Valentines Day is only two weeks away. As we know, The Heirloom Orchardist is just as sentimental as any other lover of old fashioned blossoms. This image of a Victorian valentine displays a mass of delicate Forget-Me-Not blossoms.
The wood Forget-Me-Not is a spring flowering perennial. Greatly loved by wildflower enthusiasts, it tends to grow in shady, damp areas such as woodlands and stream beds. While on a woodland jaunt, if you are lucky enough to stumble upon a flowering colony of native forget-me-nots, you will not forget the moment. There are few flowers with such a combination of tenderness and clear sky-blue color.
There are many legends attached to this blossom. One of my favorites was mentioned by Peter Folkard, in his book Plant Lore Legends and Lyrics, published in 1884:
“It is said that after the Battle of Waterloo, an immense quantity of Forget-me-nots sprung up upon different parts of that sanguinary field, the soil of which had been enriched by the blood of heroes.”
But the origin of this flower’s name seems to have come from a work published by the English scholar Charles Mills (1788-1826), who wrote The History of Chivalry or Knighthood. This was brought to my attention in an article published in 1846:
“The bright-eyed Forget-Me-Not has been more renowned in story and song, probably, than any other flower, at least, more than any other of its size. It has long been a darling of the poets, having been known in England since the time of Edward the Fourth. It was first be-rhymed, we suppose, on account of its bearing so prominent a part in the incident related by Mills, in a note in his work on Chivalry. The story runs thus: "Two lovers were loitering along the margin of a lake on a fine summer's evening, when the maiden discovered some flowers growing in the water close to the bank of an island at some distance from the shore. She expressed a desire to possess them, when her knight, in the true spirit of chivalry, plunged into the water, and swimming to the spot, cropped the wished-for plant, but his strength was unable to fulfill the object of his ambition; and feeling that he could not regain the shore, although very near it, he threw the flowers on the bank, and casting a last affectionate look on his lady-love, said, 'Forget-me-not,' and was buried in the water." - Christian Parlor Magazine, 1846, E.G. Wheeler, MD
If you love someone with a partly shady garden area, a packet of Forget-Me-Not seeds would be a perfect valentine gift. Today, you can get a pink strain as well as the original blue. (The previous links will bring you to our sponsor’s site)