Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcoming Spring with Amy Brecount White


Welcoming Spring 

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By Amy Brecount White & Gabrielle Carolina

Signs of spring in the U.S. are popping up through the frozen ground.  In my yard, I have witch hazel, snowdrops, and crocuses in bloom already.  The forsythia looks like it will open any day and so does my red camellia.  I can’t wait to make a tussie-mussie for someone I love!
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A tussie-mussie is a symbolic Victorian bouquet that uses the language of flowers.  In the language, each flower, herb, bush, or tree has a secret meaning.  For example, rosemary is for remembrance and cedar is for strength.  Lots of the flower meanings can be traced back to Greek mythology, heraldry, and Shakespeare.  In my novel, my main character, Laurel, discovers that whenever she gives someone a flower or herb, its meaning comes true.  She can make people fall in love or remember something they forgot, among other things.  It’s a wonderful and sometimes vexing power.
When you make a tussie-mussie, be sure to include a small card to “translate” the meaning of each flower or herb.  You might say, “I included fern, because I find you fascinating.” Or, “I included orange crocuses to bring you mirth.”  Such a unique gift into which you clearly poured your thoughts, time, and energy is sure to make someone smile for days.  I always try to use as many seasonal herbs and flowers I can from my own garden.
Here are some commonly-found spring flowers and their meanings in the language:

Orange crocus mirth
Red camellia unpretending excellence
White camellia perfected loveliness
Rosemary remembrance 
Forsythia anticipation
Fern fascination
Snowdrop hope
Red tulip declare love
White tulip ask forgiveness
Yellow tulip friendship
Pansies Thoughts of you
Hyacinth Sport, games, play
You might also want to include some herbs from the produce aisle if they’re not up yet:  fennel (worthy of all praise), parsley (for the feast of life), mint (virtue), and sweet basil (best wishes.) 



To make a tussie-mussie, simply arrange the flowers and herbs you’ve chosen into a small bouquet in your hand.  Be sure to include some herbs, because they make the bouquet so fragrant.  Trim the stems to even them out and then wrap them together with floral tape or a rubber band.  I cut a hole into a doily and add that or a ribbon to complete the look.  Here’s what one of mine from last fall looks like: 
I have made tussie-mussies for school visits, for garden club meetings, book clubs, and at the Philadelphia Flower Show.  It’s always wonderful to see a smile bloom on someone’s face.  
Happy spring!!  And thanks so much for hosting me, Gabrielle!

You are so welcome, Amy! 

Well, I'm not sure I can follow up with anything half as awesome as that look into a springtime Tussie, but I will try! 

Spring Names in Bloom by Gabrielle Carolina:

Nature Names are a flourishing group, pardon the pun, chock-full of brilliant blooms and emerging new choices, the likes of which you can see in any garden, and now, in almost every nursery! Shall we begin with the names of the top 1,000? 

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Lily was the most popular blossom in 2009 and I can see why! 


Lily was a favorite when I was younger, it is delicate, graceful, a bit vintage and completely accessible to modern-day namers. If you are wondering about the nature of the name, know that Lily of the Valley signifies the Return of Happiness, White Lilies are for purity and sweetness and Orange Lilies are a symbol of coquetry. For all of you who love Lily, but fear it's popularity, I offer you the following list of Lily-based names. Lillian, Lilja, Lilias, Liliane, Lilika and Lilou. 





Jasmine rolled in at number 51, no doubt influenced by the sweet and sassy Princess Jasmine of the Disney film, still influencing today's mommies. Jasmine is for Amiability and the preferred British variant Jessamine is just as fresh and floral, if not more so!
Violet enters the charts at 141, it's steady climb is no doubt influenced by one of America's youngest celebrity-sweethearts, Miss Violet Affleck. The variants of this flower name mean both Faithfulness (blue) and 'You occupy my thoughts' (purple). Violet's variants are some of the most interesting! If you fear Violet is becoming too trendy, try these on for size: Iolanthe, Jolanta, Yolanda, Violette, Violetta and the Shakespearean Viola. 

Daisy is 153, though some might be surprised by it's popularity, Daisy is popping up all over the place as a whimsy choice for new-mommies! Some may think it is a pet's name, or the moniker of the famous Driving Ms. Daisy, but would you be surprised to learn that Meg Ryan changed her adopted daughter's name from Charlotte, to Daisy, after a few days of living with her baby girl? Daisy for Innocence. 

Hazel is number 294 and still, for all intents and purposes, a bit undiscovered though more and more Vintage-loving couples are choosing the antique Hazel for their daughters. The french alternative is just as becoming, Aveline. 

Willow, Iris and Ivy are three of my favorite nature-inspired choices. Coming in at 315, 317 and 320 respectively, these fresh new 'I' heavy names are sure to keep climbing up the charts.  Iris is thought to mean Message, possibly in reference to God's message of a rainbow, given to His people after the mighty Biblical flooding of the entire Earth. Ivy vines could adorn a bride on her way down the aisle as it is a sign of fidelity in marriage. Willows, especially the weeping ones, are thought to foreshadow young death, or heavy grief; Desdemona sang of willows only hours before her unjust death in Shakespeare's Othello.

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Rose is the number one most popular middle name choice for baby girls in America. It just beats out Marie and Elizabeth. As for first names, Rose is surprisingly uncommon placing down the list at 352. Roses are the most popular flower to give to a lover and it is no surprise their meaning is love... as long as the petals are red, of course! Be careful who you give a yellow rose to for you would be telling them to back down! 

Holly peaked a while ago, in fact many authors bare this moniker in today's world of YA. Popular authors being Holly Black, Holly Cupala and Holly Schindler. Holly means foresight and is one of the merry boughs of Christmastide, often given to babies of December. Holly is name number 380. 

