THE MAGIC GARDEN: Myths and Folklore about Flowers, Plants, Trees, and Herbs by Anthony S. Mercatante

THE MAGIC GARDEN: Myths and Folklore about Flowers, Plants, Trees, and Herbs

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this slim compendium the attributes of flora are catalogued simply, with brief mention of the story from which the associations derive. Most come from Greek or Roman myths or Christian theology but there are others from Norse, Egyptian, Welsh, Oriental, and American Indian sources. For example, the cedar as a symbol of fidelity comes from a Chinese story involving a king who, coveting a woman, had her husband slain, then lost her to suicide. Or heliotrope as emblematic of enduring love and admiration is seen in the case of Clytie, rejected by Apollo, watching his chariot cross the sky for days. Many have more complicated genealogies, like the iris: a rainbow sign to the Greeks and Romans, a symbol for the Virgin Mary in Flemish paintings, the flower symbol of French kings. Odd facts predominate: did you know that Romans scattered nuts before the bride and groom (fertility) or that a 12th-century Egyptian recommended onion juice as a contraceptive? Along with the legitimate information there are tongue-in-cheek asides on such unrelated subjects as lovemaking in Italy, psychiatrists, and Dr. Johnson's perversity to lead you down the Garden path.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row