Art’s association with nature has been eternal. Artists find solace in nature and nature finds a companion in these artists. It’s a fair trade, an undying association. To be honest, I’m spending a considerable amount of time taking care of the plants at home, not because I am bored, but maybe because I found pleasure in watching something grow.
This one evening, I found myself on the rooftop of my building. I was walking, thinking, projecting, when I saw a plant growing through the walls of a cemented wall. “Bloom, where you’re planted”, they say. The atheist within me stood aside and allowed the believer to take the center stage. I heard a faint ‘Hallelujah’ from under my breath. Green is a lavish color. It’s symbolic of all things present around you, it’s a strong force.
I adore colors. All colors. Colors bring alive thoughts, they represent emotions. When it comes to flowers, I’d be lying if I said I loved all flowers. I like specific flowers. So, for me…well, I like Lilacs (make a note of it). Most women I know love flowers. General favorite: Roses. They say it represents love and many fierce emotions.
Sometime last year, I heard about Elton John’s obsession with flowers. A report from 2000, which highlighted the singer’s expenses, declared that he had spent almost 300,000 pounds on flowers alone! Artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Claude Monet have also represented nature through their paintings. O’Keeffe’s May Flowers offers viewers an up-close and personal image of these natural forms. It was evidently showcased in her paintings “Jimson Weed”, and ‘Black hollyhock and Blue Larkspur”.
When it comes to Van Gogh, his love is equally clear. “Van Gogh’s inimitable fusion of form and content is powerful; dramatic, lyrically rhythmic, imaginative, and emotional, for the artist was completely absorbed in the effort to explain either his struggle against madness or his comprehension of the spiritual essence of man and nature,” states The Van Gogh Gallery’s website. Some of Monet’s most famous works capture water lilies floating peacefully on the surface of a pond.
In the Victorian era, Floriography was heavily practiced and it grew to become one of the most prevalent forms of communication during that time. To put it simply, Floriography translates to flower writing. It is the language of flowers. People communicated using flowers and every flower carried some meaning.
During this time, social constructs valued chastity more than anything. To overstep this line, or express too much was seen as being promiscuous. In response to these social norms, people relied on secret forms of flirtations and affairs and resorted to communicating in their own, creative way. Oscar Wilde, our beloved Irish poet, supposedly coaxed his friends to sport green carnations to represent their homosexuality. When questioned, these individuals would deny any deep meaning attached to it. This was to avoid any legal battle.
This practice is known to have been introduced by Lady Mary Wortley, an aristocrat, and poet who married the British Ambassador of Turkey. A series of her travel letters were published after her death. Selam, a secret floral language of communication, was one that was introduced by her and piqued England’s interest. This mode of communication was viewed as an amalgamation of the Turkish and British culture and was essentially practiced by Harem girls.
There were several meanings and emotions attached to these flowers. From Love to grief to hate – all were represented through flowers. Public forms of affection and openly expressing was condemned during the Victorian era, and so, flowers like rose, daffodil, and white rose represented the various degrees of love. Roses represented love, passion; daffodil represented unrequited love, and white rose displayed innocent love. Grief was also represented through flowers like poppy, marigold, and harebell, which represented remembrance, death, and grief respectively. Rejection (yes, let’s address this) was also represented through different flowers like yellow carnations, asphodel and yellow rose which signified rejection, regrets, and friendship respectively.
Forms of floriography have been practiced in traditional cultures like Europe, Asia, and Africa. Such forms of communication are not in practice anymore as man has taken some serious advancement leaps. But, in my opinion, I’d say handwritten love letters and flowers were the most exquisite way to express oneself. I’m not discrediting the convenience our mobile phones provide but that’s the point of it. Why does it have to be convenient? Why can’t it be dreamy and exciting? Why can’t it be full of wait?
This world is a strange, strange place. But, I’m not complaining. I’ve written many letters in the past but I don’t anymore and that doesn’t feel right. It’s honestly so heartfelt. Like, a letter oozes of real emotions, and you’ll agree with me. Write a letter to your partner, buy some flowers, and have a meal together. And remember to keep your phones aside. Communicate to comprehend, for a change.