundays:
O you must wear your rue with a difference

Rosemary is said to symbolise remembrance, the tradition of this is probably far older than Shakespeare's time  'There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.'  

We are lucky in England in that many of the flowers that grow wild have wonderful names that describe their traditions and meaning.  My favourite of these if Forget-Me-Not, a dainty and beautiful flower that we grow here at Hazel Cottage.  This year we even have some growing wild in our lawn!

So many flowers are named after Mary, the mother of Jesus.  The Madonna Lily of course, but there are scores of flowers and shrubs named in her honour, usually starting with 'Our Lady'.  Lady's Mantle still bears her name, but in medieval times clematis was the Virgin’s Bower and lavender was Our Lady’s Drying Plant.  In the fourteenth century the poet Dante called Mary "the Rose, in which the divine Word became flesh."  So of  course the rose is also her symbol.  Even the humble marigold - or Mary's Gold as it once was, is named after her.

Lilies at our local church at Easter
I tried to bring in a good number of flowers into the house for Easter.  This year I was blessed with a larger number of flowers as Easter was quite late. In addition to the daffodils we bought, I added forget-me-nots, grape hyacinth, pansies, chive flowers and flowering currants.


If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom. ~Terri Guillemets

1 comment:

  1. What I like is how the original Latin names give indictations as to what plants were used for. Our garden is full of forget me nots at the moment and I leave them to seed everywhere because they are so pretty.