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Flowers of the Month

My goal is to feature a different flower every month and provide you with information and links about that flower's folklore: the way it has been used in the past for medicine, magic and ritual. I'll also suggest ways you can interact with it today through observing it in its natural setting and growing it in your garden.

When I first proposed doing a flower-of-the-month feature for my website, I thought it would be as easy as doing research for my holiday calendar. Just get a bunch of books, cull through them, identifying the most reliable sources and distilling the information within. To my surprise, I found none of the authors of the many flower lore books I've consulted rarely provide references for their stories, so it's almost impossible to tell where a story comes from in time and place. Were they made up by a sentimental 19th century poet? Or have they been handed down by folk healers over generations as a way of preserving information about the plant's healing qualities? Who knows? If anyone knows of a reliable source for flower lore, please send it to me.

Adding to the confusion, flowers change their names all the time. How do we know if the lotuses consumed by the lotus-eaters in the Odyssey are loruses or the fruit of the jujube tree or opium poppies, as various scholars have suggested? The enormous project of classifying all plants undertaken by the Swedish botanist Linnaeus, was helpful in establishing universal Latin names for flowers, but his system is being challenged now as scientists employ the new tools of DNA testing to question the assignment of certain plants within the same genus or species. And flowers in their own lands, burst into a plethora of nicknames or common names.

Which brings me to my most important point. The flowers which grow in your locale should be the flowers on your floral calendar, not the flowers chosen by florists or poets to represent the ideal year, or the flowers I am featuring. I'm already feeling guilty about my readers in Australia who will not have dahlias blooming in August. My hope is that you will create your own floral calendar, collecting information about the flower that most captures your attention each month, and that you will add to that store of knowledge each year as you interact with the world around you. I'm already dreaming about ways to feature your floral lore at School of the Seasons (perhaps through links or an e-zine). Let me know what you would enjoy.

Chinese

Japanese

English

Australia

Canada

Irish

January

plum blossom

pine

carnation

(Summer, 2nd Mth): Hibiscus

carnation

snowdrop

February

peach blossom

plum blossom

primrose

(Summer, 3rd Mth): Pink Mimosa

violet

narcissus

March

tree peony

cherry blossom

violet

(Autumn, 1st Mth): Tibouchina

daffodil

hyacinth

April

cherry blossom

wisteria

daisy

(Autumn, 2nd Mth): Poinciana

sweet pea

tulip

May

magnolia

iris

lily of the valley

(Autumn, 3rd Mth): BottleBrush

lily of the valley

peony

June

pomegranate

peony

rose

(Winter, 1st Mth): Eucalyptus

rose

rose

July

lotus flower

mountain clover

water lily

(Winter, 2nd Mth): Wattle

larkspur

daisy

August

pear blossom

crest of hill & rising moon

gladiolus

(Winter, 3rd Mth): PaperBark

gladiolus

dahlia

September

mallow blossom

chrysanthemum

morning glory

(Spring, 1st Mth): Silky Oak Grevillea

aster

rudbeckia

October

chrysanthemum

maple

calendula

(Spring, 2nd Mth): Banksia

calendula

michalemas daisy

November

gardenia

willow

chrysanthemum

(Spring, 3rd Mth): Jacaranda

chrysanthemum

prunus

December

poppy

paulownia

poinsettia

(Summer, 1st Mth): Bauhinia (White Orchid Tree)

narcissus

hellebore

Resources:
Martin, Laura, Garden Flower Folklore, Globe-Pequot Press 1987
Canadian Florists, Flower of the Month, http://www.freshflowerscanada.com/flowers_of_the_month.htm
Irish Floral Artists, Association, http://homepage.tinet.ie/~aoifa/poem7.htm
Raymonde S. Johnson, personal communication (Australian flowers)

Home

Lotus & Water Lily

Dahlia

Rose


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