31 Mar 2011


‘Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.’
Gerard de Nerval

A gerbera is like a daisy with extra fittings: bigger, bolder and in a range of festive colours. It is no wonder they are one of the 10 most popular flowers in the world. Gerberas add cheer to any room they are in, so they are the perfect gift to put a smile on someone’s face. They are also a compliment to beauty and strength. The white flowers also represent purity. Yellow flowers are for suitors who have been lazy in their wooing, promising that ‘I’ll try harder to win you.’ Orange gerberas, which do not look far off from that warm, glowing orb in the sky, declare ‘You’re the sunshine of my life.’ Red flowers symbolise unconsciousness in love—from someone who is woken up to the stirrings of their heart? And with their fringe of proud petals giving them a distinctly leonine appearance, it is no surprise that gerberas are linked to the zodiac sign, Leo.

*     Beautiful
*     Cheerful
*     Innocent
*     Leo
*     Pure (White)
*     Strong
*     Truth
*     Unconscious in love (Red)
*     ‘I’ll try harder to win you.’ (Yellow)
*     ‘You’re the sunshine of my life.’ (Orange)

Origin: South Africa.

Season: Naturally summer, but available year-round.

Colour: Although gerberas can sport the modest white garb of its miniature look-alike, the daisy, they are more popular in bright colours like pink, orange, red and yellow.

Author: Alethea Dean

30 Mar 2011


For Peony, my Peony, Hath strength to make me whole,
She gives her heart of beauty... For the healing of my soul.
  Bliss Carman, Peony

The peony has enjoyed a long and illustrious reputation in China as the king of flowers. As a symbol of utmost beauty (particularly of the feminine sort), affection, an omen for luck and the emblem of the royal family itself, the peony was for centuries an inspiration for poets and artists across the empire, a trend that was enthusiastically taken up across the sea in Japan. The white flowers were traditionally linked to girls who were as witty as they were beautiful. In the western hemisphere, the peony is known as a bringer of good health, and is in fact named after Paeon, a Greek deity of healing. Indeed, the peony was a popular ingredient in traditional medicine. It is a particularly good gift for women in childbirth as the seeds were once used to ease their labour pains and the flower carries the wish of a happy life for the newborn baby. In a bride’s bouquet, it symbolises a long and happy marriage—a blessing that can be renewed when given on the couple’s 12th anniversary. Peonies are also the flowers of wealth and prosperity. Although its luxurious bloom of petals might seem to betoken a confident personality, it is in fact more fitting for bashful souls or coy (rather than brazen) flirts. After an argument with a friend or partner, what lovelier way to beg forgiveness and acknowledge your shame than with a gorgeous bunch of peonies?

*     Affection
*     Bashful
*     Coy
*     Good health or healing
*     Good luck
*     Happy life
*     Happy marriage
*     Most beautiful
*     Prosperous
*     Shame
*     Witty as well as beautiful (White)
*     ‘Happy 12th anniversary!’
*     ‘I beg your forgiveness.’

Origin: Asia, southern Europe, western North America.

Season: Peonies bloom in late spring and early summer. In China, they are symbols of spring while in Japan they are the official flower of June. However, they can be bought year-round.

Colour: Peonies range from all shades of red (including pink) to white and yellow. 

Author: Alethea Dean

29 Mar 2011

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not...

‘Daisy, Daisy,
Give me your answer do,
I’m half crazy,
All for the love of you…’ 
Harry Dacre, Daisy Bell

With its yellow button-like face and dainty white petals, the friendly daisy is one of the most easily recognisable and popular flowers around. The name was originally ‘day’s eye’, because the flowers close up completely during the night, only unfurling to greet the return of sunlight. A sturdy plant, the daisy can sometimes be a pest for gardeners who like their lawns pristine and immaculate, but there are plenty of people who appreciate the daisy’s simple beauty, including children who for centuries have strung them into daisy chain crowns, necklaces and bracelets. Almost every girl in the world has played the ‘He loves me, he loves me not’ game on the petals of a daisy. It is no surprise that this unpretentious flower is a symbol for purity, innocence and gentleness. Its robustness has leant to its associations with loyal love and discretion, a way to tell a secret lover that you will ‘never tell’. Daisies are the perfect gift for a 5th wedding anniversary.

*     Discretion
*     Gentle
*     Innocent (White)
*     Joyful (Red)
*     Loyal love
*     Pure
*     Truth (White)
*     ‘Happy 5th anniversary!’
*     ‘I’ll never tell.’
*     ‘I’ll try hard to earn your love.’ (Yellow)

Origin: Daisies crop up all over the world, but the common daisy we all know and love is also known as the English daisy (though it can be found in other parts of Europe and western Asia too).
Season: They blossom naturally in the summer but are available all year round.
Colour: The white petals are one of the distinguishing features of daisies. Colourful daisy-like flowers include the aster (or Michaelmas daisy) and gerbera.

Author: Alethea Dean

24 Mar 2011

Housewarmings, Office Openings & Removals

 ‘Home is home, though it be never so homely.
John Clarke, Paroemiologia

A change of premises, whether residential or business related, is always a major upheaval and highly stressful for all concerned, and a gift of flowers not only wishes the recipient happiness in their new abode, it also brightens up the space and adds a pleasant natural perfume to give a homey feel. 

You may want to compliment the elegance and good taste of the new appointments, in which case chrysanthemums and dahlias are the flowers to bring along to the housewarming party.
Alternatively, bring along anthuriums to thank the host for their hospitality and wish them success with future guests. Add a splash of cheerfulness with gerberas, yellow carnations, jasmine or, again, with chrysanthemums. Nothing brings sunshine and warmth into the room like a few sunflowers. 

A new home or office is a new beginning, which can be celebrated with a bunch of narcissi. Promote a sense of well-being and harmony in the space with delphiniums. If the new homeowner or office head honcho is a superstitious sort, give them peace of mind by sending violets and lilies of the valley as a charm against evil and protection from evil spirits.

Flowers and plants for housewarmings, office openings and removals

Charm against evil
Chrysanthemum; Gerbera; Jasmine; Yellow carnation
Chrysanthemum; Dahlia; Jasmine
Good taste
Red and yellow roses mixed
New beginning
Protection from evil spirits
Lilies of the valley

Author: Alethea Dean

23 Mar 2011

Get Well Soon

A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of all human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.’
Hippocrates, Regimen in Health

A friend in need is a friend indeed. They are also friends that could do with a bit of cheering up via a bunch of flowers in the sickroom (unless the patients are allergic!). Yellow carnations are perfect for adding that bit of cheeriness, as are fragrant jasmine, jolly gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums, especially if the patient is an elderly person.

Chrysanthemums can also encourage the much needed rest they may need to recuperate, a message that could be bolstered by the calming influence of freesias, which additionally warn them to be more careful about their health. You can also advise more watchfulness with violets. Bestow strength through gladioli and well-being through delphinium. The invalid will need power and nourishment to speed up their recovery, so give them sunflowers for both.

Give them courage to get through their convalescence with a red rose, or with irises to support them while they burn through their difficulties. Peonies represent good health and healing, and so are the ideal flowers for poorly friends. Hyacinths can tell them that you will be praying for them to get better. But be wary in your choice of get-well flowers as some cultures link red and white flowers with ‘blood and bones’, so this combination is taboo for the sickroom.

Flowers and plants to say ‘Get well soon’

Burning through adversity
Chrysanthemum (esp. elderly); Gerbera; Jasmine; Yellow carnation
Red rose
Good health and healing
‘I’ll pray for you.’

Author: Alethea Dean