Can I tell you how exciting this is? It’s an incredible feeling and beyond exhilarating! And, a little scary too! I don’t have much more to say. Just cannot even believe I’m looking at my book cover!
Can I tell you how exciting this is? It’s an incredible feeling and beyond exhilarating! And, a little scary too! I don’t have much more to say. Just cannot even believe I’m looking at my book cover!
There is so much to learn when it comes to the use of flowers and plants throughout history. Not only the language and symbolism of plants and flowers, but also the medicinal and culinary uses of virtually every plant you can think of. Artemisia absinthium is one of those notorious plants that have been associated with everything from witchcraft to divine healing and everything between. In the language of flowers, Artemisia absinthium, also known as Wormwood or Absinthe, have several meanings;
absence, not to be discouraged, affection, bitterness, comfort, protection for travelers
Now, let’s break down these meanings –I love doing this, it’s amusing!
absence; yes, after consuming ‘the green fairy’ drink of Absinthe, you will become absent (from your mind?) and/or according to La Fontaine (the French poet and man of letters), absinthe is the worst of all evils. Therefore, artemisia was chosen to be an emblem of absence.
not to be discouraged; I’m not sure about this one, but perhaps eludes to the fact you’re super happy when you’re sipping absinthe
affection; you could become very affectionate toward others, again, after it’s consumption
bitterness; it’s a very bitter drink, as no sugar is added, which makes it not a liqueur, but a spirit. Wormwood is the bitterest herb known and it’s symbolic association is with ~bitterness of spirit
comfort; it’s a body-warmer. The alcohol content in Absinthe is 45-74% (!!)
protection for travelers; wormwood has long been considered protection from disease for travelers. A recent article from World Health Organization recommends artemisia in low-doses as protection from malaria. Artemisia is now cultivated in east Africa as a low cost and effective alternate to other costly pharmaceuticals for prevention of malaria
An 18th century French physician living in Switzerland created the plant-based all-purpose remedy. But absinthe as a casual drink soon caught on with distilleries in Switzerland and France. The three ingredients in absinthe are wormwood, licorice-flavored green anise and sweet fennel. Wormwood has a compound in it called thujone, which in high quantities can make one convulse and have a heart attack, but there’s only small trace amounts of it in absinthe, therefore it’s considered relatively safe. But, this is the reason absinthe, at one point, was banned all over Europe and U.S. Still today, absinthe is still a drink that strikes fear into the heart of many a spirit lover. During the days of La Belle Epoque, absinthe acquired a reputation as the mind altering choice of drink for Van Gogh, Zola, Rimbaud, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec and a host of other bohemian artists and writers in Paris.
Absinthe isn’t for the faint of heart, but in moderation it can be enjoyed just like any other spirit. Traditionally, it’s served à la Parisienne — an elaborate ritual centered around an absinthe fountain, which is an ornate jar with spigots, resting on stand. From this, ice-cold water is dripped through a sugar lump perched on a slotted spoon lying on the rim of a glass of absinthe. The moment the water is added the spirit turns cloudy.
Absinthe is enjoying a renaissance with many small, family-run distilleries blending their botanicals in the traditional absinthe heartlands of Switzerland and France.
This is my first entry on the blog where I’m going to write about writing. A lot of you may know (Ha!) that I’ve been in the book-writing process for quite some time now. Boy, what a process. It’s a beautiful process too! What started back in 2014 as an idea has finally come to fruition, and is at the home stretch as I write this today. What a feeling, indescribable really, to see a vision in your head slowly unfold to a beautiful book! I thought it would be a good idea to write about the process of book-writing, because I’ve learned so much from it–about myself, my business, my principles, my family, friends and all these relationships, and especially the language of flowers! I want to share this experience with you, and I hope there will be a piece of it along the way that moves you, means something to you, maybe it sparks an idea, or an inspiration. I don’t know, but I hope it fulfills something in you. I have taken a lot of notes & photos through this adventure, and I’ll continue to do so. I can’t hold all that stuff in my head! I’m a ‘take a note’ freak. Thanks for joining me, please give me some feedback in the comments! Enjoy~
This morning I am waiting to hear back from my editor on the copy-edits. This is after two rounds of editorial comments after submitting my manuscript on June 1. And today I have just submitted my final copy of the New Language of Flowers Dictionary. And I am giddy with excitement over this part of the book, yet at the same time scared to death that I’ve made an error, left out an important flower, or both. I’ve decided I’m not going to be able to shake that feeling, ever. I’ll just have to live with it and let it be–it is what it is and I’ve done my best with it. Research, research, and more research. Countless hours of reading about flowers, their mythological traits, symbolism, garden habits, botanical attributes, genus’, etc. I know the Language of flowers will never be done, and I state that in my book with an explanation as to why. And I have added 48 new flowers into this modern dictionary and I feel awesome about this! It is a comprehensive reference, and my hope it will viewed and coveted as one of the best.
