The delicate blue flowers of Forget-Me-Not are holding their own among the strong, wiry stalks of Sweet William in Glasshouse No. 5. Both species (Myosotis scorpiodes and Dianthus barbatus) fit well into our Victorian setting. Much has been written about the symbolism of Forget-Me-Not, stretching back to Medieval times. It is associated with King Henry IV who is said to have adopted the flower as his symbol while in exile from England in 1398.
The common name, derived from the German word Vergissmeinnicht, lends itself to associations with remembrance and romantic love but the botanical name Myosotis comes from the Greek word for “mouse’s ear”, which the foliage is said to resemble. More incongruously, it is sometimes referred to as “scorpion grass”, as the stalks were said to resemble a scorpion’s tail.
Forget-Me-Nots are great self-seeders, to the extent that some varieties can be considered invasive. The seeds can be easily collected too, by placing a sheet of paper under the stems and gently shaking the tulip shaped pods that contain them.
It is a hardy plant that likes moist soil and partial shade. They begin flowering in spring and throughout the summer, attracting bees and butterflies. In the evening and nightime, when it releases its fragrance, it attracts pollinating moths.
The American poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau, a lover of all things simple and natural, wrote that the plant “is more beautiful for being small and unpretending: even flowers must be modest.” We have less modest plants in the Victorian Working Garden – grand Aeoniums, majestic Hollyhock and showy, double Fuschia. But there is also a place for the simple, old-fashioned flowers like Sweet William, Sweet Pea and Forget-me-Not.
All photographs copyright Fotaframeyardblog.com