“Peace proclaims Olives of endless age” Shakespeare, Sonnet 107
There is an interesting phenomenon that happens during times of peace. Known as a horticultural boom; history shows us that there are increases in literacy, food supplies, and botanical knowledge. Elizabeth I encourage sharing in horticultural research and food sustainable practices.
Branches and blossoms of trees have their own language. During this time of midwinter, branches transform in the moments of bright light. When designing your peace bouquet here are some ways to express your thoughts. Select branches with blooms that just about to burst forward symbolizing the hope of good things to come.
Almond (Prunus amygdalus /dulcis) branches mean hope. Phyllis, the Queen of Thrace, believed her lover, Demophon an Athenian, would never return from war. She commits suicide. The Gods are empathic turned her into an almond tree. When Demophon returns, he embraced the tree where it blossomed and became a symbol of constant love and eternal hope.
Apple (Malus) branches with their blossoms just opening are a symbol of peace. The colors range from pink to white as they send healing energy out to the world. Apple blossoms produced oxygen day and night while attracting pollinators with their delightful fragrance.
The white and striking bark of birch (Betula) trees with red branches, speak to rebirth and new beginnings. The tree represents graciousness in all matters.
Cherry (Prunus) blossoms represent power. A single cherry blossom means celebrate new beginnings.
The hawthorn’s (Crataegus) white blossoms support the first bees of the year. The branches offer hope, banish strife, and protection. It is not recommended to bring the branches indoors, as flies are drawn to its carrion scent.
Hazelnut (Corylus avellana) branches in a bouquet, offer reconciliation and wisdom. This is an ancient tree of Knowledge and Inspiration. The red flower (female) of hazelnuts is quite discreet. You must look closely to spy them with their Whoville looking blossom.
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) blossoms and the tree mean please do me justice. Smaller branches are shaped like a horse-shoe mimicking luck and bringing smiles to an arrangement.
Olive (Oleacea) branches are a symbol of peace from ancient times to modern. The Egyptians considered the branches a symbol of everlasting power. I have never seen flowers on olive branches and found this site that has great photos to share.
Quince branches (Chaenomeles) mean rebirth, represents a choice, and abundance. Their flowers are a striking salmon color tucked in between the thorny branches.
The pink blossoms of plum trees (Prunus) lay flat on the branches to meet the sun’s rays. A symbol of winter that indicates a strong personality who is unafraid of difficulties.
The pines (Pinus), cones, and boughs send hope and friendship. Pine trees represent longevity, steadfastness, self-discipline, endurance, and long life. All required when seeking peace in no matter what form for one’s soul, local or global areas.
Willow (Salix) branches bending with their golden, red, and yellow shades are wonderful elements of a winter bouquet. All willows speak to healing, protection, and being brave in times of sadness.
Yew (Taxus) branches and foliage with their evergreen leaves speak to immortality and everlasting life. They send wishes for smooth transitions and transformations. They tell us that peace can be a death and rebirth step and shield and protect the sender and receiver.
Larkin Van Horn created this tapestry of peace. I met Ms. Van Horn while her craft was displayed at the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Museum during a special exhibit on peace. Please see her blog http://larkinart.com/. Many thanks for her permission to use this piece in my blog.
The Magic of Flowers by Tess Whitehurst
Botanical Shakespeare: An Illustrated Compendium of All the Flowers, Fruits, Herbs, Trees, Seeds, and Grasses Cited by the World’s Greatest Playwright Hardcover – Illustrated, April 4, 2017 , by Gerit Quealy (Author), Sumie Hasegawa Collin
“Change is afoot,” Anonymous
As 2021 approaches, significant changes are in the air, literally. Ancient tribes like the Hopi tell us cosmic energies are coming from the galaxies that will upgrade planetary consciousness. In astrology, the Aquarian Age starts at 0 degrees. Aquarius’ modern ruler is the planet Uranus, discovered at the time of the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution. It is recognized as the planet of change where the concepts of individualism began. Its ancient ruler Saturn brings structure and reality to Aquarius’ thinking process. Together all three entities bring and support the future, always working to merge responsible action with consequences constructively.
Aquarians, those born between (January 20th – February 18th) will start to shine under this energy influx. The sign of Aquarius is the sign of the people. It is an air sign with its home in the 11th of friendship and personal goals. The sign of originality, the individuals reflect this trait along with their fiercely independent and eccentric nature. Aquarians innovating thinking and Uranus, the planet of light, create new inventions and technology.
