Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Plants with a story ...

Dear Mr Postman .. oh - how lovely .. we will enjoy these plant stories and the snippets of history: they remind us of how far they've travelled and why we revere them now ...

Old English Lavender, Chrysanthemum and Myrtle .. all have differing backgrounds and interesting tales to tell ....

The common English Lavender is not English at all .. but was brought to England by the Romans, who used it to perfume their bath water: hence the name lavender from the latin lavo, 'I wash' or lavare 'to wash'. Lavender water is one of the oldest English perfumes .. and its earliest mention is in the 12th century by Abbess Hildegarde, who described the strong odour and many virtues of the plant.

The Spike Lavender, a coarser, broad leaved variety, is found in the mountain districts of France and Spain; while lavender was advertised for sale in the United States in a Boston newspaper of 1760, but it is still imported to the States under the brand Mitcham Lavender. The Mitcham lavender fields are now under suburban London, remembered in London street names, such as Lavender Hill, Lavender Street, Lavender Lane and Lavender Sweep; while the Lavender fields have found wider skies in East Anglia and the garden of England: Kent. There are plenty of other varieties of lavender - dark through to white, frothy or whorls of bluish-violet .. enjoyed by peoples around the world.

The multi-petalled Chrysanthemum did not appear in Europe until the middle of the 1700s, although its history in the Far East goes back for thousands of years. It was described in China in the 5th century BC, and it became the emblem of the Emporer of the Mikado of Japan more than 1,000 years ago.

The legend of the Chrysanthemum originated in China. A girl asked a spirit how long her forthcoming marriage would last. She was told that they would remain together for as many years as there were petals on the flower she would wear on her wedding dress. She could only find a flower with 17 petals ... but with her hairpin she divided each petal into two and then again .. and she was happily married for 68 years! This was the first Chyrsanthemum .. and since then the flower has been revered in the East as a symbol of purity and long life. And from the legend .. it could also be the sign of female ingenuity!!

and now to Myrtle .. when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden they were allowed to take three things & they chose: a date to provide the best of all fruits, a grain of wheat to provide the best of all foods, and a sprig of myrtle to provide the best of all fragrances.

Since then Myrtle has been grown in England for over 400 years - it needs tender care .. and if given will reward you with deliciously-scented white flowers. The foliage is also fragrant and the tradition of carrying myrtle in the bridal wreath began in Babylonian days.

It has spread to all countries and all climates and received a Royal accolade from Queen Victoria. After her marriage to Albert in 1840, she planted a myrtle sprig from her bouquet in the grounds of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The cutting rooted and the bush flourished - the progeny from this original sprig have produced myrtles for the wedding bouquets of Queen Elizabeth II and other Royals. The planting of the myrtles from the bridal bouquet is an old country custom, but it is a job for the bridesmaid and not the bride!

Thank you Mr Postman .. those snippets were most interesting and we'll enjoy talking about the different plants and their uses .. what's on for tomorrow .. another lucky dip .. whatever you bring it's always interesting ..


Peter Baca said...


What a fasinating post about lavender! Very interesting information about the Romans involvement!

Your story about the Chinese bride really had some humor to it!

Best Regards

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Pete .. I was in a bit of a hurry this a.m. - so rather dashed it out. So I'm glad you liked it .. I rather enjoy writing them .. and am having fun ..which is what blogging is about ..

Thanks so much for dropping in .. and learning a little more lore ..

Hilary: Positive Letters

Anonymous said...

Hi Hilary

I love the photo you have on this post. Where did you find them. Great story :-)
Thank you,
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Gio .. not very clever really - just where I'm sure most of us go .. Google Images .. there are great photos there ..

Hilary: Positive Letters

Unknown said...

Hi Hilary,

It is beautiful article. Thank you for your reminding me of this post of yours. Especially lavender is my favorite flower since I visited part of Hokkaido full of lavender giving out blue and purple color and aroma.

Thank you for your sharing.
Shaw Funami
Fill the Missing Link

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shaw .. thanks for visiting and glad you enjoyed it .. particularly remembering the fields of lavender in Hokkaido .. with their haze of colour and the aroma!

Enjoy your memories ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters