For centuries people have enjoyed the sight of flowers, in the wild, in gardens and in their homes. However, in the past, bringing flowers into the house often had a particular purpose or meaning beyond just providing something pretty to look at. They would be strategically positioned above doors and windows to ward off evil spirits, or carefully placed in certain rooms to bring good luck and good health to the occupants. This tradition extended right through history into the 20th century with visitors taking flowers to those who were ill in hospital. Conversely, old folklore also provides an extensive list of flowers which should never be brought into the home for fear of inviting illness or bad luck upon the residents: this includes any type of blossom (particularly hawthorn), lilies, bluebells, dandelions and many other wild flowers.
These days we are less superstitious, some might say less spiritual, and few people actually bring flowers into the house to ward off evil spirits or to prevent diseases, yet millions of us display flowers in vases in locations around the home and the workplace because of the cheer they bring. We say “flowers brighten up the room” but what we really mean is “flowers brighten up our mood”. Scientific behavioural studies have shown that this, in itself, is no mere superstition: living and working in the presence of an attractive display of flowers really does trigger feelings of happiness and emotional well-being in everyone, men and women of all age groups. Furthermore studies show that for some reason, which is not clearly understood, a display of flowers in a room makes us more friendly, more willing to share, and has a much more powerful positive effect on our social behaviour than is generally assumed. One simple theory which might explain these responses, is that the colours, shapes and scents of flowers remind us biologically and emotionally of the idyllic conditions of spring and early summer when all animal and plant life bursts forth anew.
So, here in mid-winter, while we endure the coldest, most depressing months of the year, an attractive display of flowers in the home or office may provide a natural remedy to the winter blues; but of course the blooms in any such display are likely to be imported.
Wild flowers should be left in the wild, please do not pick them for your home!