Flowers in the hand

August ~ Birth flower of the month ~ Poppy

Did you know the birth flowers for August are the Poppy and Gladiolus?

Hand holding flowers
The ​​Crate

How is it August already? As the months fly by and the weather transitions so does the landscape.

Did you know the birth flowers for August are the Poppy and Gladiolus?

The poppy, eye-catching in any scenery, has had many roles throughout the years from religious, medicinal, mythological, and political. Usually found blooming along roadside ditches and other humble places, these flowers have entranced poets and aided doctors in the treatment of their patients for centuries. 

According to recorded history, the poppy flower dates back to 2700 BC where it was grown and cultivated in the Mediterranean Basin for its medicinal and recreational use. The poppy can now be found all over the world and its pain-relieving abilities are the source from which morphine and codeine are extracted. 

Poppies also had an important role in ancient mythology, and can be found in Egyptian tombs dating back thousands of years. They are believed to have been associated with ancient Egyptian veneration of gods.  The Ancient Greeks regarded poppies as a source of fertility, health, and strength. Greek Athletes consumed a mixture of poppy seeds, honey, and wine to improve performance. In Greek mythology the poppy flower is associated with Morpheus, the god of sleep and dreams. In fact, the drug morphine, which is derived from poppies, is named after the Greek god, Morpheus. 

In Greek mythology the poppy flower is associated with Morpheus, the god of sleep and dreams.

Along with eternal sleep, the poppy has also signified remembrance and hope throughout history. During World War 1, a battle transpired in Flanders which is located in France. After the fighting stopped, and shallow graves held the bodies of hundreds of soldiers, red poppies began to flower in mass amounts in the freshly upturned soil. This inspired one of the most famous poems of the era, titled “In Flanders Field.” 

Today, poppies bear a message of peace with an underlying sentiment of soldier’s sacrifice as they tend to grow on war-torn fields. People wear the red poppy every Remembrance/Armistice Day (November 11) in the UK and Canada and on Memorial Day (May 30) in the United States to honour the fallen soldiers. The species of this particular poppy flower is known as “red corn poppy” otherwise known as the “common poppy.” 

Flowers in a drawer
The Crate​​

The Gladiolus similarly has a long history. According to legend, in Ancient Rome gladiators who won in battles received the flower as a symbol of their strong sense of character, honour, and victory. This association with gladiators and their strength of character illustrates the symbolism of the Gladiolus. 

In other countries, the flower represents freedom. In the course of the final years of the soviet union, the three Baltic states: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia organised a political demonstration in which 2 million people formed a human chain. That day planes flew above and threw gladiolas on the road as a symbol of peaceful resistance and freedom. Contrastingly, in China the gladiolus is a common funeral flower.

The word Gladiolus comes from the Latin word gladius which means “little sword”, this can be attributed to the sword-like shape and appearance of the plant’s leaves and flower spikes. Additionally, the name xiphium also refers to a gladioli flower. It comes from the Greek word xiphios which too means “sword.” 

The gladioli originated in Africa and Asia, later being introduced to Europe during the mid 1700s by travellers following the Indian Trade Route. The Dutch and English trade ships were coming back from India when they stopped for food and water at the place which we now know as Cape Town. Shortly after, European botanists and hobbyists began to grow and breed the flowers. 

By 1806 William Herbert produced the first hybrid and by 1850, hundreds of varieties of gladiolus had been bred. The gladiolus now consists of up to 260 species encompassing all the colours of the rainbow. Individual blooms may be a solid colour or bi-colours and run the spectrum of shades of pink, red, purple, yellow, orange, white, and green. Each colour has a different meaning; red portraying love and passion (as red usually does), pink symbolising femininity, compassion, and motherly love, white is innocence and purity, Orange expresses sensual love, yellow being cheerfulness and compassion, and purple personifying charm, grace and mysteriousness.

Fun fact - although the British botanist William Herbert was the first to hybridise gladiolus flowers and produce many new species, he did not manage to cultivate them and none of the flowers survived.

If you give gladiolus to a person you’re in love with, you are sending the message “you’ve pierced my heart”. This symbolism comes from the flower’s form shaped like a sword.

Single Bunch
Double Bunch

August is the season of the Leo running from July 23 until August 22. Bold, intelligent, warm, and courageous, the fire sign Leo is a natural leader of the Zodiac. Gifted with high self-esteem, Leos know that they possess desirable characteristics and are proud of them. They are passionate in all pursuits including relationships, and take it upon themselves to be the best partner you've ever had. They love grand gestures, and they want to show the world how attentive and caring they can be.

The flower most often affiliated with Leos is the sunflower. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, all it takes is a glance at one of their enormous, fiery coloured blooms to see the resemblance to Leos ruling planet, the Sun. Additionally, Leos tend to see themselves as the leader of the pack and sunflowers tower over the rest of almost any landscape, matching Leo's oversized personality. In many cultures globally, sunflowers are symbols of optimism and intelligence, two traits that are also typical of Leos.

The Sunflower’s Message Is… Stand tall and follow your dreams. Focus on what’s positive in your life and don’t let anyone get you down.

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