Monthly Archives: June 2018

  • Why Are Bouquets of Roses So Romantic? The History of The Classic Red Rose

    summer flowers

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…

    These words, penned by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet, are just one of the countless mentions of roses in poetry, literature, and art that ties the iconic red flower to romance and love.

    Why, after hundreds of years, are bouquets of roses still the most classic and enduring symbol of romance?

    Red Roses in Ancient History

    summer flowers

    Based on fossil evidence, the rose itself has existed for over 35 million years. The connotations of romance were almost immediately adopted once humans started crafting culture and art.

    Aphrodite & Roses: The Creation Myth

    In Western culture, the significance of the red rose dates back to Greek mythology and the belief that the red rose was created by Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Legend has it that the flower grew from the ground watered with Aphrodite’s tears and the blood of her ill-fated lover Adonis.

    However, there is another interpretation of this Greek myth. According to some Greek historians, Cupid accidentally shot arrows into a rose garden after being stung by a bee, causing the flowers to grow thorns. Later, as Aphrodite walked through the garden, she pricked her foot on a thorn and bled, the color of her blood turning the roses red.

    Desire & Secrecy: How Romans Used Roses

    The legend of the red rose’s creation continued into Roman mythology where Venus took the place of Aphrodite. Wealthy Romans reportedly filled their bedchambers with bouquets of roses to provide a soft, pleasant-smelling surface for their amorous encounters. It was a symbol of love and beauty associated with the goddess, but also came to stand for secrecy after Cupid offered a rose to the God of Silence to keep quiet Venus’s affairs.

    In fact, Roman dining room ceilings were decorated with roses to urge guests to keep quiet about what was said at dinner, and “sub rosa” or “under the rose” still means “confidentially” today.

    Faith & Love: The Rose as The Virgin

    In Christianity, the red rose became the symbol of the Virgin Mary dating back to the third century AD. At that time, Saint Ambrose believed the Garden of Eden was full of thornless roses, which gained their thorns after the fall and symbolized Original Sin. Because of this, the Virgin Mary is often referred to as the “rose without thorns.”

    The image of the rose and with the Virgin Mary took off in the twelfth century when Gothic cathedrals became prominent and large, circular stained glass windows, known as rose windows, were placed  above the entrance to the church. This was furthered in the thirteenth century when Saint Dominic created the notion of the rosary, a series of prayers to the Virgin Mary -- rosaries get their name from the word rose and are symbolized in religious imagery by garlands of roses. Today this endures with the concept of the “miracle of the roses,” which is a mystical event where the growth of roses in an area reflects an act of God.

    Red Roses in the Eastern World

    summer flowers

    We owe the tradition of growing roses in a garden to the East. Garden cultivation of roses dates back to China about 5,000 years ago. However, there are also many Eastern cultural beliefs and legends that tie the rose back to romance. Hindu beliefs dating back centuries hold that Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of fortune and prosperity and wife of Lord Vishnu, was created from 108 large and 1,008 small rose petals. Vishnu intensely loved his wife, creating a firm link between roses and romance.

    An ancient Arabic legend also links roses to romance and the literal effect of one’s heart’s blood. The legend states that a nightingale fell in love with a white rose. The love was so intense that it caused the nightingale to sing for the first time and overwhelmed by his love, the nightingale pressed itself to the rose, a thorn piercing its heart and turning the flower red with its blood. The nightingale pined for the rose so badly, it sacrificed its life, creating an enduring link between one’s heart’s blood and intense feelings of love and romance. These legends are extremely ancient, dating back to some of the most ancient civilizations, thus tying the rose to romance from the earliest days of humanity.

    Red Roses in Modern Society

    summer flowers

    With all of these legends and myths in mind, bouquets of roses went on down the centuries to symbolize romance, appearing in everything from medieval frescoes to Shakespeare and more.

    In the middle ages, it pop ups in the French poem “Romance of the Rose,” where the rose is used to symbolize female sexuality while serving as wider metaphor for expounding on “the whole art of love.” The poem is a lengthy allegory of chivalric love with 92 accompanying illustrated miniatures. It was composed in France in the 13th century by Guillaume de Lorris and later turned into an illuminated manuscript in the 15th century. The first part of the poem chronicles the Lover’s quest for the “rose,” a symbol for the love of his lady.

