Since the seventeenth century, American plants have formed part of the English garden. American gardeners…
Goddess Flora Protects Flowers
Goddess Flora protects flowers.
Recently I saw the film Wonder Woman. The superhero’s name was Diana Prince, or rather Princess Diana, daughter of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons.
I loved this fantasy movie built on a comic book heroine.
I saw some connection in the film to our fascination with gods and goddesses, even iin the garden.
In Roman mythology Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature. She was associated with wild animals and woodland.
In eighteenth century England there was a love of classical Greek and Roman writing about horticulture and agriculture. In the landscape Temples and statues appeared that shared in that classical tradition.
Henry Hoare’s Temple of Flora (1744-1746) at his grand garden Stourhead still stands today as one shining example.
In his book New Principles of Gardening (1728) English landscape gardener Batty Langley listed the names of gods and goddesses that would be a fit subject for a statue in the garden.
He wrote, “There is nothing adds so much to the Beauty and Grandeur of Gardens, as fine Statues; and nothing more disagreeable than wrongly plac’d”.
Then he named the statues that would be appropriate for areas of the landscape like open lawns, woods, fruit-gardens, and orchards
For the flower garden he recommended a statue of Flora or Cloris, goddesses of Flowers.
Here is an early image of Flora, goddess of flowers. [below]
Flora, in Roman religion, was the goddess of flowering plants. Titus Tatius who ruled with Romulus is said to have introduced her cult to Rome.
Romans considered Flora the one who would provide the blooms to flowering plants so they would thrive, grow, and reproduce.
Flowers were so important to the Romans that they inspired a goddess to provide for them and stand as their champion against draught and other plant disasters.
Flora’s temple in Rome stood near the Circus Maximus. Her festival, called Floralia, was instituted in 238 B.C. The celebration included floral wreaths worn in the hair much like modern participants in May Day celebrations.
A representation of Flora’s head, distinguished only by a floral crown, appeared on coins of the republic.
Paintings of Flora since that time make such a crown an essential element in depicting her.
In 1731 Sir John Clerk of Penicuik wrote a poem called “The Country Seat” about the gardens and estates of England.
In the poem he writes, “”Where Flora with a Knot of gaudy Flowrs may dress her lovely head.”
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Wow, I just found your site as I was doing some digging around for information on Stourhead, and you mention it in this post. I’ve been there many times, I live in Dorset and it’s around 50 minutes away.
There are many incredible Victorian gardens with incredible statues, West Dean Gardens in Sussex being another, with incredible Victorian greenhouses and orangeries to boot 🙂
I love your love of English gardens!! They do offer something romantic and unique. After 6 years in Australia I had to come home, English quaintness being one of the major pulls on my heartstrings 🙂
Thanks, I enjoyed reading this and browing your other articles.
Thanks for following. I do appreciate the tradition of the English garden. Much has happened over the last three hundred years in gardening, and the English grand landscapes tell the story.