Slow and Seasonal Living in the Flower Moon
Today, Thursday, April 20, 2023, marks the beginning of May’s full moon lunar cycle, the Flower Moon, which reaches its peak on Friday, May 5, 2023. It was named by the Ojibwe tribes of the Great Lakes for its timing, rising when flowers are beginning to bloom and blossom across the Northern Hemisphere. The Flower Moon is considered a sign of health and rejuvenation because many medicinal herbs grow during this time too. For many of us the Flower Moon is, quite fittingly, also the time when the last frosts have passed, and we can direct sow seeds and plant out our seedlings. As a flower and herb gardener born in the month of May, this moon speaks to my heart like no other.
Though Flower Moon is the name most widely used for this second full moon of the spring season, it is called many other names as well. Native American tribes, including the Cree Nation and the Algonquins, refer to it as the Frog Moon because it symbolizes the time of year when the frogs begin singing, or the Corn Planting Moon, marking the time when corn can be planted. It is also called the Milk Moon, coinciding with the blooming of milkweed, or the Full Milk Moon, a name given in medieval Europe because it occurs near the first of May, or Beltane, when the cows are moved to their summer pastures. Yet others call it the Budding Moon, Big Leaf Moon, or Month of Flowers to celebrate the awakening of local flora. Regardless of what you call this second moon of the spring, the theme rings clear. They represent a simpler time and a slower lifestyle more attuned to the seasons. They recognize the gentle subtleties of the spring season and seeing the goodness around us.
The Power of Flowers
“Even more important than what she gave her garden was what it gave her. In it, she found a sense of calm.” – Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale
Some of my earliest memories as a little girl involved flowers. From running through a sea of dandelions at the park near my childhood home to my late grandmother walking me around her backyard, with my skinned knees and pigtails, showing me how beautiful it was to grow things, these floral memories are some of my fondest and are a testament to the power of flowers.
The Flower Moon is a symbol of growth, renewal, and transformation, encouraging us to seek balance and harmony in our lives by surrounding ourselves with natural elements. It encourages us to slow down and appreciate the natural beauty surrounding us right here and now. During the Flower Moon, the world truly awakens. May we feel it, appreciate it, and grow from it.
Flowers have the power to ignite all our senses! Blooms are visually appealing, their sweet fragrances traveling through the breeze, their interesting textures between your fingers as you harvest, while pollinator buzz by and birdsong can be heard above you. A flower and herb gardener can even be caught taste testing the many edible varieties they grow to garnish their summer salads, brighten baked goods, and muddle into mixed drinks.
Flowers have been proven to positively impact physical and mental health. They reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and many have medicinal properties. They are known to create a sense of tranquility and harmony. The act of giving flowers also evokes strong feelings of joy, gratitude and happiness both to the recipient as well as the gift giver. Sharing flowers from my garden, that I grew from seed, is quite possibly my favorite part of the entire flower growing experience. This year, my garden gifted me the opportunity to share its bounty over 70 times. That’s 70 times someone felt loved because of flowers. What a gift it has been and continues to be.
Flowers are also an important part of our ecosystem, providing food and habitat for many insects and animals. They also play a role in pollination, which is essential for the reproduction of many plant species. I have what is commonly referred to as a pollinator garden, overflowing with an abundance of colorful and fragrant organic flowers and herbs that attract and feed pollinators such as honeybees, native bees, moths and butterflies. When I harvest, I make sure to always leave plenty of blooms to keep them busy and happy. Yesterday, we watched countless butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, bees, robins, chickadees, and a pair of Stellar Jays visit the garden. Our property is humming with life from dawn to dusk like never before, and I feel as though my husband and I are doing our part to support and protect pollinators and help maintain their genetic diversity within our population.
