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Talking Flowers // August

In Bloom: The Lily

With around 100 species of Lily, mostly native to the Northern Hemisphere, this radiant flower comes in pink, yellow, red, orange, lilac and of course the iconic white.

A symbol of love (in Chinese 'lily' means 'forever in love') and a symbol of majesty - its no wonder white Lilies are a popular choice for wedding flowers!

Did anyone 'Gild the Lily'?

When Shakespeare wanted to point out the folly of trying to improve on perfection, he turned to the Lily, though he never talked about 'gilding the lily'. The original quote, from King John, was

"To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, To throw a perfume on the violet..."

So next time someone talks of 'gilding the lily', you can put them straight!

Created by Hera of Venus?

Like all stunning flowers featured in our magazine, the Lily appears in many myths and religions.

The Greeks called Lilies the flowers of Hera, wife of Zeus, and said they were created from drops of her breast milk. Incidentally this milk was also said to create the Milky Way!

The Romans associate Lilies with Venus, goddess of beauty, who was said to be so jealous of the flowers loveliness that she added the huge pistils that grow at its centre. We all know how dangerous the pollen on these can be, permanently staining a bride's dress with orange.

Perhaps this is the jealously of Venus at work, even today...

Captured in a Fresco, 3500 years ago

But for the Minoans the Lily was seen as sacred, associated with Britomartis, goddess of hunting. If you are ever in Crete, visit the Corridor of Processions, in Knossos, where you can see these flowers in the famous Prince of Lilies fresco. Depicting a man - believed to be a priest-king - with a Lily crown and peacock feather, the fresco dates from 1550-1450 BC!

A Potent Symbol

The Lily is also frequently mentioned in The Bible, most poetically in the Song of Solomon,

"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters."

It has become a symbol of purity associated with the Virgin Mary, and many churches use Lilies in Easter services as symbol of Resurrection, with its trumpet like flowers symbolising victory.

It has also become associated with death (especially the death of the young and innocent) and the martyrdom of saints.

Some Lily bulbs are edible, providing Chinese cooks with a starchy root vegetable. Eat out in Shanghai and you could well be eating a Lily bulb! And if you were an Elizabethan with a fever, or arthritis, you could well be treated with an unction created from Lily bulbs.

Lilies for All

Originally Lilies were rare and difficult to grow. Dug in the wild and transplanted into gardens in Europe and the US, most did not survive and the plant gained a reputation as being beyond all but the most diligent and obsessive gardeners.

We have horticulturalist Jan de Graaff to thank for creating hybrid Lilies that have made it easy for everyone to grow and enjoy this wonderful flower.

He began experimenting with hybrids in 1938, and in 1941 he produced Enchantment, a hot-coral colour Lily with a speckled throat that the American gardening journal, Horticulture, called "the most famous hybrid Lily
of all time".

At Flowercard, we select red Calla Lilies as the centrepiece in our miniature bouquets because of their beauty and longevity - a Flowercard is designed to last for two weeks, after all. A tropical bloom from southern Africa, walk across the island of Madagascar and you'd be surrounded by Calla Lilies. Now that sounds like heaven!

Flowercard People

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We're delighted to announce the August winner of our Flowercard People award is Lynda Robinson. Lynda was nominated by her friend Janet Wilson, who emailed us to say:

"My friend, Lynda is wife to Raymond and mother of 3 lovely girls, Danielle (15), Grace (14) and Becky (5). There's a very special atmosphere in their home, with the girls getting on unbelievably well! However, both Gracie and Becky have cystic fibrosis as well as other difficult medical problems. Incessantly, Lynda takes all this in her stride, including many sick days, numerous hospital visits and admissions, 75 miles away. Uncomplaining, she just gets on with life, and her positive attitude rubs off on the girls with each keen to reach her full potential. Such an inspiration!"

