Flower Talk

Flowers have been used to communicate for centuries. Did you know that?

Perhaps as a middle-schooler, you giggled over a girl who received a rose from an admirer, or discussed the various meanings of roses – yellow stands for friendship, red was for romance, pink was for new love — at least, that is what we blushed about…

But, attributing meaning to certain flowers and plants dates at least back to medieval times (and perhaps farther! I’m not an expert, but if you count being very adept at Google searches, then, yes – you may call me an expert) –

Many flowers recognize Mary, the Mother of God – whose Assumption is celebrated by many Catholics and Orthodox believers today.

Here are some common garden flowers (and one bug!) that are named to honor Mary, as cited on the University  of Dayton ‘Mary’ page:

Marigold – was originally called “Mary’s Gold”, and braided rings were placed around statues of Mary, in lieu of coins, as an offering.

Violet – Our Lady’s Modesty – associated with humility. Perfect for the small and lowly (yet beautiful!) little violet. *Gather the blossoms of the common lawn violet, steep overnight, and enjoy a floral tea!*

Thistle – Our Lady’s Thistle – yes, even a common and prickly weed is associated with the Mother of God! Have you ever noticed the milky spots of the thistle’s leaves? Medieval believers said that they became that way when drops of milk spilled while Mary was nursing Jesus.

Lily of the Valley – Our Lady’s Tears – this flower is said to have sprung into being when Mary cried as her Son was being crucified.

Ladybugs – we might call them a gardener’s best friend, but some legends tell that they are called Lady Beetles (in Germany, their name is Marienkafer – Mary Beetle). As plagues ravaged the crops of the Middle Ages, prayers were said for Mary’s intercession. Farmers then saw these strange red and black-spotted bugs in their field, and the pests were gone. They noticed seven spots on the beetles back – for Mary’s seven sorrows – and attributed the red color to her cloak or mantle. Check it out here.



Found: The Victory of Gardening…

A Victory Garden poster - have you ever looked at these? I really love 'em. I'm going to be decorating my porch with an "old seeds" theme, and I'm going to find my favorite prints to display.

I just wrote a short post on my Wildtree Facebook page encouraging people to try growing greens, which, the more I think about it, is funny. Many/most? of us don’t grow anything we eat, have never done so, and might feel very at sea even trying. These days, gardening is a hobby – not a necessity. Some see it as progress, some see it as traditional knowledge lost – I think it could possibly be both.

I used to hold the idea in my head and heart that I could be self-sufficient. I wish I could say reason and faith told me otherwise – mostly it was frustration and failure that clued me in – its just not to be! Now, I definitely rejoice and appreciate how we were made. And how was that?

Humankind was made (especially if you take the Christian perspective into account!) to be inter-dependent regarding other humans (while fully reliant on God). “Its not good that we’re alone” – and also, not good that we completely lose touch with the Earth, created to give us sustenance, and be stewarded by us. Again, in Scripture, Christ spoke in lots of shepherding and farming metaphors – because it was a universal experience. Now, those same verses don’t quite resonate as strongly, perhaps, because few Westerners keep sheep, and farming as a career continues to shrink, and gardening isn’t something everyone does. Whether you believe in God, or not, reason alone can tell us that we can’t do everything — even the climate in which we live dictates what we can grow and when. (Ecclesiastes, anyone?)

Segue – let’s bring back the ‘victory’ of gardening – Its like celebrating Interdependence Day! (Without the fireworks. Because I say so.)

I have a full weekend of the joy of weddings and bridal showers (yay – happy times!), but here’s where I’d be hanging out if I was in town.

Friday: An open-house for the soon-to-be established Prairie Roots Food Co-op, which has been in the planning process for around 2 years.The open house is at the Bluestem Center for the Arts in S. Moorhead, and begins at 7 pm TONIGHT, Friday, April 20th.

Saturday: Free day celebrating a new display at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead!

There is a series of NEW Victory Garden posters for "our" time - do a Google search and find some. They are so cool!advertisements from that time period, and would like to learn more about this era. Was this, too, a time when the average person wasn't gardening as much, and so a 'Victory Garden' would have been a stretch for the average Jane or Joe?

“Seeds of Victory” focuses on WWII and the encouragement for all citizens to grow a garden – as a patriotic duty.  I have always been struck by the colorful Victory garden advertisements and been interested to learn more about the whys and wherefores of this time in history.

Also Saturday is a free Earth Day party at the Red River Zoo with a ton of fun activities (besides seeing the animals, of course). You just need to pick up tickets at a Gate City Bank location in the F/M area. Yay!

Have a great weekend, all.