You may ask, what does this have to do with plants? Aquarians and Uranus offer sparks, innovative techniques, they are the seekers. The plants grow in unusual places and are a bit wonky, with strange scents showing the Aquarian originality of wanting to be realistic or inspirational. Trees stand strong, embracing the winter cold. Sacred spaces must rejuvenate and nurture the Aquarian spirit in all seasons. Paths to their special place to start in the east, capturing the quietness before the sun bursts forth with its energetic rays. They are quiet and meditative spaces, helping Aquarians to calm their active minds. The spaces are low maintenance with meandering plants of forest grass or woolly thyme spilling out alongside walkways and patios. Water features are near sitting benches offering moments of tranquility.
As the Age of Aquarius pours, its creative energies and knowledge to, us start with celebrating with the flowers of Aquarius. I’ve listed a few.
Camellias are a wonderful choice. Their shapes are rose-like, ranging from single to double forms. They come in singular or combinations of whites, creams, pinks, and reds. Their constant blooming and evergreen leaves keep nature with you. A few slightly perfumed varieties are in the Camellias sasanqua – Pink-A-Boo, Kramer’s Supreme, and Buttermint.
In The Language of Flowers, red blooms mean unpretending excellent warmth, and loveliness. Pink expresses longing. White tells the receiver; you are adorable and an example of perfected loveliness. The ancient meanings meant constancy and steadfastness.
Madeleine du Plessis, the Lady of Camellias, carried bouquets of camellia for 25 days each month. She was a French Courtesan whose story has been told in plays, operas, and books for her representation of earthiness and idyllic human love.
Violets, Viola is another plant and flower to bring indoors. They are adorable in boutonnieres, corsages, or small bouquets. Often found to link love and humans, violets are in the tales of the Greek myths of Zeus and Hera. Puck used them to do Oberon’s bidding in The Midsummer Night’s Dream. Napoleon returned when the violets bloomed, and Josephine died.
Violets come in many hues from blue to purple to white and yellow. The Language of Flowers, violets mean modesty, I return your love, simplicity, and sweet beauty. Blue means faithfulness, calming hope, and I’ll be true. White is for candor and innocence, and purity of sentiment.
One of the most colorful flowers representing Aquarius is the Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia. Five varieties can be found in its native South Africa, where it is called crane flower. King George III (1760-1820) of England saw this flower in the royal gardens and name it after Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
The Language of Flowers suggests using the Bird of Paradise for individuals who have just made significant steps in their lives. Other meanings are it sends joyfulness, optimism, and if heaven exists on Earth, this flower represents that. The multiple colors found in its bloom represent Nature. Its bold shades of red, orange, yellow, and green capture romance, passion, and respect. A great cut flower producing flowers for several weeks from one stalk.
All the best to you and yours in 2021.
100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names, Diana Wells
Language of Flowers, Kate Greenway
Plant Lore, Legends and Lyrics, Richard Folkard
The Language of Flowers, Robert Pollark
The Magic of Flowers, A Guide to Their Metaphysical Uses & Properties, Tess Whitehurst
“In December keep yourself warm and sleep” Laura Martin
White is the color of winter. It is the color of the evening where it shines and illuminates everything in its presence. White is the shade of diamonds appearing in the cold, clear night. White looks spectacular against shades of dark evergreens or mixed with holly. Bring shades of white inside to celebrate the rebirth of the Green Man and keeping in touch with Nature mixing with evergreens and mistletoe, contributing to the magic for this time of year.
The color white speaks to new beginnings and whole health. It is feminine energy representing fertility, royalty, spiritual truth, and strength. White helps to bring mental clarity to one’s thoughts or actions. It conveys reverence, silence, and humility.
The celestial light is white. In a sacred space, white is the number one color for reflection, attracting benevolent spirits and elementals to support a quiet area. The shapes of round or oval and arches represent white and will move energy through your sacred space. In The Language of Flowers, white represents a loss, sending peace or forgiveness to the receiver. Plant shades of white or pick up a bouquet for yourself when you need healing or clarity.
The following three plants are a part of Christmas and represent the color white.
Their common name is mums. Chrysanthemum is from the Greek chrysos for gold, anthos for flower. Mums originate from China and are revered in Japan when translated means gold flower. In Australia, mums are the flowers for Mother’s Day.
