These bright little flowers we all know as forget-me-nots are also called Myosotis, which is Greek for mouse’s ear. Apparently the leaves reminded people of the ears of mice. There are around two hundred different species of them and the flowers can be pink or white. They are a useful food source for Lepidoptera larvae.
According to German folklore, a knight and his lady love were strolling by the Danube when she saw a pretty blue flower in the river which she desired. Bound by the rules of chivalry the knight dived in and retrieved the flower, as he handed it to her the weight of his armour dragged him to a watery grave; his final words were, “Vergiss mein nicht!” – Forget me not! One can only hope that the lady in question appreciated the gesture.
Having such an obvious message in its name, it has been used as a symbol by European Freemasons to remember the poor and later their own victims of the Nazi regime. It was also adopted by Henry IV of England during his exile by Richard II. It was said that after the battle of Waterloo, the field was covered with forget-me-nots growing from the blood of the slain. The oppressed Victorians used nosegays to express feelings that could not be uttered out loud, so a posy of forget-me-nots presented to a lover could mean “Don’t forget you promised to meet me tonight.”
The Victorian Pre-Raphaelite artist, Sir John Everett Millais depicted the drowned Ophelia of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with a garland of violets around her neck symbolising faithfulness and the forget-me-nots in the painting speak for themselves. Another lesson of the dangers of messing about with flowers near water.
There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weedsClambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,When down her weedy trophies and herselfFell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,And mermaid-like a while they bore her up,Which time she chanted snatches of old laudsAs one incapable of her own distress,Or like a creature native and induedUnto that element.
I shall wrap up the Blue Bloomers series now, but shall leave you with a photo montage of the best of the rest.