Who does not like flowers? Whether it be a beautiful bouquet, a stunning garden display or a springtime collection of wild flowers along the roadside – there cannot be many of us who do not appreciate their variety and beauty.
We use flowers for so many occasions – a wedding bouquet, a funeral wreath, a get well wish for a sick loved one. When we are lost for words, flowers speak for us. They bring beauty to our environment and can be objects of romance, ritual, religion, medicine and even a source of food. The book ‘The Language of Flowers’ contains a dictionary of over 700 flowers and plants with their meanings. Although symbols or emblems of flowers can be traced back to ancient times, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the language of flowers appeared in the Western world. The origins are unclear but may have come from Turkey where flowers were used by the harem ladies to send secret messages to their lovers!
When we think of flowers we often think of those plants that grow in soil low to the ground. As the flower is actually the reproductive structure of a plant, we find flowers everywhere from the tallest of trees, like the Eucalyptus which can grow to over 300 feet tall, to the aquatic plants which grow only in water and the tiny flowers on mosses.
We also think of gorgeous scents. My favourites are wild honeysuckle, gorse flowers and old-fashioned scented roses. But not all flower scents are appealing to humans – a number of plants are pollinated by insects attracted to the smell of rotting flesh and have flowers that smell like dead animals! Thankfully I don’t have any of these in my garden…
Talking of gardens – I like to think of mine as a ‘natural’ garden. I am not a gardener but I do love to see beautiful flowers. I don’t mind pulling out weeds – but what is a weed if not a wild flower that’s just in the wrong place? So, in my garden you will find a variety of wild flowers alongside those garden plants I inherited when I moved into my property. Any wild plant that finds its way into my garden and produces a lovely flower is welcome to stay.
It is estimated that there are 400,000 types of flowering plants in the world and here in the UK there are 1600 species of wild flower. I wonder how many you can name…?
Contributed by Chris