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Language of Flowers

Last year I watched Hamlet in the theater for the first time and loved it - I actually ended up watching it twice! Andrew Scott was unbelievable. I have never been so mesmerized by an actor! There is a scene in the play after Hamlet has killed Polonius and his daughter Ophelia is distraught at the funeral. She brings flowers and hands a different flower to each character. Each flower she gives has a meaning: Rosemary for remembrance, Pansies for thoughts, Fennel for frailty and flattery etc.. I found this so interesting! Since then I've looked further into the 'Language of Flowers' and it's really amazing how symbolic flowers are. I have finally started to work on a botanical series of illustrations, detailing each flowers symbolism, which I will continue adding to.

Interest in the symbolism of plants became very popular in Victorian England as a way of communicating through the use of flowers. Flowers have been symbolic for thousands of years with different meanings being given in different regions of the world. The 'Language of Flowers' can be traced throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

During the 19th century in the US and England, people gave gifts of specific plants and blooms that were sent as cryptic messages, to express their feelings in secret. They would even send tussie-mussies (small talking bouquets like corsages) which would be worn as fashion accessories that held a special message for the recipient.

The first flower I have illustrated is a bunch of Daffodils - symbolic of new beginnings.

Scientific Name: Narciddus

Family: Amaryligaceae

Higher Classification: Narcisseae

Order: Asparagales

Kingdom: Plantae

Common Names: Daffodil, Daffadowndilly, Narcissus and Jonquil.

Symbolism: Rebirth and new beginnings (synonymous with Spring). The daffodil is the 10th wedding anniversary flower as well as the March birth flower. Giving a bunch of daffodils to someone is said to ensure happiness, however diving a single daffodil can foretell misfortune.

Around the World: In Wales the daffodil is a lucky emblem and if you spot the first daffodil of the season it is a sign of prosperity and wealth throughout the coming year.

In China there is a legend that if a daffodil bulb is forced to bloom during the New Year (Chinese Spring Festival), it will bring good luck to your home.

Taken from: 100 Plants that almost changed the World by Chris Beardshaw:

The eternal harbinger of spring immortalised in William Wordsworth's poetry, the Daffodil possesses a charm and character that warms the heart on the most boisterous of spring days. The history is less optimistic in outlook. The Daffodil, or Narcissus, is named after Narkissos, a beautiful youth from Greek mythology who, on seeing his own reflection in a pool, became mesmerised by its beauty. Besotted with himself he eventually died numb with sleep and was turned into the Daffodil.

Its introduction to northern Europe was no less dramatic. According to folklore a Crusader impressed by the diversity and beauty of the plants during his religious travels in southern Europe and the Middle East, dispatched some bulbs to his sweetheart. On his return, the bulbs were presented at a feast organised for the lovers. Unfortunately for the intrepid Crusader his lover lacked culinary skills and mistook the Daffodil bulbs for Onions. They both died of alkaloid poisoning, specifically lycorine. Mammals are wiser and don't graze daffodils.

You can follow this series of illustrations here.

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