History and Floriography
“Say it with flowers.” – Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Flowers are more powerful than we give them credit for. In fact, flowers and herbs alike have a rich history of power, symbolism, and strength. During the Victorian era (1837-1901), flowers were often used to convey secret messages, emotions, and sentiments between lovers, friends, and family members. Flowers were silent messengers, conveying messages they wouldn’t dare be spoken aloud. They were discreetly left on doorsteps, held in portraits, and arranged on tabletops during holidays and special events for good luck. Their subtle presence can be found in famous paintings, poetry, literature, fashion, and even Shakespearian plays. Today, floriography is reemerging as gardening becomes increasingly popular and plants are being recognized for their mental and emotional impacts. If you are interested in learning more about the meaning of flowers, I invite you to preorder my book, The Love Language of Flowers. It is an exquisite guide to all things botanical, where floriography and slow botanical styling entwine with traditional flower arranging. It contains step-by-step instructions for creating impactful, yet achievable botanical arrangements infused with vintage meaning, floral poetry, and lore, several floriography glossaries, and much more. Learn more here.
Floriography of Flower Moon Flora
“Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth’s lips spoken without sound.” – Edwin Curran
While not an exhaustive list, below are some common botanicals that grow during the Flower Moon, along with their botanical meanings:
Anemone – truth
Azalea – fragility, passion, temperance
Clematis – mental beauty
Delphinium –happiness, levity
Freesia – lasting friendship
Fuchsia – humble love
Gardenia – refinement
Geranium – friendship (oak leaf), preference (pink), comfort (scarlet), gracefulness, protection (white)
Heather – protection
Hollyhock – ambition
Hyacinth – constancy (blue), forgiveness (purple), beauty, unobtrusive loveliness (white)
Iris – message
Jasmine – elegance, gracefulness (yellow), amiability (white)
Lilac – first emotions of love
Lilly of the Valley – healing heartbreak, return of happiness
Magnolia – dignity
Orchid – refined beauty
Pansy – think of me
Peony – bashfulness, bravery, secrecy
Phlox – agreement, harmony, unity, partnership
Poppy – extravagance, peace
Sweet Pea – blissful pleasure, delicate pleasure
Violet – filled with love (purple), virtue (African)
A Time to Honor Nature
The Flower Moon, in all its botanical glory, is the perfect opportunity to quiet your mind and listen to your heart. To make a conscious effort to step away from the busyness of your daily life and honor the beauty of nature and the arrival of spring. This may be different for everyone. For some, it may be taking a walk in the woods. For others, it may be spending time in their garden. Perhaps it is doing yard work, hiking your favorite mountain, going fishing, or spending time with your children outside. Regardless of how you do it, I invite you to join me in connecting with nature in the weeks to come.
A Time for Growth
“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” – Alfred Austin
Is there any better way to feel connected to the earth then to grow a flower garden? You give it time, patience, energy, and attention, and in return, it gives you buckets full of blooms and a place to turn your thoughts. With this in mind, I challenge you to plant a flower seed and grow with me. Begin by choosing a few flowers from the list above with a meaning that speaks to you and enjoy a visit to your local nursery or online seed supplier to pick up seed packets. As you sow each seed, focus on how the germination process can inspire you to reach for the light from darkness you may be experiencing. (If you need guidance on growing from seed, I invite you to visit my online journal at cedarhouseliving.com for seed starting articles.) While you nurture your tiny seedlings into robust plants, reflect on your progress and think about where you will plant your seedling out to enjoy throughout the summer. When your flowers begin to bloom, let the energy of the Flower Moon bring forth your own creative energy, and consider how you can use the blooms you’ve grown in your home or for crafting purposes. Alternatively, create an arrangement with these meaningful blooms to gift to someone you care about. (If you need inspiration, my online journal has several botanical DIYs and tutorials to feed your creative soul or order The Love Language of Flowers.)
During the month of May, open your mind to the idea that you will grow alongside your flowers, releasing what is no longer serving you in your life and opening yourself to new possibilities and opportunities. Who knows, this may be the blossoming of a beautiful new chapter in your life. Happy growing, friends.
This article has also been published by Nabalo.
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