Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Flower project

In the past couple of months, I started working on a personal project centered on flowers and their role in myths, legends, and religions throughout history. Like most people, I enjoy looking and savoring the smell of flowers. They are a marvel of nature and a balm for the eyes and the spirit. My love for them, however, is not matched by my knowledge of them. I am terrible at remembering their names as well as the names of plants in general, both in Italian and English! What to do about that?

Many years ago an Italian journalist, Alfredo Cattabiani, wrote a book, Florario, about the meanings of plants and flower in different cultures. I don't know if it has been translated in other languages,

My mom bought it for me and I began to read it, but my teenager self found it too dense and erudite for my tastes. So I decided to put it aside for when I would have reached a more mature and reflexive age. Apparently this is the time! When I went to Italy last summer, I recovered it from my old bedroom's bookcase and took it back to the US to give it another try. After perusing it, more than 20 years later, I still think it's best taken in small bites (I have a short attention span!), yet it's a fascinating summary of flower lore that I find very inspiring.

My plan is to follow the book, chapter by chapter and dedicate to each flower an illustration that evokes not onlythe natural beauty of flower or plant but also the symbolisms and stories that such beauty has inspired in humans in the ages past. I will finally learn my flower nomenclature... and hopefully much more!

I started with roses in Sub Rosa. I left several meanings out, by focusing on the love and secret symbolism. I followed with the Lotus of Creation, that I am about to complete (I got stuck because one crucial marker needed an ink refill and I could not bring myself to go to Blick's to buy it!'s to cold: I just want to stay home!!!).

Well, of course I knew what roses and lotuses looked like, but I am sure I will soon encounter several names that have to find a "face"(or viceversa "faces" that will finally find a name).

Hope you'll stick with me in this discovery journey.
Talk to you soon! :)


  1. This sounds like an intriguing and very fascinating journey that you have started on - enjoy! Thanks for your nice comments on my blog, glad my lion brought back happy memories for you. There are lots of dilapidated old villas and castles around here, and I love visiting them and wandering through the parks. Greetings from Rhineland, Valerie

  2. This is so interesting! I love flowers, I wish I had a greener thumb :o)
    I hope the weather improves for you so you can get your marker!

  3. Sounds like a very interesting project! Personally, I've always loved the illustrated field guides. They're wonderful to look through but none of the official plant names stick with me either :)