When I sat down to start writing the book last fall, I found it pretty easy to let all my thoughts flow. But once I got the layout of the book figured out and starting placing some real writing into it, I froze up a little bit. I found myself stumped for the first time in my life while writing.
But I’ve never written a book, and it was starting to weigh in my thoughts and found myself thinking ‘what on earth am I doing?’ I’m not the expert horticulturist, or writer, and especially don’t own the language of flowers! I fished around for some tips and articles about my frozen brain and stumbled upon a writing workshop happening locally, and it was happening within the week, so I jumped on board.
So the next week I attended a creative writing retreat instructed by Patrice Vecchione. The workshop took place at the UCSC Arboretum & Botanic Garden, which of course, provided an incredible amount of inspiration.
The simple idea behind this workshop, learning to write creatively—or, tapping into your creative mind proved to be a challenge for me for the first half of the day. I felt a little intimidated by some of the other attendees, who had already participated at some level in Patrice’s writing workshops and retreats. But, the 2nd half of the day, things started to flow. I loosened up and found all kinds of words to put on paper. We wrote about a lot of things. We were given excerpts from great writing pieces by incredible writers, and was told to ‘elaborate’ on their piece. Basically we analyzed what the writing meant to us. That was incredibly helpful and taught me to be authentic in my writing. I learned SO much in this retreat, not just about writing, but about a lot of deep-souling things too. How to really find yourself and how you feel when you’re writing about something or someone. The most important piece that I brought home with me was to ”Tell your truth ~ Tell your story”. Now, I know this all sounds a little overboard in preparation in writing a book such as mine–which is a how-to, inspiration, and reference book. But it worked! I think back to when I first sat down to write my book and all of a sudden everything stopped coming out of my head. I was extremely critical of each and every sentence I wrote. But I learned from this workshop to just let it all flow out. Don’t worry about what is sounds like at first, just get it on paper. That was a game changer for me. When I got back to my desk that next week, it was all just flowing, and I finished most of my book within a few weeks. Thank you Patrice!
And to close this post, I wanted to share an excerpt from a wonderful book I’m currently reading, Ghosts in the Garden, written by Beth Kephart;
But you are never perfectly right when it comes to words. You are only yourself, and when you are alone as much as I had been alone with the work, yourself becomes too tight and stingy. You try to put too fine a point on things; you lose your talent for idle thought or lazy dreaming. You start doing battle with yourself over finally meaningless things when you could and actually should be out helping your neighbor rake her leaves. You obsess (but of course you obsess) until the joy is gone from that thing you’d loved, until your fury overwhelms your passion, until you no longer know how to sit with your back against a tree and write poetry that no one will ever see. I had become a writer because I’d loved the sound, the kiss of words. But now language seemed vacuous and puny.
What I had loved had become what I felt compelled to do; it was time to walk out my own front door. “Keenly observed,” author Gretel Ehrlich as written, “the world is transformed.” I went to the garden to see more truly. I went for transformation’s sake, and to win back my talent for plain living.
I love that. A talent for living. Onward now, and don’t forget to walk out your own front door and keep living!
Bonjour! I have recently returned from a trip to France, and among so many other beautiful places we saw, I must start an upcoming series of blog posts with my visit to Château de Malmaison, just outside Paris. A visit to Malmaison has been on my bucket list for a very long time, in fact, since way back when I first began to grow roses, the Souvenir de la Malmaison rose was one of the first roses I ever grew. After reading a little about how the rose got it’s name, I became interested in Josephine Bonaparte (the wife of Napolean Bonaparte) and her extensive collection of roses at Malmaison. Josephine was a bit of a rebel and I suppose that’s why I like her too, but her collection of roses, exotic animals and rare plants at Malmaison were incredible and highly out of the ordinary during the time, and even so today.