Dahlia is a very uncommon choice at 660. Dahlia would make a great choice for the floral-fancy folks who want their little blossom to stand out in the crowd. 

Rosemary has fallen back into favor as the 100-year rule comes into play. A fun fact: When I went through my inevitable, "I wish my name was" phase, around 8-years-old, I desperately wanted my name to be Mary Rose instead of Gabrielle Carolina. I still love the name and plan to use a Mary variant, as well as Rose for my own little blooms.

 Rosemary is for remembrance and I thought it would be interesting to include the name Mnemosyne, who was the goddess, or the Muse, of memory. Rosemary is less popular that just Rose coming in at 721; the most memorable bearer is Rosemary Clooney.

Literary Flower Names

What is better than a flower name? What about a flower name found in literature for the book-lover in you?

Well-known, interesting, distinct and fresh, these choices, and the works that carry them, would be a true gem for any bibliophile.

Azalea- Debut author Heather Dixon chose Azalea as her main character and the eldest of her sisters in her novel Entwined. 

Tumblr_krppa2a9lj1qa2eqeo1_400_largeBriar- Everyone knows the fairytale of Briar Rose, whose real name is Princess Aurora. 

Bryony- The sister of the MC in the epic novel Atonement. 

Calla- Andrea Cremer, who I recently met, put a lot of thought into her names, Calla's in particular, in her debut novel Nightshade. The name implies Calla Lily, a beautiful and delicate harbinger of death. 

Cassia- Cassia (prn. Cash-sha) is a name that symbolizes the Cinnamon bark of its tree. Ally Condie gave this virtually unknown name to her MC in her dystopian series beginning with Matched. 

Fern- Everyone knows Fern, the savior of Wilbur the pig in the classic children's book, Charlotte's Web. 

Jacinta- Jacinta was the distinctive choice of Sophie Jordan's MC, who just so happens to be a Draki, one of the remaining Dragons-On-Earth, in her YA debut Firelight. 

Laurel- The main character of Forget-Her-Nots, Amy Brecount White's MC who has Flower Power at her fingertips. 

Katniss- One of the most fearsome, and beloved, heroine's of all time in YA, Katniss Everdeen is the female protag of the epic series, The Hunger Games. Katniss was named for the root by her father; I predict a huge leap in this name! 

Marigold- Once Upon a Marigold and its fairytale sequel, Twice Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris make this moniker accessible. Magic For Marigold is one of Lucy Maud Lovelace's lesser-known novels.

Primrose- The more delicate sister of Katniss Everdeen, Primrose signifies youth and love blended together.

Tumblr_lcvx6mhdvb1qa2bguo1_500_largeRosalie- The vintage moniker of the most beautiful Vampire in YA, Rosalie Hale is helping this name to bound skyward on the SSA Popularity list. 

Rue- Rue is Katniss's most tragic loss while in the arena. The Rue flower is thought to symbolize young death. 

Zinnia- The youngest daughter of a huge family of Z names in Sharon Creech's Chasing Redbird, one of my favorite books, and names, of all time. 

And for the boysThe name Sage is infinitely more popular for girls than boys, coming in at 396 for girls and 761 for boys, but in light of Julie Kagawa's handsome triplicate of Nature-Name-Inspired Winter Princes, Sage may become a male favorite for readers of YA, after all, Sage for Esteem. 

Rowan, the name of a tree, is the 336th most popular name for boys and the 496th most popular girls name. The Ash tree is the third inspiration and my favorite of the Winter Prince's; Ash is not on the top 1,000, but in light of the growing popularity of the series we may see it hit the charts and hit them hard. I know Kagawa has me seriously considering the name as it would also honor my maiden name! 

Tumblr_li407zawie1qi0f87o1_500_largeUncommon Characters

Still searching for that elusive floral find? Try these on for size:

Delphine, Orchid, Poppy, Aster, Acacia, Saffron, Bluebell, Camellia, Cicely, Saffron and Lavender for girls.

Yarrow, Basil, and Aspen for boys.

Not quite floral

If you are uninterested in naming your child for a specific flower I would suggest these broader namesakes.

Fleur/Flora/Fiora (The Goddess of Flowers)

Plum, Blossom, Leif, Forest, Meadow, Olive, and Reid.

Sylvia- Means 'Woman from the Wood'

Adam- God gave Adam the responsibility to name every animal and plant. 

Eden- The greatest garden the world has ever seen.

Leilani- A Hawaiian name that means 'Heavenly Flower.'

And finally Ophelia who was given this fateful speech by Shakespeare:

Spring_awakening__by_lukreszja-d3bg7nk_large"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts," said Ophelia to her brother Laertes. "There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you, and here's some for me; we may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died." 


Happy Spring!


3 comments:

mfay2 said...

Just wanted to add that my last name is Flores and in English is Flowers. LOL Yeah, I'm not a fan of flowers and I don't know about them that much. Authors tend to mention types of flowers in books and sometimes I have to Google the flower. I don't have a favorite type, but if I would have to choose, it would be tulips.

Kelly said...

Great post! It's very unique and interesting. I had no idea Rose is the most common middle name for girls. I used to think if I had kids, I might give my daughter Rose as a middle name, but after reading this post, I've changed my mind on that (well, and I just don't like it as much as I used to). This must have taken a lot of thought and research to do. I love it!

Dayse Dantas said...

My name is Dayse, which is a cute way to spell Daisy. And yes, daisies are my favorite flowers. I know, I'm a cliche. But it's like Meg Ryan said in You Got Mail: they are so friendly!
anyway, I NEED MONEY IN MY LIFE so I can buy Forget-Her-Nots. This book needs to be in my heart and soul, right now.