Friday, April 3, 2009

The Romance of Flower Folklore

April Showers bring those May flowers! So here at Wsoapp, wet took a closer look at some of those very old, traditional garden favorites and discovered the folklore that contributed to their names.

The Legend of Black-eyed Susan and Sweet William

These two much-loved wildflowers have a romantic legend in common, told in an old English poem by John Gay: “All in the downs the fleet was moored, banners waving in the wind. When Black-eyed Susan came aboard, and eyed the burly men.
‘Tell me ye sailors, tell me true, if my Sweet William sails with you.’” This search for Sweet William is one of the all-time favorite wildflower legends, and good gardeners always note that these two species are both biennials, bloom at exactly the same time, and look lovely together.

How the Forget-me-not got its name.

This is a romantic and haunting legend indeed. It is said that a medieval German knight and his lady love were courting together beside a stream. Seeing the lovely sky blue flowers on the banks he began to gather them for his sweet. Without notice tragedy struck the young man when a flash flood descended and swept him into the rushing water. As he was pulled away he tossed the bouquet to his love and uttered the forever famous words. Forget Me Not.

The Daisy

Daisy chains should always have their ends joined when finished as they represent the sun, the earth, and the circle of life. It was once believed that dressing a child in a daisy chain would protect them from being stolen by the fairies.


In Scandinavia, they say that foxes were saved by the fairies from extinction when the fairies gave them the secret of how to ring the foxglove bells to warn other foxes of approaching hunters. The foxes were also known to wear these flower gloves so that they could walk more silently among the chicken roosts to capture an unsuspecting hen or rooster

Sweet pea
In the language of flowers sweet peas are used to say farewell. Sweet peas are said in European folklore to bring good luck, protect children from harm, and promote friendship. This would be an excellent plant for any cottage or child friendly garden.


What cottage garden would be complete without the old fashioned hollyhock? In fact in the early days here in America, the Hollyhock was often planted around outhouses in order to "afford gentlewomen a tad bit more privacy". So when one of our Victorian ancestors needed to use the restroom, she would discretely ask her hosts where their Hollyhock garden was-a proper lady never mentioned an outhouse by name! In the language of the flowers, hollyhock means abundance, fertility, mother of the family, and in some versions, ambition, particularly female ambition.


Meadowbrook Cabin Primitives said...

What a beautiful article... the photos of the flowers are absolutely breathtaking !.. The folklore surrounding flowers makes for interesting and amusing reading !
Hugs and Happiness,

Maureen said...

I truly enjoyed reading this and seeing those lovley pictures. Thank you! I will try adding some to my flower bed this year.