Welcome to another Blooming Lovely Monday. Today’s flower is the small and dainty delight of Heartsease.
These dainty little flowers form a delightful swathe of colour and are fabulous in containers as well as in flower beds. They bloom from April right the way through to September and will self seed in other areas of your garden too. The flowers are one of the type that will shield its petals from rain and chill by bowing its head, but some sun will persuade them to lift up again.
The official name of Heartsease is Viola tricolour due to them having three colours and there is a lot of flower lore about them. They have other names people know them by, Love lies bleeding, Heart’s delight, Tickle-my-fancy, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, Come-and-cuddle-me, or love-in-idleness, Johnny-jump-up, the Trinity herb Meet-me-in-the-Entry, Kiss-her-in-the-Buttery, Three-Faces-under-a-Hood, Kit-run-in-the-Fields, Pink-o’-the-Eye, Godfathers and Godmothers, Stepmother, Herb Trinity, Herb Constancy, Pink-eyed-John, Bouncing Bet, Flower o’luce, Bird’s Eye, Bullweed, and the Pansy. I wonder which name you know them by.
This little flower was the symbol for Athens for the ancient Greeks and also a symbol of fertility. In the 19th century Welsh insurecctionists wore a sprig of Heartease to identify themselve to supporters. Some stories say the flower is dedicated to St. Valentine as it has a long association with love and lovers.
Legend says you should not pick Heartsease while it is wet, a sensible thought to my mind as they will be all droopy, but the legend says if you pick the flower damp someone in the family will die. Best leave the flowers where they are. It is also said that if you want Heartsease to grow well it is best to plant them in a heartshape. If the arrive in your garden naturally they often form rounded clumps.
Heartsease also has literary fame. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oberon squeezes the juice of heartsease into Titania’s eyes so she will fall in love with the first person she sees on opening her eyes.
In the language of flowers Heartsease means, think of me. This small flower has also inspired poets to think on love.
Do you remember that hour
In a nook of the flowing uplands
When you found for me, at the cornfield’s edge,
A golden and purple flower?
Heartsease, you said. I thought it might be
A token that love meant well by you and me.
I shall not find it again
With you no more to guide me.
I could not bear to find it now
With anyone else beside me.
And the heartsease is far less rare
Than what it is named for, what I can feel nowhere.
Once again it is summer:
Wildflowers beflag the lane
That takes me away from our golden uplands,
Heart-wrung and alone.
The best I can look for, by vale or hill,
A herb they tell me is common enough — self-heal.
C. Day Lewis, Poems 1943-1947 (1948).
Thanks for reading.
By Holav (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons