In the floral industry we get asked that question quite a bit and no one in their right mind will answer with just one favorite flower, simply because in the flower world there is simply too much beauty to behold. The colors, the shapes, the smells, the wonders, the legends, the secrets and promises, the magic of flowers, they are like a kaleidoscope of favorites presenting a plethora of beaux flirting with your heart.
However there is one that is on the tip of my tongue, always, even as I swallow the name in order to tell you how this question can not be answered with just one flower. She is blue and shy, cool and oh so sweet when her racemes uncurl and tiny 5 petaled flowers, carried on even tinier pedicels, look up and reflect Summer’s happiness in the miniature sky blue umbels. You will not forget her once you’ve met.
Forget Me Nots or Myosotis sylvatica (meaning Mouse Ear of the wood) is a member of the Borage family and probably the flower closest to my heart. Her modest demeanor appeals to me. Happy with a place in shade but freely adapts to a much sunnier place as long as Spring rains keep it hydrated. I love this tiny flower mostly I think because it mirrors the blue summer sky like no other flower can. But also poignant in my mind is an long ago conversation I had with my Mother now more than two decades ago. She introduced me to the name and we talked about the flower’s simple beauty and demure quality. I did not know at the time that it was one of the last flower talks we would have together. She passed away only a short while later but these flower have bloomed, moved with me and re-seeded in my Oregon garden(s) ever since that beautiful day in Virginia, reminding me of my dear Mother who inspired me to love the flowers.
Forget Me Nots are prevalent with meaning. In the language of flowers they symbolize endurance, fidelity and loyalty. When Henry the IV was exiled from England he adopted the flower and preserved it until he came back a year later.
Forget Me Nots also signify remembrance during parting and being apart after good times.
In floristry the flower is not that commonly in use. A shame really as it can be a very good cut flower when properly conditioned.
I pick them when a cluster of tiny flowers have opened, clean off the lower leaves and other debris. When all cleaned up I lay the whole flower in a lukewarm bath properly conditioned with flower food, covering the whole stem and flower for about an hour or two. After which I will put them upright in a jar full of water and arrange as usual, taking care that the stems do not get crushed by other, more substantial stems in the process. They look great around the neck of a vase or tucked in the middle of an arrangement lower towards the water source where they are a sweet surprise not obvious at first glance.
The blossoms can be added to salads as a garnish and make excellent candied blooms. However, the plant does contain some pyrrolizidine, a chemical not to eat a lot of so use only occassionally and not to excess.
The whole plant is astringent and it has been used in herbal medicine as an effective remedy for several eye conditions, including conjunctivitis. It is also a handy first aid herb to help stop bleeds when applied externally, fresh or in powder (dried).
Forget Me Nots are pollinated by Lady bugs, small flies and other hymenopterans.
The easiest way to get Forget me Not’s started in you garden is to buy some seeds (available at Petal Passion) and scatter them a few weeks before last frost date (now) in your area for blooms in fall or next spring. Or scatter the seeds in early fall for spring blooms. Once established they will reseed easily, just make sure you recognize the seedling when you are doing your spring weeding.
Forget me Not’s are also available as a plant ( at Petal Passion available in one gallon pots as well as 4″pots), they are a bi-annual but usually behave as a perennial. In my garden their foliage start appearing in fall and by the end of March I harvest the blooms.
There is a story in the name, there always is. This legend tells of a German Knight who was walking along the steep bank of the a river, picking flowers for the love of his life who was accompanying him on this day. The heavy armor he was wearing, (why? The story does not tell) brought him off balance while reaching for the tiny flowers and he fell down to the swift river below that was swollen with spring rains. He threw the Myositis to his lady and shouted: Forget Me Not my love and so this became the name of the Spring blooming Myosotis. After the knight plunged into his watery grave, the maiden then wept big tears of sorrow onto the soil on which the blooms had landed and from then on the spring blooming Forget Me Nots have forever thrived.
Or maybe before this tragic story even happened, in the beginning of time when the creator gave out names to flowers, one tiny one was forgotten in the shade and she cried out: Forget Me Not, and so the creator said: That shall be your name and so it was. Then a bit later when that creator got around to painting all the flowers he had named, he did not notice this tiny thing in the shade but she was not to be forgotten as her name implied so courageously she brought up the issue with her creator who gladly corrected the matter and went back to the painting shed. But as fortune would have it, no colors were left except a tiny smidgen of blue. For a tiny flower such as the Forget Me Not, not much paint was needed so the creator decided to go with it. He spread out the lick of blue as far as it would go and thus Forget Me Not ended up in blooming in the hue of a the blue summer sky.