In The Language of Flowers, mums mean longevity, truth, vigor, and new perspectives. Sadly, mums were often at gravesites in Europe and became associated with death. In the United States, they are The Queen of Fall Flowers, introduced through colonial gardening.
A brief history of mums. Their initial use was as a culinary herb, cultivated for over 3000 years. Considered one of Four Noble Plants in China, along with bamboo, plum, and orchids or Four Gentlemen signifying the changing seasons. Mums traveled to Japan and became the symbol of the Mikado (Emperors). The emperors wore a single chrysanthemum as the crest and official seal. A revered plant in Japan since 910 BCE, they are celebrated on National Chrysanthemum Day. Chrysanthemum morifolium traveled to England in 1795, where they started their journey to the west. Cultivated as garden mums, they are bred the world over.
Metaphysically mums fall under the fire element, associated with masculine energy, and ruled by the Sun.
Poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima
Common names are many. Bird of Paradise Flower, Christmas Flower, and Christmas Star. Ones that reflect the original red are Scarlet Starburst, Mexican Flame Leaf, Winter Rose, Flor de la Noche Buena or Flower of the Holy Night.
The Aztecs called it Cuitlaxochitl (ket-la-sho-she ) which means flower that grows in soil, or star-flower. They were a sacred plant to the Aztecs, representing purity. Today, through much cultivation, they come in shades and combinations of reds, pinks, and whites.
In The Language of Flowers, poinsettias symbolize good cheer, success and bring wishes of mirth and celebration. These traits bring joy, love, hope, purity, and respect for motherhood when given as a gift.
A brief history of poinsettias. The botanical name pulcherrima means most beautiful. They have a short bloom time in their native land bursting forth in December where they decorate temples and churches. Named for Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, United States ambassador to Mexico under President Martin Van Buren. He was a botanist and became enchanted by the star-shaped bracts and its novelty. It was Paul Ecke Sr., the Father of the Poinsettia Industry, of Paul Ecke Ranch, in California, that saw a marketing opportunity. With its late blooming of the year, he took and ran with production in the early 1920s. When he died, Congress established December 12th as National Poinsettia Day in honor of his ability to create a floral business impacting the Christmas market. This day coincides with Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations in Mexico.
Metaphysically poinsettias are a fire element, associated with masculine energy, and ruled by Saturn.
Snapdragons, Antirrhinum ma jus
Botanically, the first part of Anti means rhino a nose, referring to the snout of the flower. Common names are snaps, dragon flowers, and rabbit lips, all referring to the snap made when gently squeezing the sides.
In The Language of Flowers, snapdragons mean protective, fiery, brimming with life-force, presumption, and desperation (don’t mess with me or else.) They protect properties from the unseen and known energies. In a sacred space when planted, promote honesty and openness. White snaps reflect the traits of worthiness, expressing a likeness for and appreciation of their friendship. They represent the grace and purity of innocence.
Giving them in a bouquet they say you respect the Strength of the recipient and honor hardworking individuals. During the Victorian era, a bouquet of snapdragons usually meant a proposal was coming soon. Hiding a snapdragon in your clothing made you appear fascinating and alluring.
A brief history on snapdragons. They are originally from Spain and Italy making their journey through the Roman Empire where they have become a favorite garden and cut flower. They are one of the plants of the Faires. Cultivated varieties are constantly named flower of the year. They are bred in multiple colors and come in three heights, dwarf, immediate and tall.
Metaphysically snapdragon is a fire element with male and female energies. They are co-ruled by Mars and Venus.
100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names, Diana Wells
1112, Down-to-Earth Garden Secrets, Birds & Blooms Books
Chrysanthemums: History and Flower Forms, New York Botanical Garden, March 23, 2020
Garden Spells, An Enchanting Collection of Victorian Wisdom, Claire Nahmad
History and Meaning of Chrysanthemums, Pro Flowers
Leaves, In Myth, Magic & Medicine, Alice Thomas Vitale
Magical Herbalism, Scott Cunningham
Meaning & Symbolism of Poinsettias, Teleflora
The History of Snapdragons, Deborah Harding, September 21, 2017
The Magic of Flowers, Tess Whitehurst
“I’m so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers.” L.M. Montgomery
“I love Halloween, and I love the feeling the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.” Evan Peters
I could not decide on which quote, so I included them both for one of my favorite months. It is good to see the signs of Hallows Eve in my neighborhood. The night when the veil is lowered between realms and wisdom comes forth. During this time of year, the unseen realms are honored. Hallowmas is the Feast of the Holy Ones where saints are remembered in Christianity. The Celtic festival of Samhain marks when summer ends and fall begins. It is the start of the New Year for the Celts and Fall in Japan.
