Flower Lore for the Month of May

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have an interest in flower history, lore, beliefs, any weird things people of olden (?) times believed or did with flowers. Many of them are a little scary. So many more are so sweet.

I have a copy of Flower Lore by Hilderic Friend written in 1884. It’s chock full of interesting bits about flowers but frustratingly written in flowery language that leaves me interrupting my reading to google long recycled words. The cadence of the writing makes my reading voice (in my head) sound wispy and drawn out. I get crazy eyes and my body starts moving like a possessed flutist in a symphony.

Too much! For the frustrating language and the crazy-making transformative powers, this book has sat in the “purge” pile three times, only to be tried again.


So here is a bit of interesting stuff from the book. In France in the eighteenth century, it used to be custom for the groom to send his bride a little nosegay of fresh, in season flowers every day leading up to the wedding…. um, yes please. The Duke of Montausier send his sweetie pie an artist’s drawing of a flower and commissioned a poet to write a verse about each flower and bound it together in a volume. Every. Day.

Lily of the Valley by mrhyata on Flickr

Another tidbit involves Lily of the Valley which is kind of the flower of May. It is supposed to represent the return of happiness and unconscious sweetness with the coming of Spring according to the Language of Flowers. (One of those books similar to a color book that says by painting your walls orange, you will be excitable) Also, with a blossom shaped like a crown, it is called the Crown Imperial and represents Majesty and Power. Especially interesting given Kate Middleton’s bouquet choice. Apparently lily of the valley has been incorporated into every royal bouquet since Queen Victoria. This bizarre book even alludes to the flower being Jesus’ favorite. Oy.

Here’s an interesting note on Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown and flower choice- taken off of dovima_is_divineII’s page on Flickr

Queen Elizabeth by Dovima_is_DivineII

Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown

“After eight revisions , the 27 year old Elizabeth chose a white gown with an empire’s worth of floral emblems: a Tudor Rose (England), a thistle (Scotland), shamrocks (Ireland), maple leaves (Canada), wattle flowers (Australia), ferns (New Zealand), proteas (South Africa), lotus flowers (India), leeks (Wales), and for Pakistan, three emblems—Wheat, Cotton and Jute. In the same “cover the waterfront” spirit, she carried “an all-white bouquet featuring orchids and lily of the valley from England and Wales as well as stephanotis and carnations from Scotland and the Isle of Man.”

And by the way who knew Jesus had a favorite anything. Brings up all sorts of other questions. And if he had a favorite flower, what was his favorite food? Did he have a favorite cup? pair of sandals? A BFF?

Oy again.

Using lily of the valley in your DIY arrangement? When you get the flowers, pick or buy the ones with most of the flowers in bloom. Closed buds will probably not bloom. Pull apart the stems from the leaf bases and recut them before putting them in water. If they are droopier than they should be, submerging in a water bath can help.

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