    This use of rose as metaphor for love and romance continued into the Renaissance, most notably in the works of Shakespeare. Though its reference in Romeo and Juliet is Shakespeare’s best known nod to the beautiful flower, he uses the rose in his writing regularly as a metaphor for romance beauty -- it pops up in everything from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Antony and Cleopatra to his sonnets.

    The Scottish poet Robert Burns immortalized the rose as a symbol of romance in 18th century poem “Red, Red Rose,” which compares his love to a red rose. “O, my love is like a red, red rose” begins the poem. Later, the poem says he will love her still when the seas go dry and the sands of life run still, thus likening his intense feelings of enduring love to the metaphor of the rose.

    Beginning in the 1800s, Victorians established the enduring link between romance and red roses as we think of it today. The Victorians were obsessed with the language of flowers, or floriography, developing distinct meanings for every shade of flower imaginable and using this language to send flowers to friends, lovers, and more. It is this tradition that reaffirmed the red rose as a symbol of romance. Professing feelings publicly was not considered acceptable at the time, so the language of flowers and the gifting of a red rose was a subtle way to express affection in this more restricted era. In the Victorian era, individuals regularly gifted flowers, particularly different colored roses, as symbols of sympathy, eternal friendship, and more.

    summer flowers

    The significance of the rose as a symbol of romance, and its use as a messaging system in courtship and dating has endured since the 19th century. Throughout the 20th century, sending roses has been a timeless way to express love for another. We have seen it endure in popular culture, with a single red rose (either long-stemmed or a boutonniere) being the prize that allows a contestant on The Bachelor(ette) to continue in the quest to win the heart of a lucky lady or man. The rose also symbolizes romance in Beauty and the Beast, with a single rose shedding petals until the Beast can learn to love another and be loved in return.

    Whether it be a single red rose given on a date or an entire bouquet of roses sent for Valentine’s Day, there’s still no simpler way to convey romance than through bouquets of roses. A tradition that dates back to ancient times, proving that when it comes down to it, romance and love are some of our oldest, most prized experiences.

  • Everything Chrysanthemum! Meaning, History, Care, and Gardening Tips

    Chrysanthemum! Meaning

    Popular in both gardens and bouquets, chrysanthemums have something to offer everyone! Also called “mums,” there are two flower families associated with them—Chrysanthemum and Dendranthema. Chrysanthemum flowers are very closely related to daisies and asters, and can bloom from spring to fall, depending on how they are planted. Plus, they attract butterflies.

    Would you like to know more about these ornate and decorative flowers? Read on for some chrysanthemum meanings, facts, and trivia!

    Meet the ‘Mum!

    The chrysanthemum can grow from 1 to 3 feet in height as well as width, and can be either annual (planted yearly) or perennial (planted once to grow back year after year) depending on how you choose to plant them. They can serve as the centerpiece of your garden or line the edge of it with glorious color and a variety of shapes. There are over ten different classes of flower shapes to the chrysanthemum, including:

    • Regular incurve, with petals that curve up toward the center uniformly,
    • Irregular incurve, with petals that curve up each in different ways,
    • Pompon, which points straight out from the center,
    • Single and semi-double, which look a lot like their cousin the daisy, and
    • Quill, which features tube-like petals that fall outward from the center.

    Flower Royalty

    Chrysanthemums were cultivated in China starting around the 15th century BCE, and have been growing there for about 2,500 years. They were used in a lot of herbal medicines, and their regal beauty quickly became associated with nobility and royalty. Across the sea in Japan, the flower became associated with the sun, making it part of the royal throne and the Imperial Seal when it was brought by migrating Buddhist monks. Even its name, chrysanthemum, is Greek for “gold flower” (chrysos = gold and anthos = flower), indicating the importance they carry in Western culture as well.

    Chrysanthemum! Meaning

    Symbols and Meanings

    Flowers have long been associated with spiritual and even secular symbolism, and the chrysanthemum has been an important part of this language for centuries. Aside from its associations with royalty, the flower has been used to honor the dead and comfort the bereaved. It has also been used to symbolize loyalty and friendship in the Victorian language of flowers. Today, it is commonly given to mothers on Mother’s Day. It is the official birth flower of the month of November, and is thus associated with the Zodiac sign Scorpio. Because of its many layers, it is also associated with the emotional heart chakra.

