Sussex Gardeners learn about history, meaning of certain flowers

Earth Day plans include dogwood tree planting
April 21, 2024

The Sussex Gardeners’ April meeting featured an interesting presentation by Melanie Moser on The Meaning of Flowers, followed by a question-and-answer session. Moser is a past assistant professor of landscape architecture at Morgan State University and is now on staff with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Her slide presentation explored several blooms – magnolia, foxglove, passion flower and rosemary – and their derivations and associations.

Magnolias are believed to be the earliest known flowering plants. Because they existed before bees, they rely on beetles for pollination. Legend has it that planting a magnolia in the front yard will result in peace and tranquility. If planted in the back yard, the magnolia will bring financial security.

The foxglove (digitalis), a beautiful, bell-shaped bloom, is poisonous and may be fatal if ingested. However, medicinal applications of foxglove were recorded as early as the 1790s.

The passion flower was named in the late 1500s by Jesuit priests for the Passion of Christ. The flower’s five petals and five sepals represent the 10 apostles who remained faithful to Jesus throughout the Passion. The hairlike rays arranged in a circle above the petals symbolize the crown of thorns. In Spanish, passion flower is known as La Flor de las Cinco Llagas, or the Flower With the Five Wounds.

Rosemary, while thought of mostly as an herb, is a fragrant evergreen with delicate white, pink, purple or blue flowers. It is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, and has often been considered a means to improve memory.

The business meeting was conducted by President Diane Shawley, and members were reminded of upcoming events. Environmental Chair Joan Flaherty announced that three dogwood trees were to be planted at Brandywine Senior Living at Seaside Pointe to mark April 22 as Earth Day. This planting supports the Tree for Every Delawarean Initiative, part of Delaware’s comprehensive plan for climate change response.

The program for the club’s next meeting Thursday, May 16, will include a white elephant plant exchange, for which members may bring up to three plants to contribute.

Sussex Gardeners is an affiliate of the National Garden Clubs Inc., Central Atlantic Region of State Garden Clubs Inc. and Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs. For more information about Sussex Gardeners, email

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter