What could be lovelier than a giant Farmer John Dahlia? A flower gardener’s delight, the stunning white bloom with hints of yellow and lime green makes you look twice. Dahlias and other garden favorites are more than just pretty faces, however. In fact, behind their beautiful exteriors, many flowers have mysterious and delightful secrets to tell.
When Is a Black Dahlia Not a Black Dahlia?
Many people think of the color black when they hear the word dahlia, but surprisingly, there is no such thing as a black dahlia. So-called black dahlias are really a deep burgundy color.
What’s more, dahlias come in a wide variety of sizes, flower patterns and colors. The popular Farmer John Dahlia is a brilliant white, the Frank Holmes is lavender, Fall Fiesta boasts a yellow orange mix and the Burma Gem is dark purple.
Dahlia history is full of intriguing facts. Marie Antoinette, the ill-fated Queen of France, fell in love with dahlias when they were introduced in Europe. A variety of dahlia is named after her. Dahlias were originally wildflowers that grew in the mountainous regions of Guatemala and Mexico. After Spanish botanists discovered dahlias growing wild, they imported them to Europe in the 18th century. Their wildflower past makes them one of the hardiest flowers in the garden. There are now more than 30 species of dahlias available.
Tulips: Worth More Than Gold?
Tulips signify spring in many parts of the United States. In 1630s Western Europe, however, tulips were so revered, they were worth more than gold. Tulips were used as a form of currency during this aptly named “Tulip Mania” time period.
Tulips have a very short seasonal lifespan of only three to seven days. They have the ability to grow one inch per day after being cut and their bulbs make tasty substitutes for onions in recipes.
The Symbol of Love
Roses symbolize beauty and love. Roses are the most widely ordered flower on Valentine’s Day. A popular perfume scent, roses also have medicinal properties. Rose hips, the berry-like plant fruits, are full of Vitamin C. Chinese herbal practitioners use some rose species as a remedy for upset stomachs.
Sunflowers are symbols of autumn and turn toward the sun as it rises and falls each day. These pretty sun followers also have a surprising capacity to remove toxic chemicals from soil. After the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in 1986, sunflowers were used to remove deadly toxins from surrounding water sources. Sunflower seeds are a natural source of food for many birds and a favorite snack among humans as well.
Pushing Up Daisies
Daisies grow wild even in the worst conditions. If left unabated, they quickly take over. Still, it’s hard not to like the little white petals and yellow centers. They just look happy. No one knows the exact origin of the term “pushing up daisies,” meaning that someone is dead, but planting daisies on graves was the custom in Europe and early settlements in the United States. Daisies have several medicinal properties, including cough suppression, relief from indigestion and back pain reduction.
The Lotus Blossom
Because of its ability to become dormant during droughts and seemingly come alive again when water is abundant, the lotus is a sacred flower in Egypt, symbolizing resurrection. Lotus seeds have the capacity to survive for long periods of time. In fact, in a dry lake bed in China, germination occurred from seeds that were 1,300 years old.
The lotus plant is used in a variety of practical ways. In Myanmar, lotus plant fibers are used to make robes for Buddha; stamens are dried and turned into teas; lotus seeds are eaten as a snack; and bakers turn lotus seed paste into delicious pastries, puddings and cakes.
Flower of the Gods
The scientific name for the carnation is dianthus caryophyllus, which means “flower of the Gods.” The carnation is the national flower of Spain, but it has a less than happy reputation in France. French cultures believe that carnations are bad luck. Koreans predict a young girl’s future by placing three carnations in her hair. If the bottom carnation dies first, she will have a difficult life. If the middle carnation dies first, she will have hard times when she is young, but a happy life later. If the top carnation dies first, she will have a happy youth, but a difficult end. Such is the power of the flower.