Flowers. They are always mentioned in books, right? Whether they are a metaphor for the transient nature of life, or for resilience, or else portrayed in a more traditional way as indicating someone’s feelings or emotions, they are the writer’s favourite motif.
In one of my books, they represent something sinister–a kind of veiled threat, when Cressida received dead flowers from an unknown source. But flowers have been written about for centuries by some of the world’s greatest authors.
Do you recognise all of these quotations? There’s no prize, but you can feel very proud of yourself if you do! Hopefully after reading a few of these, you’ll feel as though you’ve had tea in the garden on a sunny afternoon.
“If a kiss could be seen I think it would look like a violet.”
L. M. Montgomery: Anne Of Avonlea
″‘Really, there’s nothing to see.’ Nothing… only this: a great lawn where flowerbeds bloomed…”
Philippa Pearce: Tom’s Midnight Garden
“How extraordinary flowers are… People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”
Iris Murdoch: A Fairly Honourable Defeat
“A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”
Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass
“In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.”
Okakura Kakuzo: The Book of Tea
“Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.”
William Wordsworth: Lines Written in Early Spring
“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
“All day in grey rain
hollyhocks follow the sun’s
Basho (translated by Harry Behn)
“Have you blossoms and books, those solaces of sorrow?”
Emily Dickinson: Letters
“All the men send you orchids because they’re expensive and they know that you know they are. But I always kind of think they’re cheap, don’t you, just because they’re expensive. Like telling someone how much you paid for something to show off.”
Winifred Watson: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
“You can see the goldenrod, that most tenacious and pernicious and beauteous of all New England flora, bowing away from the wind like a great and silent congregation.”
Stephen King: Salem’s Lot
“And over walls and earth and trees and swinging sprays and tendrils the fair green veil of tender little leaves had crept, and in the grass under the trees and the gray urns in the alcoves and here and there everywhere were touches or splashes of gold and purple and white and the trees were showing pink and snow above his head and there were fluttering of wings and faint sweet pipes and humming and scents and scents.”
Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden
“There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion-flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
She is coming, my life, my fate.
The red rose cries, “She is near, she is near;”
And the white rose weeps, “She is late;”
The larkspur listens, “I hear, I hear;”
And the lily whispers, “I wait.”
Alfred Tennyson: Maud Part 1