Human emotions always ebb and flow in a seesaw pattern – sometimes we are ecstatically happy, and sometimes we are drooping like withered blossoms. Well, most other times, life’s a pale shade of grey – more of sniffles than sobs or smiles. And one of the best ways to cheer up a gloomy mood, or a depressing situation is to surround oneself with beauty-fresh, natural beauty.
The laurel is one of the easiest, and most tolerant evergreen shrubs, which will brighten any dim dark corner of your room by its happy presence. The spotted laurel, alias the ‘Gold dust’ is scientifically termed ‘Aucuba japonica’ – and this is a female plant, unlike some other varieties of laurel. If a male plant is nearby such as ‘Lance Leaf’ or ‘Crassifolia’ often the small spring flowers of the Gold dust – flowers of a reddish – purple tinge, will transform into persistent and glowing red berries. The laurel has a great number of forms –the ground laurel is a symbol of perseverance, the ability to sustain odds, overcome obstacles, and emerge a winner.
The mountain Laurel is usually associated with high ambition, which motivates a person to reach outwards and upwards in life. However, in general terms, the present of a laurel is not a very happy sign –for other forms of laurel, That is, a general laurel flower indicates perfidious behaviours as well as treachery. Thus, next time someone gifts you a laurel, its more a censure than a compliment!
Larkspur is known for its tall spikes of blue, lavender, purple, pink or white flowers. It is a members of the Delphinium family.
The genus name “Delphinium” comes from the Greek word “delphis,” which means “dolphin.” To the Greeks the flowers of larkspur, resembled the shape of a dolphin.
The Annual Delphinium is one of the best known annuals, bearing long racemes of lovely coloured flowers and lacy foliage.
The genus of larkspur was recently changed from Delphinium to Consolida . Two species of larkspur are used for cut flowers: Consolida ambigua and Consolida orientalis. C. orientalis is more upright than C. ambigua , and colours are often shades of bright pink and purple. C. ambigua have more branches initially and colours are usually light pink or blue.
In Greek mythology larkspur flowers are said to have sprang from the blood of Ajax, who committed suicide after not being given the armor of the fallen warrior Achilles. It was once used to heal wounds in the field, to kill parasites, which prey especially on those living under difficult conditions. Another name for it is “knight’s spur.” larkspur is also said to keep away scorpions and venomous snakes as well as more ethereal threats, like ghosts.
Larkspur is the birth flower for the month of July. It is nice mixed with other Summer Solstice herbs such as lavender, cinquefoil, mugwort, roses, elder, fennel, vervain and hemp in pot pourri or incense.
Lily is the common name for the Liliaceae, a plant family numbering several species, widely distributed over the earth and particularly abundant in warm temperate and tropical regions.
In Christian symbolism, the lily represents purity, chastity and innocence. As the flower of the Resurrection and of the Virgin it is widely used at Easter. The lily of the Bible (Cant. 2.1) has been variously identified with the scarlet anemone, Madonna lily, and other plants; the “lilies of the field” (Mat. 6.28) probably means any wildflowers, perhaps the iris. In fact, the Convalleria variety- also known as ‘lily of the valley’, with two long oval leaves and spikes of white bell-shaped flowers represents the Tears of the Virgin Mary, a resurgence of happiness. White lily bouquets are especially popular in Christian homes, during the Easter holiday, for they symbolize Christ’s resurrection.
Many species are cultivated as ornamentals since the blossoms are showy and colourful. While lilies come in a variety of colours, most people associate lilies with white, symbolizing purity. The ‘Lily of the Nile’ or African Lily denotes secret love discreet rendezvous and love letters. Yellow Lilies express gratitude and fun. At times, coquetry, even flirtatious behaviour is suggested through the gift of a lily, especially the Oriental and Eucharis variety.
Interestingly, ‘lily’ has even entered our language as a novel-term- ‘lily- livered’ suggests white –livered, and therefore cowardice.
Lilies are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, and order Liliales, family Liliaceae.
According to Hindu mythological tale, when the reverent Lord Ram prayed before the goddess to bestow upon him her divine blessing, she had imposed a condition upon her devotee-that he should worship her with no less than one hundred and eight lotus flowers (one hundred and eight is an auspicious number in the Hindu-mythology).
However, Lord Ram after much effort and search, could come up with only one less than the number desired at such a critical moment, he recalled that his beautiful eyes were often called ‘lotus-eyes’ (as beautiful as a lotus). The true devotee therefore, unhesitatingly took out his dagger and was just about to plunge it into his eye-socket to offer his eye instead of the missing lotus – when the goddess appeared and told him that the entire task had been a hard way of testing the depth of his devotion and prayer.
The lotus is so highly venerated as a plant that it appears symbolically in architecture, paintings, and held by Egyptian mummies. The Egyptians themselves grew three species of lotus-one blue – flower, one white and one red.
In the Greek legends and tales, the lotus-flower is sacred and venerated. It is a symbol of beauty. Again, in the Hindu tradition, as stated before, many a legend revolves around the presence of the lotus. A golden lotus bears the god Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
The lotus is used as a symbol for the Buddhists since many depictions of Lord Buddha include a lotus situated either near or under him, and is therefore intimately associated with Buddha both in India and in China. It is the emblem of paradise; it is sign of the heavenly abode in Japan. In fact, in its different incarnations, it represents the spirituality of a large area of the world.
In precise scientific terms, the lotus is an Egyptian or Indian water lily of various species of Nymphaea and the Nelumbium. Interesting stories are connected with this flower, apart from its varied religious associations. The lotusis often regarded in literature as the plant, (possibly the jujube) in North Africa, whose fruit induced in the eater a state of blissful indolence and forgetfulness. These eaters, or as they were termed, the lotus – eaters find mention in Jennyson’s poem ‘the Lotus – Eaters’. Burning the wide and adventurous journey undertaken by the Greek hero Ulysses while returning back to his kingdom in Ithaca, he had encountered this strange land and race of the Lotus- Eaters, for whom the Epicurean philosophy of ‘Eat, drink and be merry’ was the mantra for their existence.
However, the language of flowers, as tokens indicating a special feeling or emotion- well, according to this flower- symbolism, the lotus stands as a sign of estranged love –lovers who have parted, either due to hostile circumstances or due to internal friction.
The plant scientifically called Nigella damascena is a charming, easy-to-grow perennial with feathery foliage and beautiful flowers of different shades-white, rose, dark blue or blue or pale blue surrounded by a cluster of fibrous bracts. In fact, the seedpods of this plant are often dried for use by flower arrangers. Charming, but nothing special, one would say!
But hold on, this flower has an interesting connotation – possible due to its appearance, rather obtrusively hidden among its foliage; this flower is also called love-in-a-mist! In fact, where flowers are often used to communicate feelings of attraction, affection or love, this flower- ‘love-in-a-mist’ signifies perplexity and confusion. It is also called fennel-flower, as are other plants of the genus and devil-in-the-bush.
‘Love-in-a-mist’ is dedicated to the Christian saint, St. Catherine and is offered to the saint on the 25th of November.
Love-in-a-mist is classified in the division Magnoliophyta of the class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales, and family Ranunculaceae.