Welcome to a Blooming Lovely Monday.
My flower today was going to be the Rose, but on researching roses it seems the net is awash with all kinds of information about them. I thought there might be another flower I could use instead, a humbler flower than the grand rose, and of course, I picked my namesake, the Daisy.
A botanical note, the daisy belongs to the group of vascular plants that make up 10% of the entire flowering plant life on earth. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. They are an ancient flower type and have grown for at least the last five thousand years.
Ancient Egyptians used the daisy motif for cosmetic tubes and jars. An archaeological dig in Crete searching for evidence of the Minoan culture discovered hair pins decorated with daisies. At Vindolanda in the north of England, where there is a fabulous museum dedicated to the Roman fort on the site, one exhibit is a leather shoe. It looks very like the toe post sandals I am wearing today, and on it sits a leather replica daisy. When I saw the shoe while I was on a visit there, the connection to the past was so strong. If the owner had been next to me I’d have asked her where she got her shoes.
The more I’ve found out about the daisy the more I like it. The flower’s name comes from the Old English words, daegeseage or day’s eye, because of the way the flowers closes its petals when the sun goes down. The daisy has also been known as bruise word or wound wort and these terms reveal the plant’s healing properties. The name Daisy has also been used as derivative for the name Margaret. This comes from the French word Marguerite, which means Daisy. In Latin the daisy is called Bellis Perennis, meaning “beautiful. During the romanticised Victorian era the name Daisy was very popular for girls, possibly chosen in the hope the child would be as sweet as the flower she was named for.
The flower symbolism associated with the daisy is purity, innocence, loyal love, beauty, patience and simplicity. In flower lore the daisy is also a symbol of rebirth. In the Middle Ages daisies were used to decorate graves of the newly parted. Daisies are still being laid on graves today.
During the Middle Ages the daisy flower became strongly associated with the Virgin Mary and was known by the name “Mary’s Flower of God” perhaps because of it being a symbol of innocence. At this time prayer gardens dedicated to the Virgin Mary were built by some churches. These Mary Gardens as they were called, were places of peace where worshipers could pray surrounded by various flowers, each of which symbolised some element of the Virgin’s goodness. Among those blooms would be the daisy. The Virgin Mary was often depicted standing in a beautiful garden in the paintings made in this era. I’m not sure if the gardens were made because of the paintings or the paintings were made because of the gardens, either way round, a sweet scented garden where people can find peace sounds like a wonderful idea.
The Virgin Mary isn’t the only figure of worship the daisy is associated with; the Greek goddess Artemis, the Norse god Thor and the goddess Freya, all have links to the daisy.
In pagan lore the daisy is said to be one of the fairies flowers. Some people say that wearing a daisy in any form will bring you luck and hanging a bunch of daisies in the house will bring calmness when it is needed. Wreaths made of daisies placed under the pillow of a child will protect them from cramps so they sleep easily. You will know spring has arrived if you can step on twelve daisies with one footprint.
In the past young maidens strolling in the flowery meadows would close their eyes and grab a clump of daisies. They would count the number of flowers to see how long they would have to wait to marry, each flower symbolising a year.
It is said the daisy will show you if your love is true. He loves me, he loves me not, is a game young women have played for generations. I wonder how many girls have felt just like Jane Austin’s Emma Woodhouse if the result of their game was not to their liking.
“Dear Diary, Today I tried not to think about Mr. Knightly. I tried not to think about him when I discussed the menu with Cook… I tried not to think about him in the garden where I thrice plucked the petals off a daisy to ascertain his feelings for Harriet. I don’t think we should keep daisies in the garden, they really are a drab little flower. And I tried not to think about him when I went to bed, but something had to be done.”
Thankfully I expect the gardeners would have quietly allowed the daisies to continue to bloom where Miss Woodhouse could not see them because daisies are more than decorative.
The whole of the daisy plant has medicinal uses. It contains saponins and tannins, both very beneficial ingredients. The young flower petals can be eaten in salads, you can also add them to soups and stews. Dried daisy plants can be used for teas or to make a tonic for metabolic support, ease gout and help lung congestion, among other things.
The Roman surgeons who accompanied the legions as they battled their way across Europe would order their slaves to gather sacks full of daisies in order to extract the healing juice. Bandages were soaked in this liquid. They were used to bind sword and spear cuts after a battle.
In the 16th century John Gerard recommended the daisy for wounds as it had properties to reduce heat and swelling. He also recommended a daisy brew for chest complaints.
In the 17th century Culpepper’s Herbal references both wound washes and ointments made from daisies, as well as internal tonics.
The versatile daisy is still used in herbal remedies today.
Here is a link to tell you more about the chemical components found in daisies that you might find interesting. http://www.positivehealth.com/article/herbal-medicine/a-new-look-at-daisy-bellis-perennis
One last thought and a recollection; it is said the daisy brings peace and calm. I recall many happy hours as a child where I would sprawl on the grass and make daisy chains while I day dreamed. Those warm sunny days were very peaceful. Perhaps there is just enough left of summer here for one more daisy chain.
Do you have a memory of the daisy flower? Let me know if you do.
Top Property of Daisy Banks.
Middle “Bllis perennis(01)”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –
Bottom”Dawn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Daisy_chain.JPG#/media/File:Daisy_chain.JPG