The very memorable forget-me-not
The forget-me-not is a British native wildflower that is also popular in gardens, often mixing well in borders with tulips as it flowers through the same period from late March, through April into early May. The evocative name comes from the legend of a romantic tragedy.
The scientific name for the forget-me-not, Myosotis, comes from the Greek word meaning 'mouse’s ear', as its soft slightly hairy little green leaves are said to resemble those of a mouse's ears! This genus consists of approximately 200 species, and there are forget-me-nots in many different colours, from pink to white, to orange. However they are most commonly associated with bright blue little flowers with yolk-yellow centres. They are biennial plants ie they develop in one year and flower in the next.
Called 'forget me not' in various native languages throughout Europe, legend has it that a knight, walking with his sweetheart, bent to pick a posy of the flowers for her from a river bank with tragic consequences. He slipped into the fast moving water and his heavy armour dragged him under. At the last moment, he tossed the flowers to the maiden, crying 'Forget me not!' and she is said to have worn them forever afterwards in her hair in memory of him.
Henry of Lancaster, who was removed from the realm in 1398, adopted the forget-me-not as a symbol whilst in exile in Europe. He returned in 1399, and was eventually crowned King Henry IV of England.
In Somerset, it was believed that wearing the forget-me-not was protection against witches, especially during the month of May. It was the custom to present someone embarking on a journey with the flower. It was also said that its juice would enhance the sharpness of a steel blade so that it could cut through stone.
Though a woodland plant, the forget-me-not seems to cope reasonably well with sunny spots, as well as shade, and is a trouble-free addition to any garden.
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