    A Rainbow of Mums

    The color of the flower might also affect its meaning, and chrysanthemums come in almost every color imaginable—even  blue. Since they have been cultivated for so long, many hybrids have emerged, offering gardeners and florists a rich array of reds, pinks, yellows, purples, and oranges to choose from. From the Highland Pink Sheffield to the Jasper to the Peach Centerpiece or the deep red Bravo, chrysanthemums offer a hue perfect for any centerpiece, bouquet, or garden theme.

    Potted ‘Mums

    Since chrysanthemums are often given as potted plants for Mother’s Day gifts, may of them start their lives as indoor plants. Caring for them is a simple matter of providing loose soil and plenty of light in a cool, dry place. Since they bloom mostly in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall, it is best to maintain that temperature for them if you don’t plan on planting them outdoors. They can survive the summer and even the frost in a garden, so if getting them into your flowerbed is the plan, keeping them comfortable while in the pot is a huge step in the right direction.

    Chrysanthemum! Meaning

    Planting Your Mums

    Chrysanthemums can be planted from seed or from cuttings, as well as transplanted from pots. If you plan on planting them as perennials, it is a good idea to plant them in early spring after the ground is thawed. This gives them the whole summer and fall to extend roots far into the ground for overwintering, raising their chance of survival during the winter. Otherwise they are commonly planted as budding occurs toward the fall, since that is when they bloom. Whether you plant them for annual or perennial blooming also affects how deep you plant them, since chrysanthemums have shallow roots. The root system also affects what kind of soil they can bear—loose soil that drains quickly and easily is what they thrive in, and if the root tips are sitting in water, they will eventually rot. The plants need full sun, too, so make sure you plant them in a spot where they will get plenty.

    Pruning Chrysanthemums

    The plants grow to be up to 3 feet high, but they bud best when they are kept pruned to about 15-20 inches, depending on the type. This is especially true for potted chrysanthemums and annuals, which can provide bursts of flower twice in the year if pruned properly. Pruning also affects the size and number of flowers: the more flowers, the smaller they will be, but having larger flowers means having fewer of them. To have more flowers, prune or pinch off the tips of the plant, and for larger flowers, remove some of the buds.

    Feeding and Protecting Chrysanthemums

    Annual chrysanthemums don’t really need to be fed, but perennials need it about once a month, preferably with a liquid fertilizer. They actually need this more than moisture, as it promotes their growth and heightens the likelihood that they will survive the frosts of winter. Natural predators include earwigs, aphids, and caterpillars, and these are easily controlled as with mild pesticides. Chrysanthemums are fairly hardy plants and are not susceptible to many scourge diseases, either. They might attract mildew or fungus, but managing these is simply a matter of pulling off affected leaves before the problem can spread all over the plant.

    Chrysanthemum! Meaning

    Keeping Perennials Warm in Winter

    Frost is killer to chrysanthemums, and overwintering them can be a challenge. It is actually a good idea to winter them indoors and maintain the soil and temperature they like best. Other ways to protect your mums in the garden include adding extra mulch or organic matter for the duration of the season to prevent frost. It actually takes a lot of sustained cold to cause the ground to freeze, so more southerly climates can have a lot of success with this method, while northerly climates will find overwintering a bit more difficult without an indoor option.

    Bouquets and Decorations

    Chrysanthemums can make beautiful bouquets, adorning vases and arrangements with ease if cared for properly. Cutting the stems on a slant every few days can help the flowers stay looking fresh for up to three weeks, especially if you pull off the leaves. Pair them with dahlias, daisies, and sprays of berries or leaves for some gorgeous fall arrangements. With so many colors and classes of chrysanthemums to choose from, you can even pair them with each other!

    Chrysanthemum! Meaning

    Autumn Mum in Basket

    Chrysanthemums have been capturing people’s hearts for thousands of years, and with all the beauty they share with the world, it is no wonder. With everything you’ve just learned about these regal blooms, you can try your hand at growing some of your own. They have a reputation for being difficult, but as you’ve just learned, all it takes is a little maintenance to make chrysanthemums a colorful and attractive part of your home and garden!

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Flowers to get you out of the doghouse

Dried Flower Wreaths

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