While Napolean was off fighting a war, she bought Malmaison for 300,000 francs, when she only had an allowance of 4,000 francs. So, the deficit had to be made up by Napolean! That’s pretty bold, and I love it! I suppose he was mad at her for a bit when he returned from war (hee-hee!), but she went straight away to the restoration of the house, and also began the cultivation of a phenomenal rose garden. Josephine collected exotic plants from all over the world and it is said that she is responsible for for the cultivation of 200 plants new to France. But her favorite plant was the rose. Between 1804 and 1814 Empress Josephine built her rose collection, and it became the greatest and largest rose collection in the world, unsurpassed until the creation of Sangerhausen in Germany and L’Hay outside Paris, one century later. Josephine’s rose garden was important for other reasons besides being the largest. The acquisition of rare roses was of great importance for France, for these became the first new ever-blooming roses to come from China which would later produce ever-blooming rose cultivars. It’s because of Josephine’s rose collection that allowed the french breeders to cross-pollinate and introduce these roses that we all know and love today. Without her dedication and sheer boldness, perseverance and determination–we would not have any repeat blooming roses! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Empress Josephine!
Although there is very little (virtually nothing) resemblance to the garden that once was, there is still a beautiful garden there. The roses that you see in the Garden of old Roses are a pretty impressive collection and none later than the late 1800’s. It was great seeing all the old roses there, and it seemed like a respectable nod to Josephine, but I wish they could restore the gardens to a somewhat similar brilliance that it once was. It is what it is, and regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there and was more than worth time spend on public transportation getting there!
History of the Rose (in a very brief nutshell)
According to fossil evidence, the rose is 35 million years old! It is believed garden cultivation of roses began some 5,000 years ago, probably in China. There are hieroglyphics of roses depicted in Egyptian tombs dating back to a thousand years ago. We have used roses in so many ways–medicinal, spiritual, for war and peace symbols, beauty regimens and of course, decoration. And throughout history, and even today, no other plant or flower has more symbolic meaning than the rose. Their meanings in the language of flowers is more extensive than any other plant or flower in the dictionary. A rose can have different meanings depending upon it’s variety such as a Dog rose, or a Carolina rose. They also convey different messages according to their color, as well as how they are presented, or arranged (together with other colors, or alone).
In the garden, the rose heralds the month of June. From the one-time bloomers to the hybrid perpetuals, China, Damasks and more, we enjoy their beauty in the garden more than any other flower. As one who grows a fair amount of roses, I can honestly say, they are the true workhorse of the garden. They provide continuous beauty throughout the summers, but those one-time bloomers allow us to revel in the ephemeral beauty of those special blooms too. As far as care goes, they are moderately ‘needy’, because they are heavy feeders, and of course, are susceptible to various diseases. I like to think my garden is working it’s way toward being a truly sustainable garden, however, when you consider my roses, it is not. Sustainability in the rose garden would mean I would have to forgo the plants that are most susceptible to diseases, and I just cannot do that. I want them all! But, what I have done to make it more sustainable is put the rose garden in an organization where the highly susceptible bushes are grouped together (regardless of their color, which sometimes drives me crazy). This makes it easy to maintain the really needy bushes and will sometimes contain the culprit diseases–black spot and rust– into one generally defined area.
Back to Malmaison, the interior of the castle was beautiful. But, not the gilded kind of beautiful–unlike Versailles, Malmaison felt very real, as if you could really live there comfortably. I loved every minute of the self-guided tour and stories of the interior life of Napolean and Josephine;
And since the rose was the flower of the month, for June, I wanted to share some of my own favorites from my garden;
Available now on stands, my feature in the Early Spring Edition 2018 of Country Gardens Magazine! wow! This was super exciting for me, and I’m so fortunate to have had this opportunity. Written so perfectly by Debra Prinzing, it’s a story called The Language of Love. I am just so happy at how this turned out because sometimes, when you’re giving a story interview, it isn’t interpreted exactly how you articulated it. Debra did a fantastic job at this, partly because she knows me–we are friends, but mostly because she’s a really great writer, she listens. Debra nailed it here, and this story really captures the essence of what I’m trying to do with my business, the upcoming book, and Posies!
Here I’m am being photographed in the garden for the story, All the photos in the magazine are by the fantastic photographer Erin Kunkel.
From the Heart- A Posy for a bride to be ~
Love Letters Posy ~
This has certainly been a highlight for me, and I hope you were able to grab a copy of this beautiful magazine, or better yet, it landed in your mailbox!
