5 little-known facts about flowers

July 29, 2015

From ancient Egypt up to today, flowers have held a special power and place in our hearts. Here's some fun facts about flowers you might not have known.

5 little-known facts about flowers

1. Flowers have always been important

  • Flowers have been used as uniquely appealing, readily available decorations and adornments in all cultures since time immemorial.
  • Their beauty has been celebrated by artists and writers. They've been captured in poems, embroidered in tapestries, painted on porcelain and engraved on glass.
  • Potpourri, aromatic oils and pressed and dried flowers were originally popular in Victorian times.
  • With the advent of the hippie and "flower power" movements of the 1960s they came back into favour and have remained.

2. The world's oldest flowers are Roman

Written documents describe the use of flowers in ancient times. The oldest preserved specimens found to date have been displayed in the British Museum. They're part of a dried garland discovered in a Roman tomb in Egypt and are thought to be about 2,000 years old. Although faded, the flowers are still intact.

3. Floral scents were used for a variety of reasons

  • Flowers and other aromatic substances have always held an important place in folklore and tradition.
  • Before the discovery of bacteria and viruses, flowers and scents were used in an attempt to purify the air and ward off illness.
  • Well-to-do members of society carried orange pomanders to hold to their noses whenever they encountered a bad odour.
  • In religious ceremonies, incense made of herbs and resins has been used since Egyptian times, when it was believed to carry human souls to heaven.
  • In classical times, the burning of incense based on the scent of flowers was considered to be one of the best offerings to the gods.

4. Roses have always been special

  • A single rose represented silence.
  • Roses were often sculpted on dining room ceilings. The gravings were meant to indicate that whatever was said there — particularly if the wine had been flowing freely — was sub rosa ("under the rose") and not to be repeated.
  • Roses also became emblems for love: a white bridal rose signified happy love, a yellow rose indicated waning affection, and a deep red rose stood for bashfulness.

5. Almost every flower has a special symbolism

  • Nearly every flower and herb acquired a meaning so that a lover could convey feelings by sending a bouquet of the appropriate flowers.
  • Traditionally, daisies represent innocence and rosemary remembrance.
  • An inverted flower indicates the opposite of the normal meaning.

The colourful blooms and scents of spring and summer need not fade with the passing season. Instead, they can be gathered and preserved for year-round pleasure. Now you know a little bit more about why flowers are still important today.

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