Spangler Subaru Blog

It’s that time of year when we load up the trunks of our Outbacks, Foresters, and Crosstreks with mulch, soil, trowels and cultivators, seeds, plants, and flowers. The sun enters stage east earlier and earlier every morning and exits stage west much later into the evening now, giving lawn and garden aficionados plenty of time to harvest that perfect summer yard. The hardest part of the job is not the actual digging, planting, and watering, but it is actually picking out which plants and flowers you want to place in your humble abodes.

This can be challenging at times, and without the basic, fundamental knowledge it can be a chore to determine what plants will be best for you. We, Spangler Subaru, are no botanists or scientists to any degree, but we do enjoy a bit of storytelling and finding meaning in things. We cannot tell you what plants attract which bugs or how often to water them, but we look for deep associations, and with hundreds of flowers to choose from why not study where they originate? The following are some brief backgrounds to how certain flowers got their names, all stemming from various mythologies and religions.

Lily – The lily has appeared throughout various myths and holds a relative significance in certain religions. The earliest associations with the flower can be traced back to Mesopotamia, where it represented Ishtar, the goddess of love, fertility, and war, who was also a virgin in certain stories. In Greek mythology, the lily most commonly was connected to Hera, and this was a representation of purity and innocence. In one story a lily sprouts from the milk of Hera as she is feeding Heracles (Hercules).

Among the imagery associations with the lily, the Virgin Mary is probably the most recurring, however. As we know, she gave birth to Jesus, and her role in this marks her purity upheld as a great symbol in current Christianity, shown most through the white lily. Poets such as William Blake and Shakespeare go on to include imagery when describing a pure love or the beautiful, untainted features of a person.

Anemone – The anemone was, unfortunately, named from a Greek tragedy, that of young Adonis. According to Ovid, Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, was accidentally clipped by an arrow from Eros (Cupid), her son, as she bent down to hug and greet him. She laid her eyes on Adonis and was taken with him immediately. Adonis was brave and bold, so Aphrodite felt the need to warn him of this propensity in order for him to avoid death in the future. To accomplish this, she tells him the story of Atalanta, a woman abandoned at childhood that possesses an unparalleled talent in running. The story in short is that Aphrodite helps Hippomenes win over Atalanta as his bride, but he refuses to thank her afterward. In retaliation, the goddess of beauty decides to turn both Hippomenes and Atalanta into lions.

Her call to awareness for Adonis was to beware of wild animals, but he was obstinate and refused to heed her warning. Instead, one day, he stumbles upon a wild boar and is unable to kill it, poking him a few times and upsetting him. The boar, in return, takes his life for his failure to complete his hunt. Aphrodite finds his lifeless body, and distraught, creates the anemone in remembrance and colors it a deep red using Adonis’s blood.

Mint – Mint was created in a similar way to the anemone, and its creation was also alluded to by Aphrodite in that story. Minthe was a river Naiad who was taken with the god of the underworld, Hades. She was planning on seducing him and having him as her own, but the underworld Queen Persephone had other plans and transformed her into a sweet smelling flower called mint. In accordance with death, uses of the flower would be used at funerals to, among other things, hide the odors of the corpse.

Heliotrope – If you have not already noticed, many of these stories dealt with love and mostly ended in tragedy of some sort. The heliotrope does not stray from this mold whatsoever, and to the delighted consorts of drama, this story involved a love triangle with unfortunate ends.

Klytie was a nymph romantically involved with Apollo for some time, offering her complete love and loyalty to him. Apollo, however, grew tired of her and moved on to a relationship with Leucothoe, who was a princess. A relationship may not be the correct terminology because Apollo had to disguise himself in order to gain entrance to Leucothoe’s bedchamber, but he was successful and she became enamored of him.

Nonetheless, Klytie became aware of the infidelity and, teeming with jealousy, she became very vocal about this inappropriate affair. Eventually word made its way to Leucothoe’s father, and out of rage and malice he buried his daughter alive. While mourning her loss, Apollo fertilized the mound of dirt on top of her and frankincense grew from it. Klytie, on the other hand, was consumed with grief and perched herself under the sun, staring at it for nine straight days until her body withered away. In its place, the heliotrope was born. In other versions Klytie’s face follows Apollo’s chariot across the sky every day, and the gods take pity on her, turning her into a sunflower.

Violet – The story of how the violet created is rather complex and gory at times. It involves an irrational love from Cybele towards her grandson Attis. Cybele was a goddess, and Zeus had it in mind that he would procreate with the Phrygian. She spurned his advances, but as was common for the great god, Zeus would eventually have his way. Nine months later Cybele birthed Agdistis, a hermaphrodite who was wild with evil and too uncontrollable for the gods of Olympus to handle. Therefore, they removed his male half and cast it aside in order to make him docile.

The remains fertilized the ground and an almond tree sprout up in place. A young woman named Nana passed by the tree one day and ate from its supply, fertilizing her and delivering a baby nine months later. This baby was called Attis. Nana, ostensibly, did not want the child and tried to expose him in order to kill him. Inexplicably Attis was resilient and survived this process, raised by shepherds from the area and became one of the most handsome men in the kingdom, so handsome that Cybele admired his aesthetic appeal, and fell in love with him.

When he became of age, Attis fell in love with a local King’s daughter and planned to marry her, but Cybele’s jealousy would eventually deter this from happening. She set a curse upon Attis, causing him to go mad and run throughout the hills in the region. He eventually came upon a pine tree, castrated himself, and ended up dying at that spot. The blood from his wounds would fertilize the ground and a violet would sprout.  

Narcissus – The last mythological story to share is that of the narcissus, also known as a daffodil. To many this one may be slightly more familiar because of its connections with the psychological term narcissism, which is derived from the main character’s overbearing trait that ultimately leads to his demise.

Narcissus was a hunter from Thespiae who was born with incredible physical features, so much that when his mother asked a sage when he was born if he would die old, the sage affirmed but only if he did not come to know himself. One day, in his teenage years, he was foraging in the woods when a young girl named Echo, who was cursed only to repeat the last words another person said, fell in love with his beauty and began following him. Narcissus, who spurned all advances from anyone, quickly ran from her, humiliating Echo and leaving her feeling rejected.

As he continued in the woods, he stumbled upon a well at Nemesis’s manipulation, where he saw the first and last reflection of himself. It was at this point Narcissus was struck with splendor’s sight, instantly falling in love with his image, yet was fooled because he did not know that was him. After some time he became weak, and he understood that the love of the boy he saw in the well went unrequited. As a tear drop fell into the well, distorting the reflection, Narcissus spit out a goodbye, which was then repeated by the spying Echo, before sticking his head into the earth, ending his own life. When a search group came to recover his body, they found a flower in the spot where his body was.

These stories go on to form some basis behind Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung’s works, so these can be foretelling in our own characteristics. No, we are not going to judge you because you have daffodils or perform psychoanalysis on you through your garden, but these can be telling and reveal mysterious aspects about us in some way. So, this list can always be some guide when you want to plant new flowers or remove old ones that, maybe, do not quite fit your personality. As always, we hope you enjoyed this list. Happy digging!

Categories: Green, Other

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