If you follow my Instagram feed, you’ll likely know that I’ve recently acquired a new puppy. Here is Violet, my French Bulldog little girl! She will be my flower muse, and I’m going to make her pose for pictures with pretty flowers (I know, the poor dog). Well, she’s got to earn her keep around here somehow! And since the February flower is the Violet, it’s fitting I share her first photo shoot with you here–
Ok! Now on to business about the Violet (flower)!
There is no other flower in existence that smells as sweet and quaint as the Violet. The violoa odora, or Sweet Violet, with it’s pretty, petite bloom has packed centuries of love and adoration behind it. In 18th century France, the Empress Josephine’s fondness of their distinctive heart shaped leaves drove it’s popularity up for many years after. Violet was Empress Josephine’s favorite scent, and the violet plays an important role in the love affair between the two. Every year on their anniversary, Napolean sent her a bouquet of violets. And when Josephine died, Napoleon returned from exile picked a posy of violets to lay on her grave. Upon his deathbed, a locket was found about his neck – it contained a portrait of his beloved Josephine, a lock of her hair and dried violet petals.
In the garden, the viola odora is making a comeback. But with all the hybrids available now it can be a challenge to determine if you’re buying a violet or a pansy. There is a distinct difference between the actual Viola odora and the newer hybrids, which I believe are more characteristic of the Pansy. Even though the Violet and Pansy are essentially the same plant genre, there is a difference. The aroma from a Violet is so soft, sweet, and almost candy-like, but sometimes can be earthy with a bit of powder to it. Pansies do not have a fragrance at all, and in fact the new hybrid violets sadly do not either. The violet bloom is distinguished by it’s petals and how they are arranged on the calyx. A violet will have two petals turned upward, and three pointing downward. A pansy will have the opposite, three petals up, and two downward. Also, Pansies are usually have more vivid markings on the petals. A Violet’s markings are a little more obscure and subtle if any at all. The true violet also has very distinct heart-shaped leaves, as you’ll see in the photo below;
For centuries, perfumers have captured the pure essence oil of the Viola Odora. Since the flowers are petite, it is very laborious to extract the essential oils and pure fragrance from such a tiny bloom. It takes a two acre field of blooms to make a few inconspicuous drops of fragrance. For that reason, Violet fragranced bath and beauty products have fallen out of popularity in the past 70 years or so. But while I was doing some research for my book, I stumbled across Angela Flanders London, a perfumer who has captured the sweet fragrance of the violet in her perfume ‘Josephine’. I would love to get my hands on that (hint to my husband here, as Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!), as I am sure it’s quite lovely.
Traditionally, it was the Valentine flower, and represents sweetness, modesty, and faithfulness in the language of flowers. And to me, it wouldn’t be appropriate to post about the Violet without a mention and honorable nod to The Garibaldi Family. The Garibaldi family are known as the last great American Violet Growers. I remember the last time I bought the Violets from Don Garbaldi, at Ano Nuevo Flower Growers, right up the Hwy 1 near Pescadero. I could not believe how beautiful and sweet these Violet nosegays were! They came in nosegays first of all! And wrapped in bright green violet leaves. Oh they were just magical! We set them out for Valentine’s Day in 2015, but unfortunately they didn’t sell well, so we never brought them back in. Sadly, I don’t know if we can still get them since Ano Nuevo changed owners from Garibaldi. I’ll have to investigate! So, if they’re still available, I’ll get some, so be sure to stop by and grab a nosegay so we can continue to foster the comeback of the great American Violet.
Scientifically known as Dianthus caryophyllus, the carnation has a very deep and rich history. The scientific name dianthus translated means “flower of love” or “flower of the gods”, depending on the source. The carnation has been revered for centuries, and holds several symbolic meanings, as well as various definitions in the language of flowers, depending on the color. In general, a carnation means fascination and admiration, but a pink carnation means ‘I will always remember you’. What a lovely sentiment appropriate for the upcoming Valentine holiday!
Carnations have fallen out of popularity in the past 20 years, but they are slowing making a come-back. Back in the early 90’s, the Andean Fair Trade Act opened the floodgates and our flower market became saturated with carnations and baby’s breath. All through the 80’s and 90’s it was unheard of to see a flower arrangement that didn’t include these two overworked flowers. It was the florists’ standard arrangement. And if you’re like me, we grew weary and tired of the same ‘ol in the standard flower arrangements.
But today, we’ve begun to see many new ruffly and pleasantly hued carnations on the market. I like that. I think the carnation deserves a comeback, and here’s why.
