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Floral Folklore: The Story Behind Some of Our Favorite Spring Flowers

From Greek myths to currency, flowers have always been symbolic of something bigger than meets the eye.

The most beautiful spring flowers usually come with a story. Below, we spotlight some of our favorite blooms and the floral folklore surrounding them.

Photo: Klaus Henkel/Flickr

Daffodils

Daffodils rising through the frost are a quintessential spring sight. Though their biological name is Narcissus – an allusion to the Greek mythological figure who fell in love with his own reflection– daffodils are anything but ostentatious; all you need is a few bright specimens to add a colorful punch. There’s an old Welsh legend that if you’re the first to spot the early daffodils of the season, you’ll be rewarded by a year of good luck.

Photo: Andreana Bitsis

Tulips

There was once a time when a single tulip bulb cost more than the average European made in a year. Originally cultivated in the middle east, the tulip entered Western consciousness in the 16th century, sparking a speculative frenzy historians have deemed “Tulipomania” (the bulbs were even used as currency). Fortunately, you don’t have to be a multimillionaire to enjoy tulips in modern times: the vivacious flowers grow in pretty much any soil with good drainage, and comprise a colorful cast of characters. From the puckered Parrot varieties to the iconic Red Emperor, every tulip has a unique personality– a flavor for every taste.

Hellebores

This early-blooming shade plant is often referred to as “Lenten Rose” (it’s not a rose, though – it belong to the buttercup family). The lotus-like petals form delicate saucers of white, yellow, and maroon, and for those hesitant to cultivate them for fear of hungry deer, have no fear: Hellebores flowers are deer resistant (or so rumor suggests) and hardy enough to withstand Spring’s finicky shifts in temperature.

Gypsophila (“Baby’s Breath”)

A European native long since naturalized in the United States, baby’s breath is known in latin as gypsophilia, or the “gypsum-loving” plant – but you don’t need to have gypsum-rich soil to grow it. As an annual, Gypsophilia can withstand periods of short-term drought (which is good for the summertime), but may also be grown as a perennial in sandy soil. Dainty but resistant, baby’s breath is a beautiful, aromatic flower that begs to be put in a bouquet.

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