There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray,love, remember: and there is pansies. that's for thoughts. Ophelia, Hamlet – Act 4, Scene 5. Lines: 191-192
My husband and daughter went grocery shopping together yesterday. They returned very pleased with themselves and presented me with a surprise: a rosemary topiary. What a splendid gift!
Floriography,also known as the language of flowers, is a fascinating topic. Symbolic meanings of flowers have a lengthy history.
Medieval gardens were filled with significant plantings. "Mary Gardens" and rosary gardens have a long history entwined with Catholicism (yep, more to it than the ubiquitous bathtub Virgins that non-Catholics sometimes giggle about.
For an entertaining web diversion, check out the Bathtub Art Museum:
The Bathtub Art Museum is a not-for-profit museum dedicated to the bathtub in art. Artists have used the bathtub as a subject or in more cases, a supporting subject, in their creations since bathtubs as we know them today have become common pieces of furniture in the household. The majority of this bathtub art collection consists of postcards dating from 1900 to the current year.
My first introduction to floriography was Kate Greenaway's famous book, The Language of Flowers. When I was a small child, the local bookmobile had a copy of this book in a rummage bin, it was a very happy discovery! Spent a lot of time plucking blossoms from my mother's garden and creating bouquets laden with meaning, to hand out to friends and neighbors. Most of you did this as kids too, right?
Floriography has origins in Persia and Turkey, but it was the Victorians who cultivated the codes to a high art.
Shakespeare Gardens are themed gardens using plants mentioned by Shakespeare. They exist in all sorts of famous and improbable places.
The painting shown here, by Victorian artist, Sir John Everett Millais, is probably the most famous depiction of Ophelia. It was used as the jacket art for the first hardcover edition of Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia: saving the selves of adolescent girls.
Pipher's book unleashed an avalanche of publications about adolescence (first on girls and later, boys) and how societal and media pressures affect them. Pipher discusses "lookism":
Lookism is evaluating others solely on the basis of one dimension--appearance. Like other 'isms' such as racism, it's a way of simplifying that can lead to stereotyping.
she also adds
I encourage girls to have one or two close friends and not to worry about popularity. It's also good to have friends of all ages and also to spend time with animals.
Many girls are saved by their love of their pets. I encourage girls to focus on interests and hobbies, on volunteer work and studies. It's okay not to be popular. In fact, it's actually better. By late adolescence, it is easier to be loved for who one truly is.
Reviving Ophelia spawned a nifty nationwide program, The Ophelia Project, which is devoted to nurturing the development of adolescent girls. Check out their site, they do good works!
My own tweenie daughter, C., underwent a transformation of her own this weekend. She had been rumbling and mumbling about donating her beautiful but hated very long hair to Locks of Love. Well, she did just that on Saturday, no more tangles for her. She had the whole mass lopped off, with a very short and spiky back and longish, asymetrical swoopy bit in front. Plus dyed orange, red and black cherry (kind of a deep plum). This might sound awful but she looks radiant. No sentimental stuff about all of that hair. The hairdressers offered up the giant braid for us to take home and mail but she waved it away. The hair salon keeps the donation forms on hand and took care of the mailing. I wish our digital camera worked, it would have been nice to have "before" and "after" pictures.
Sigh. Mom was very nostaligic, had weird impulse to take the hair home and... (then what? some sort of macabre Victorian art project?).
There is a woman in Missouri who maintains a museum, I would certainly like to visit it! Leila's Hair Museum is full of hair art and artifacts. But C. wanted to share her hirsute bounty with bald kids and cancer patients, that is just fine by me. I am very pleased and proud to have such a generous kid.