We could not agree more! In the next few days we'll be dispatching a Flowercard to Lynda to show our admiration for someone who's clearly a wonderful mother to three lovely daughters. We'll leave it up to Janet to pick the Flowercard design she wants us to send to Lynda, and to tell us the personal message she wants us to print on the Flowercard to congratulate her most deserving friend.

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Last month's winner, Victoria Cannon, sent us this lovely email and photograph to say how she felt on receiving her Love Is Flowercard, with its anthurium centrepiece, having been nominated by her mother Tricia.

"Thank you so much for making me the winner of the Flowercard People Award. I am very honoured to be the first person to receive this award. I was very surprised that my mum entered me, she is an amazing women who has put up with a lot of heartbreak but has always stayed strong for her family. I have enclosed my photo with the beautiful Flowercard I received which now has pride of place on our mantelpiece. After making mum take many photos, I have now decided that this one is the right one! Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. I think the Flowercard People Award is a really lovely idea."victoria cannon

If you know someone like Victoria or Lynda who deserves a Flowercard, why not nominate them for our Flowercard People Award? Every month we'll select a winner to receive your choice of Flowercard, with your personal message on the front, for FREE. Even if they don't win this month, they'll still go back into the draw, to be considered again and again.

So what are the qualities we'll be looking for in our Flowercard People Award?

Well, that's up to you! Maybe people who always think of others, individuals who've stayed strong through difficult times, friends who've shown courage, kindness, selflessness and determination. You tell us by nominating them.

How to make your FREE Flowercard Nomination

  • Please describe why your nominee deserves a FREE Flowercard in no more than 100 words in an email to talkingflowers@flowercard.co.uk
  • Be sure to include a daytime phone number for us to contact you, should your nomination win.
  • To help us identify your email, please type "Flowercard Award Nomination" in the subject line.
  • Please read the Flowercard Award Terms and Conditions

Our Summer Garden Competition!

As we head into the heights of summer we want to see photographs of YOUR garden in full bloom, with the chance of winning up the 3 FREE Flowercards to send to your family and friends if your garden really impresses our judges! We've extended the competition into August, to catch more flowers in full bloom, and we also opened it up to postal entries - not just email ones - to make it as easy as possible for everyone to send us their pictures.

How to Enter: Take a photograph of your garden. Try to get the best angle so we can see as much of the garden as possible.

Alongside your photograph, you also need to send us the answer to this tiebreak question: A Flowercard is so special because...

How to send your photograph and entry: If it's a digital photograph, please attach it to an email and send to talkingflowers@flowercard.co.uk, putting 'Summer Garden Competition' in the subject line of your email. Don't forget to include your name, address and daytime telephone number.

If it's a traditional printed photograph, please post it to Summer Garden Competition, FLOWERCARD (Dept A1009), PO Box 3000, Southampton, SO14 0ZW.

Closing date: August 25th. First prize: 3 Free Flowercards. Second prize: 2 Free Flowercards. Third prize: 1 Free Flowercard. Winning Flowercards can be sent at any time from September 2010 to September 2011, to arrive on those special dates. Winners will be announced in our September Flowercard Issue, where their photograph and name will be published. Please click this link for the full Terms and Conditions of our Summer Garden Competition.

Made with Love

Want to dress up that plain old vase to really match the petals on your fresh bouquet, or cleverly contrast the wallpaper in your room?

Creative craft blogger Jessica Jones has put together this simple, inspiring tutorial on how to make a pretty, fabric jacket for any straight vase or glass. What a great way to use up much-loved patches of fabric.

Read the full post at Jesicca's blog, How About Orange?

Coming Soon

Next month we'll look at the fragrant history of Lavender, as well as announce the winners of our Summer Garden Competition and September Flowercard People Award. Our florists will pass on their top tips for making your cut flowers last as long as possible, whilst our craft bloggers help you create beautiful drinks coasters from recycled magazines and cards!

If you enjoyed this edition of Talking Flowers, please tell your friends, maybe they'd like to sign up for the magazine too!