October is when many cultures remember their ancestors and those who have passed. Buddhists plant red spider lilies on graves to honor their ancestors and as a tribute to the dead. Japanese folklore tells us they bloom when you meet someone you will not meet again. October 31st begins the Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico.
Marigolds are a Halloween flower. Plant them near your front door to make you smile and uplift the energy of your home. They will protect you from negativity and welcome beneficent spirits from the other side. Your light shines to the ethers harmonizing spirits. In India and South America, marigolds help souls to transition from this realm to the next.
From Christianity practices, we are told soul cakes were a way of honoring wandering souls. Children and the poor, in return for food, would go from house to house collecting soul cakes’ to honor the dead. The custom of the living going a’ soulin became part of Halloween. The spirit world crossing over to the human side led to Mischief Night, where masks and costumes led to pranks from door to door and begging goodies. A soulin and Mischief Night led to trick or treating.
Pumpkins: turnips, potatoes, mangold, and beets were the original vegetables carved. Pumpkins came in with the Irish legend of Stingy Jack. The short version is that this character Jack played a couple of games with the devil. Upon his death, Jack tried to get into hell and then heaven. Because of his shenanigans, he was not welcomed in either realm. Jack was left with his turnip lantern and forced to wander forever. The story traveled to the United States, where pumpkins became the traditional Jack-o-Lanterns.
Bobbing for apples or suspending them on strings and catching them is another favorite activity at this time of the year. Marriages were predicted by peeling the skin of an apple. One long piece was tossed over the left shoulder and the initial it formed was the future spouse. In the Celtic practices, the hazelnuts and chestnuts were collected and thrown on the fires to speak of true romance. Nutcracker Night foretold true romance.
On Halloween night, catch a falling leaf before it lands, and you will have good fortune throughout the year.
Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) was believed to be the favorite plant of the devil in the Middle Ages. In the Reformation, witches and sorcerers were added to the list of associations with the devil. Belladonna is the Italian word for a beautiful or pretty woman and was used to dilate the eyes, once considered a beauty trait. Women with their white skins and dark eyes looked ghost-like, leading to many a tale of nightly visions. Nightshade is a plant with many roles: medicine, cosmetics, and poison.
The cool, white, and pipe-shaped of ghost plants, (Monotropa uniflora), are found in established wooded areas. Known as ghost pipes with their white stalks and touch of black specks, they grow in the dark. They are sometimes thought of as thieves for their parasitic nature. This plant makes ghosts jealous as they are edible.
Wolfsbanes (Aconitum napellus) keeps werewolves at bay. The Queen of All Poisons is highly toxic, slowing the heart. It is an intriguing flower that looks like a Devil’s Helmet. Wolfsbanes contains neurotoxins that are poisonous to humans and animals. Wearing gloves while handling any parts of this plant is recommended.
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) produce skeletons. From its bright orange covering emerges a skeleton form looking like a web that traps its berry in the center.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis) produces flowers that appear stringy, reflecting images of the Greek Medusa. The witch in witch hazel comes from Middle English wiche meaning pliant or bendable. Diving rods were made from the branches of witch hazel to detect water and salt. At one time called water witching. Galls can form on the branches in the fall. Children thought they looked like witches’ hats. Both traits influenced the witch part of the name.
Several plants are called Witches Thimbles. The folklore is that centuries ago, they were planted by a gardener who was later called a witch. These days they are associated with Halloween. Examples include Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), and Devil’s Nettle (Achillea millefolium) .
Dark and Stormy
If this blog has sparked an interest in Halloween plants, start planning next year’s garden. Pick plants with Halloween or gothic names or that just sound weird and creepy – Bat Face, Voodoo Lily, or the dark elephant ear, Puckered Up. Incorporate evening blooming plants (primroses, nicotiana, moonflowers, or jasmine) or those plants that open and dusk and close as dawn breaks, repeatedly breaking the magic of Halloween night–moonflowers or the phlox, Midnight Candy. For low containers, add the black aeonium rosettes of Dragon’s Blood Sedum (Sedum spurium) and watch their deep red flower buds emerge as Fall enters. Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) draping out of the edge of containers reminds of spiders coming out of the dirt.
