Here is a charming antique St. Patrick’s Day postcard of an old-fashioned Irish couple dancing to an old Irish jig called “St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning.” I’ve included a nice musical clip, so now there is no excuse for you to not get up and dance a jig yourself.
Although this diy article on window gardening is over 100 years old, the advice still holds value to anyone who would have a traditional Victorian style window garden. Originally published in the May 4th, 1895 issue of Home Chat magazine, a digest-sized publication that would have set you back a penny. But for you, it’s free.
Hints on Window Gardening
Window gardening may now be carried out so very inexpensively, that it is a matter for surprise that a greater number of people do not dabble a little in this way to brighten their surroundings, and give pleasure, not only to their own home circle and to callers, but to the unknown passerby.
The most rudimentary knowledge of carpentering is enough to enable anyone to make a window-box, which may be covered with Virginia cork for a trifle; while any ironmonger will supply, for a few shillings a proper window-box, made of trellis-work, and lined, if desired, with a separate box of wood. When pots are used, however, the inner box is not required–and here I may mention the really beautiful art pots, that may be obtained at any of the large stores for about eighteenpence each. Five of these will generally suffice for any window.
It is well to have them of different colours–say one red, one blue, two yellow, and one brown, or one green in place of one of the yellow. Of course, individual tastes may be exercised, but the colours mentioned are always suitable.
The cherry-tree, as it is called, with its bright berries, is admirable for the window. Ribbon ferns, that have been kept indoors all the winter, may now be placed in the box. But you should, by this time, have a good show of bulbous flowers, that will flourish a feast of colour until the middle of May. Nothing is more lovely than a box of tulips of all colours, of which, perhaps, the red and the golden are the most st ricking, with a border of dwarf-hyacinths, or crocuses. Or you may fill the box with narcissi, jonquils, and hyacinths, to last until May is out, while daffodils of all kinds, both single and double, will flourish when potted. The pots I have mentioned are not to be filled with soil, but used as receptacles for the ordinary pots, which must be a little smaller in size. None of the flowers named require forcing; they can be grown in a living room or little conservatory, and may be interspersed with dwarf ferns, or other foliage.
The beautiful arum lilies may be placed safely out of doors at the end of April; if in pots, they may be carried indoors on cool evenings, but in sheltered situations, with a south aspect, this is not necessary. Soloman’s seal is a plant I should like to see used more largely for the window. It is singularly pretty and unique, and will thrive in any shady spot. It is a real pleasure to watch its graceful growth, and sweet, simple flowers. Needless, perhaps, to add, it should be used as a background to flowers of brighter colour and more dwarf habit. In my next I shall mention the plants that should follow in succession to the bulbs.
A lovely Easter poem that conjures up images of Easter flowers and the birds of spring. With a lovely vintage Easter illustration that you may use as free clip art.
From Harper’s Young People, March 20, 1894
When Easter comes the violets lift
Their shyly hooded faces.
Where late the frozen snows adrift
Heaped high the woodland spaces.
When Easter comes the sunbeams dance
On green leaves all aquiver,
And grasses rally, spear and lance,
By rippling brook and river.
When Easter comes the lilies haste
What time the bells are ringing,
To bring their perfumes, pure and chaste,
From hallowed censers swinging.
Shine dim church aisles on Easter day
Beneath their serried whiteness,
And happy children kneel and pray
Amid the lilied brightness.
When Easter comes, a merry train,
The robin, wren, and starling,
With song and wing are here again,
And many another darling.
The bluebird and the oriole,
The martin and the swallow,
“Away,” they chant, “with grief and dole,
Here’s spring, and summer ‘ll follow!”
When Easter comes, when Easter comes,
Then winter’s spell is over!
Erelong we’ll hear the elfin drums
Where bees are deep in clover.
After we catch the swaying lilt
Of winds among the daisies,
And see the rosecups’ sweetness spilt
Among the garden mazes.
When Easter comes, ah! happy day,
E’en tears like dewdrops glisten,
And songs climb up the heavenward way
While angels bend to listen.
For love and life and joy untold
Are in the age-long story
That spells itself on harps of gold,
And thrills with endless glory.
The Victorians spoke the language of flowers, as they were instructed in the various popular publications of the day. One such book, The Language of Flowers, which expressed the meanings and symbols of flowers so eloquently, was published in 1846.
