Shy, dainty, and smelling wonderful. The Lily of the Valley is a wonderful flower for a bride's bouquet and in the Victorian language of flowers, supposedly symbolises the return of happiness, sweetness and a feeling of contentment.
In an age dominated by youth-worship, it's occasionally nice to know that, old(er) as you are, all is not lost. You're not a dessicated husk waiting for death simply because you've passed forty. Or fifty. Or older. Age brings experience, experience often brings poise, and confidence. I think John Donne says it well:
“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”
I love these clematis seedheads - the flowers were yellow and pretty, but somehow, I like these even more. The common clematis which scrambles around the hedgerows calls these 'Old Man's Beard' and it brought to mind the idea of growing old with the person you love. And that led to the classic poem below by W B Yeats:
When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face; And bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled And paced upon the mountains overhead And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
Autumn is the season for reflection and romance - and my favourite season of them all. I love this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, slightly melancholic, but with hope at the close.
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
Florists, mindful of sales, may suggest that the tulip's black velvety black centre represents a lover's heart, darkened by passion...
Lavender is one of my favourite flowers - the bees love it, the colour is intense, it's a wonderful herb and the smell is just so evocative of summer.