Here are a few sites to help plan your Halloween garden
Scary Plants For Your Halloween Garden, Fine Gardening Magazine
Strange and Spooky Plants for Halloween, Cindy Hayne, Iowa State University Extension Service
Halloween Plants – 21 Spooky Plants to Set A Scary Mood, The Gardening Cook
Halloween Inspired Plants: Learn About Plants With A Halloween Theme, Gardening Know How
Celebrate Halloween, Garden Collage
Mangelwurzels, Creepiest Jack-o-Lanterns
Whitehurst, T., The Magic of Flowers
Witch-hazel, Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine
Read more on Ghost Pipes and Mycotrophic plants
Mycotrophic Wildflowers, United States Forest Service
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is for information only.
Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul. Luther Burbank
As Fall of 2020 approaches and my seasonal job ended, it presents an opportunity to reflect. My photography skills have improved greatly through constant practice and reviewing hundreds of photos with a good friend and Emma Davies beginning photo classes. I have been attending to my writing skills through Stephen Wilber’s online courses and blogs. All are combining to help me complete my next book.
Reviewing some of my photos and the purpose to this blog, I looked to the enticing perennials of late summer. All three show-stoppers are ruled by the astrological sign Leo, which in turn is ruled by the planetary object the Sun. This makes them Fire plants which fit with this time of year of late heat, harvests, and cooling down of the soil. They invite pollinators through their scents, landing pads and variety of colors. All are natives of the Americas and make you stop and observe them through their location, color, or structure.
Black Cohosh – Cimicifuga racemose
The Algonquin tribes of the Northeast name for cohosh means pointed, co-os means pine tree. Its blooming racemes reflect tall pines with its white blooms lighting up the shade. The seeds sound like a rattlesnake’s tail when the wind blows.
Cohosh flowers rubbed on the skin act as an insect repellent. This plant was a cornerstone for medicinal uses; rheumatism, pneumonia, or asthma. The roots created a tonic and the general plant parts are for treating snakebites. The Europeans acknowledged its properties, and it first appeared in Charles Millspaugh’s American Medicinal Plants in 1892. It remained in pharmacology books until the mid-20th centuries.
In the language of flowers, Black Cohosh leaves offer protection and destruction of negativity. Its white blooms offer peace, purity, and truth.
Sunflowers – Helianthus
This bright and multi-size plant is a native of Peru and the American Southwest. In cultivation for over 10,000 years sunflowers have provided food and oil. Its star- shape flower represents the Virgins of the Sun celebration where participates wear golden crowns, representing the sunflower.
Helianthus brighten one’s mood with its vibrant green leaves and yellow or orange blossoms. Its botanical name comes from the Greek Helia for sun and Anthus for flower. In the language of flowers, with the large seed producing heads the receiver is adored and splendid. The sender is loyal and sends best wishes. Generally, any sunflower in a bouquet means truth, fame, recognition or the granting of a wish. The Victorians put a touch of gloom to the sunflowers in that they felt it was a sign of false riches, pride or only meant for one person. Luckily, those meanings have passed.
Joe Pye Weed – Eutrochium
The Queen of the Prairie or the Queen of the Meadow, Sisters of Healing, and Gravel Root are just some of the names for this outstanding ornamental. I feel this plant creeps up on its spectacular presentation. It starts as a green plant, then at some point, only it knows, it erupts to its height and show-stopping clusters of pink to purple and vanilla scents. The seeds provide winter foraging for birds. Crushing the leaves and burning them makes a fly repellent. The flowers and seeds make a pink dye.
There are five native varieties and dwarf hybrids to embrace that fill your garden space as summer wains. Joe Pye Weed is name after a native American healer, Joseph Shauquethqueat, a Mohican chief living in Massachusetts and New York in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The botanical name Eupatorium is named after the Greek King Mithridates Eupator. The ruler of Pontus and Armenia (northern Turkey) who used it in the first century BCE for medicinal purposes.
In the language of flowers, Joe Pye Weed means delay, respect, and love.
This blog is intended for information only. Always check with your health care practitioner before working with plants for medicinal purposes.
Earth Powers, Techniques of Natural Magic. Scott Cunningham
Language of Flowers, edited by Miss Ildrewe
New Book of Herbs, Jekka McKivar
The Secret of Wildflowers, A delightful feast of little-known facts, folklore, and history. Jack Sanders