|Remembrance poppies at the Australian War Memorial|
- Poppy – The symbol of sleep, peace and death. Sleep because of the opium extracted from them and death because of their blood-red colour. Memorable images include the magical poppy field in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy are chums are almost lulled to eternal sleep, and the blood red blooms on Flanders’ fields that recall more than a million sacrifices. Lest we forget.
- Red Rose – UK Labour Party; House of Lancaster; England Rugby; socialism; romantic love – combined with the white rose of York to become the Tudor Rose and national flower of England. With its combination of powerful scent, dramatic beauty and viscous thorns, it is beloved of playwrights and poets form Shakespeare and Robert Burns to Gertrude Stein and Poison.
- Daffodil – Wales and the Cancer Society. As daffodils are part of the narcissus family, they also represent vanity. Appearing at spring in the Northern hemisphere, the yellow daffodil is associated with new beginnings and particularly Easter (the German word for daffodil is ‘Osterglocke’, meaning Easter bell). Thanks to William Wordsworth’s (in)famous poem, it also represents The Lake District for many.
- Sunflower – Honesty; Happiness; Faith; Adoration; Vegan Society; Cancer Support – individually they are remarkable and together they are glorious. From the fields of gold the cyclists ride past in the Tour de France to Van Gogh’s crazy brilliant blooms or Ai Weiwei’s Tate/Unliever-commissioned sculpture of ten tonnes of porcelain seed husks, they have stunning visual impact. It was thought that the sunflower (girasol) turns its head to follow the sun until sixteenth-century romance-busting botanist John Gerard pointed out this was only true of the immature buds but the adult plants grew out of it. Despite that, this is still a beautiful flower quote from the film Calendar Girls:
"The flowers of Yorkshire are like the women of Yorkshire. Every stage of their growth has its own beauty, but the last phase is always the most glorious. Then very quickly they all go to seed. Which makes it ironic my favourite flower isn't even indigenous to the British Isles, let alone Yorkshire. I don't think there's anything on this planet that more trumpets life that the sunflower. For me that's because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that's such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life."
- Forget-me-Not – True love; Faithfulness; Remembrance; Freemasonry; Alzheimer’s Association – Henry IV adopted the flower as a symbol of his exile in 1398. It grows madly in English spring gardens and woodlands, particularly by riverbanks as it prefers moist habitats and can tolerate partial sun and shade. I love the delicate little blooms and the subtle fragrance which develops in the evenings although they have little scent during the day, and I incorporated it into my bridal bouquet.