The carnation became known as the ‘cheap’ flower, but they’re beginning to shed that reputation and being used in some beautiful wedding work among floral designers. I have grown one variety (reminds me, I need to get more seed!) and used it in some of my wedding work called Chabaud La France, available here from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. This was a long time ago, and now I see this variety is quickly becoming very popular for bridal bouquets. They do not cost as much roses or orchids, so that makes them a beautiful option for bouquets. They’re so beautiful with the new frilly edges and gorgeous colors!
They’re available in many beautiful hues
Oh boy! Here’s where you’ll get hooked. Just look at a few of the available colors! No more just the standard white, pink, red, and sometimes yellow.
They’re sturdy cut flower
I’m sure it’s why they were all the rage given they’re affordable AND they last for a very long while in the vase.
They have rich history
Some scholars believe that the name “carnation” comes from “coronation” or “corone” (flower garlands), as it was one of the flowers used in Greek ceremonial crowns. Others think the name stems from the Latin “carnis” (flesh), which refers to the original color of the flower, or incarnacyon (incarnation), which refers to the incarnation of God made flesh. Either way, they are on the records in early history as a very popular flower. Along with many symbolic uses, the carnation holds several significant meanings in the language of flowers too. A red carnation signifies deep love and devotion, while a light red would mean you just really like someone. If you were ever given a yellow carnation, look out, you’re not even being considered, and a striped carnation meant there was hesitation and indecision in the relationship. But white carnations signify purity and luck.
For me personally, a white carnation will sometimes remind me of death or funerals. The scent especially, evokes an early memory for me at my grandfather’s funeral. His casket was draped with many carnations, and the entire viewing room smelled so sweet and a little spicy (just like him!). But today I hold that memory dear to my heart. I love that flowers can do that for us–evoke memories and remind us of places and people, or even a particular moment in time.
Have I told you I’m writing a book? Anyone who knows me would more than likely know this! It has been a long time coming. You see, I’ve been obsessed most of my life with all things nostalgic and romantic. And I love flowers. So what is more romantic than using flowers to create secret (or not) messages?
Petals can talk, and creating messages and sentiments with flowers, plants and herbs is a long lost phenomenon. I mean, most people know that there is a language in flowers, but why don’t we use it? We need it more than ever! Why not take a little time and browse through a floral dictionary and create a simple message for a friend or a loved one? A new baby? An engagement? Or for sympathy, there is something so moving about receiving a beautiful floral arrangement, but that combined with each flower and spirit of herb and green carrying a message is astoundingly powerful. I’m so excited to share what I know about the language of flowers and creating sentiments -creating Posies. These sweet little flower arrangements are powerhouses of emotions and are ready and fun to put together.
I’ve spent the past two years working on building my platform and testing the waters. Are people really interested in knowing more about the language of flowers? And are they interested to know how they can incorporate using the language of flowers in their giving rituals? Yes! They are! I think we all love the idea of doing a little research -getting lost in this secret world for just a little bit, and giving a sentiment to someone you care about. The impact of your thoughtfulness will never be forgotten. And you’ll have given some good mental health time to yourself in the process to. It’s a win -win!
I have assigned book contact now, so suddenly, is real and I better get crackin’ on it! I am so excited to start this beautiful journey, and I want to share it with you. I’ll be posting as I progress through it, and as a ‘newbie’ writer, this should be interesting! I will also be sharing some other insights that I hope you’ll find entertaining and engaging too, as well as any workshops and presentations I have going on. The current target publish date is spring of 2019, but I will be updating along the way to reflect any change in that.
All my best~
It’s bloom day! Well, it’s a little past, but better late than never 🙂
I’m feeling a little bit guilty and sad this morning. The fires are raging in the West and the South is practically drowning. What scary weather we’re having! My thoughts and prayers have been going in their direction for a couple of weeks now. Mother nature is a force. And we need to respect the fact that we are changing our environment. I hope and pray we make it through the hurricanes and fires soon, and let there be settled weather.
In the mean while it gives us a chance to reflect I suppose. This monthly Bloom Day post pushes me to stop and look and see what’s happening in the garden. At least once a month. There seems to be not enough time on a daily basis to go and just sit and look. I like the idea of keeping up with this Bloom Day post. I would highly recommend it to everyone. Even if you’re a patio gardener you should still come check everything out on the 1st of each month and marvel at what you’ve got going on.