Sunday, June 16, 2019

Flowers, Art, and Writing, by Michele Weber Hurwitz

It seems there's a month or day to commemorate everything now, and June is no different. It's National Rose Month! The rose is one of the oldest known flowers -- rose fossils discovered in Colorado date back 35 million years. Ancient Romans used roses as room decorations and wore the flowers as necklaces.

In reading many interesting facts about roses -- such as the world's most expensive rose took 15 years to breed and cost 5 million dollars -- I started thinking about flowers in relation to art and writing. A red rose is often used to symbolize love and passion, but many other flowers have meanings and significance as well.

The mistletoe, of course, is synonymous with Christmas kisses (remember Harry Potter's and Cho's sweet kiss under the mistletoe?). Mums, the national symbol of Japan, are said to represent a long life. The white daisy symbolizes innocence, and the forget-me-not flower was supposedly named for the last words of a young man who fell into a river and drowned while picking these flowers for his lover. Maybe that legend isn't quite right for a middle grade story!

Flowers make great character names, too. Think of all the ones J.K. Rowling used in the Harry Potter series: Petunia Dursley, Lily Potter, Pansy Parkinson, Moaning Myrtle, and Lavender Brown. She even used the French name for flower with Fleur Delacour.

Suzanne Collins used two flower names for characters in The Hunger Games -- Primrose and Katniss (a real plant), and of course, how can we forget Chrysanthemum, the title character in Kevin Henkes' picture book?

Many writers like to use flowers for inspiration as they work. I plant annuals just outside the window of my writing space, and an author friend of mine hung her children's floral paintings over her desk.

A Rutgers University study found that flowers create a feeling of happiness and well-being and can also improve memory, which is sometimes very much needed during intense manuscript revisions!

I love this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The earth laughs in flowers." They certainly lift my spirits and change my frame of mind.

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of several middle grade novels, from Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. Find her online at micheleweberhurwitz.com.

3 comments:

  1. What an interesting min-lesson on flowers in literature. Thanks Michele.

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  2. "The earth laughts in flowers" - what a wonderful line. And right now here in Colorado the peonies are in bloom, and they may be my favorite flowers of all. Thanks for this post!

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