Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The Floral Birthday Book
I've wanted this book for five years now, but it's out of print - and not to be found in the used-book stores, thrift shops, yard sales or even church rummage swaps of three different countries. So I bit the bullet and ordered it from a third-party seller on Amazon.
And while that lacked the thrill of finding a fifty-cent copy of the book at a flea market, which happened with Dean Koontz's out-of-print How to Write Best Selling Fiction, I was too happy to care. The Floral Birthday Book, illustrated by artist Bernard Carter, is a wonderful addition to my library.
I've always loved the Victorian language of flowers, partly because it's not all pretty. Some flowers represent love and passion and constancy, but others stand for grief, rejection and deceit. And Bernard Carter's book is a faithful reproduction of an earlier Victorian text, where each day of the year is assigned a flower, a characteristic embodied by that flower and a short piece of classical poetry.
The paintings of the flowers are not just detailed, they're realistic as well. My favorite is the dragonfly alighting on the water lily. Though one of my friends looked up her birth flower and it turned out to be gorse. I read out the part about gorse symbolizing enduring affection, but she just looked disappointed. "I got a weed?" she said.
Good thing she wasn't born on December 5. That has a painting of "Withered Leaves", which would probably have been even less delightful than the "weed".
As well as being fun to look at and read, this book is a great icebreaker - everyone wants to find out what their flower is, and what it means. So if you have any special days, let me know in the comments and I'll reply with the flower and its meaning.
This one is for dldzioba, though the fine print didn't show up too well in the scan. Click on the pictures to take a closer look or read the poems.
The flower is the globe amaranth, which means Unchangeable.
And for Neutral Fire's birthday...
That's the Cluster Rose, which means You are Charming. :)