Below you’ll find an excerpt from this poetical resource of flower symbolism. The author, known only as “J.S.A.” gathered up the meanings of various flowers and coupled them with relevant quotes and poetry from literary sources.
Language of Flowers
We love the flowers. Not only do they please the eye, and gratify the sense, but to one of a reflective turn of mind they are the dispensers of instruction. Flowers add a charm to domestic life which nothing else can impart. What high encomiums have been lavishingly bestowed upon “vine-clad cottages”! and how often in our readings do we find notice taken of some beautiful geranium that sheds its sweet fragrance around the room!
After a dreary winter, with what pleasure we hail the little primrose, that, peering above the ground, whispers of the coming spring, telling us that Winter’s reign is over, that the time of flowers has come, and that Flora will soon hold her jubilee on earth! And as spring advances and retires, followed by summer, that season which more fully displays the beauties of Flora’s kingdom, with what light and joyous hearts we walk amid those beauties, watch the unfolding leaf, or gather to ourselves those gems with which the Queen of Flowers delights to deck her crown!
Flowers are the smiles of nature, and earth would seem a desert without them. How profuse is nature in the bestowment of her smiles! They are seen on every hill-side and in every valley; they cheer the traveler on his public way, and the hermit in his seclusion. Wherever the light of day reaches, you will find them, and none so poor they cannot possess them. They grew first in Paradise, and bring to our view more vividly than any thing else the beauties of Eden.
It is no new thing to attach sentiments to flowers. In Eastern lands, flowers have a language which all understand. It is that “still small voice” which is powerful on account of its silence. “It is one of the chief amusements of the Greek girls to drop these symbols of their esteem or scorn upon the various passengers who pass their latticed windows.” And the traveler can read upon Egyptian rocks accounts of the conquests of that ancient people, recorded by foreign plants.
The name which we have chosen for this little volume we deem most appropriate for a work of this kind. As long as sentiments have been attached to flowers, so long has Flora has kept an Album on the pages of which she has faithfully inscribed them We do not profess to have found this Album, as books have been found, on the dusty shelves of old and neglected libraries; but we found scattered here and there, leaves, which by the sentiments inscribed upon them we felt assured rightly belonged to such a work. We therefore collected them; and, when they were collected, we found we had in our possession a complete copy of “Flora’s Album.”
With these few words we introduce this volume to your notice, and trust that our endeavors to please will meet the approbation of the public.
J. B. A.
October 1st, 1846.
LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS.
Acacia, Yellow: means Concealed Love
“The acacia waves her yellow hair.” – Moore.
No searching eye can pierce the veil
That o’er my secret love is thrown;
No outward signs reveal its tale,
But to my bosom known.
Thus, like the spark, whose vivid light
In the dark flint is hid from sight,
It dwells within alone.
Do any thing but love; or, if thou lovest,
And art a woman, hide they love from him
Whom thou dost worship; never let him know
How dear he is; flit like a bird before him;
Lead him from tree to tree, from flower to flower;
But be not won; or thou wilt, like that bird,
When caught and caged, be left to pine neglected,
And perish in forgetfulness.
L. E. Landon
Acanthus: symbolizes Art
“Learned of Italy’s Acanthus, the arts
Which Cornith claims.” –Milton.
When, from the sacred garden driven,
Man fled before his Maker’s wrath,
And angel left her place in heaven,
And crossed the wanderer’s sunless path.
’T was Art! sweet Art! New radiance broke
Where her bright foot flew o’er the ground,
And thus with seraph voice she spoke:
”The curse a blessing shall be found.”
She led him through the trackless wild,
Where moontide’s sunbeam never blazed;
The thistle shrank, the harvest smiled,
And Nature gladdened as she gazed.
Earth’s thousand tribes of living things,
At Art’s command to him are given;
The village grows, the city springs,
And point their spires of faith to heaven.
Almond: symbolizes Heedlessness (Recklessness)
I knew a lady once
Who was very beautiful,
Very fair to look upon,
And very dutiful.
Yet in this she erred,
What was very needless;
She would do, and what is more,
Do it very heedless.
She received a letter
Full of tender sighs,
And she read it over
Till her little eyes
Filled with tears, and her heart
Was about to melt,
When suddenly she thought about
The paper that she felt.
It was coarse; and she said,
“He must be a liar;”
So she tore the letter up,
And put it in the fire.
But afterwards she did repent,
And said it was needless;
And vowed she never more would do
Any thing so heedless.
J. S. Adams.
Here is an unusual poem about the secret thoughts of flowers, composed by the Victorian poet Philip Bourke Marston.
I’ve illustrated this Victorian poem with a vintage illustration of heirloom roses found in antique seed catalog. The line-art is very detailed and these roses are printable as-is, or use as clip art for your next floral/botanical themed project.
At the end of the poem is a biography of Philip Bourke Marson, you’ll discover that his life was quite tragic, which makes this poem about the secret conversations and thoughts of ephemeral flowers to be all the more poignant.
A Garden Secret
(A Flower and a Hand)
Just after Night-fall.
I heard a whisper of roses,
And light white lilies laugh out:
“Ah, sweet, when the evening closes,
And stars come looking about,
How cool and good it is to stand,
Nor fear at all the gathering hand!”
“Would I were red!” cried a white rose.
“Would I were white!” cried a red one.
“No longer the light wind blows;
He went with the dear dead sun.
Here we forever seem to stay,
And yet a sun dies every day.”
“The sun is not dead, but sleeping,
And each day the same sun wakes;
But when stars their watch are keeping,
Then a time of rest he takes.”
Many Roses together.
“How very wise these lilies are!
They must have heard star talk with star!”
“Pray, the, can you tell us, lilies,
Where slumbers the wind at night,
When the garden all round so still is,
And brimmed with the moon’s pale light?”
“In branches of great trees he rests.”
“Not so; they are too full of nests.”
“I think he sleeps where the grass is;
He there would have room to lie;
The white moon over him passes;
He wakes with the dawning sky.”
Many Lilies together.
“How very wise these roses seem,
Who think they know, and only dream!”
“What haps to a gathered flower!”
“Nay, sister, now who can tell?
One comes not back just one hour,
To say it is ill or well.
I would with such a one confer,
To know what strange things chanced to her.”
“Hush! hush! now the wind is waking–
Or is it the wind I hear?
My leaves are thrilling and shaking–
Good-by: I am gathered, my dear!
Now, whether for my bliss or woe,
I shall know what the plucked flowers know!”
By Philip Bourke Marston, Harper’s Monthly, 1892
Note: Here is some biographical information about the author that you may find interesting, if not tragic.
Philip Bourke Marston (13 August 1850 – 13 February 1887) was an English poet.
He was born in London. His father, John Westland Marston (1819-1890), wrote verse dramas, and was a friend of Dickens, Macready and Charles Kean. Philip’s godparents were Philip James Bailey and Dinah Mulock. At his father’s house near Chalk Farm he met authors and actors of his father’s generation, and subsequently the Rossettis, Swinburne, Arthur O’Shaughnessy and Henry Irving. In his fourth year, his sight began to decay, and he gradually became almost totally blind.
His mother died in 1870. His fiance, Mary Nesbit, died in 1871; his closest friend, Oliver Madox Brown, in 1874; his sister Cicely, his amanuensis, in 1878; in 1879 his remaining sister, Eleanor, who was followed to the grave after a brief interval by her husband, the poet O’Shaughnessy, and her two children.
In 1882, the death of his chief poetic ally and inspirer, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was followed closely by that of another kindred spirit, James Thomson (B.V.), who was carried dying from his blind friend’s rooms, where he had sought refuge from his latest miseries early in June of the same year.
It is not surprising that Marston’s verse became sorrowful and melancholy. The idylls of flower-life, such as the early and very beautiful The Rose and the Wind, were succeeded by dreams of sleep and the repose of death. These qualities and gradations of feeling are traceable through his three published collections, Songtide (1871), All in All (1873) and Wind Voices (1883). Marston’s verse was collected in 1892 by Louise Chandler Moulton, a loyal friend, and herself a poet.
In his later years he wrote short stories in Home Chimes and other American magazines, through the agency of Mrs. Chandler Moulton. His popularity in America far exceeded that in his own country.
His health showed signs of collapse from 1883; in January 1887 he lost his voice, and suffered intensely from the failure to make himself understood.
He was commemorated in Gordon Hake’s Blind Boy, and in a sonnet by Swinburne, beginning The days of a man are threescore years and ten. There is an intimate sketch of the blind poet by a friend, Coulson Kernahan, in Sorrow and Song (1894).