Martha Denham - "Many Blessings" Series
Words and Art by Martha Denham
“From the origin of a flower's name to its distinctive characteristics and rich mythology, flowers are infused with symbolism and meaning.” Flowers have always been a part of my life as my mother grew cutting flowers and hybridized gladiolas. The series “Many Blessings” presents a variety of flowers created with pine needle coils, sculpting material, paint, and raffia woven pedals and leaves. Each flower describes a single blessing.
The rose represents “Love”. Every living being thrives when loved. Whether it’s a couple in love or the love of parents and children, love of family and friends, love of a pet to its human and the human to its pet; love lets us reach out to another and find that connection that we belong to something besides ourselves. Because love is one of many emotions it is complex. Oftentimes it’s hard and painful. Yet, it endures.
The single stem rose with its exquisite bloom is often thought of as delicate. From my experience as a gardener roses are tougher then they look. Planting them in the sun, providing water and food, and with proper pruning I’ve seen many of my bushes survive severe weather and present beautiful blooms.
I have also found that love can be bruised but it will survive like the rose.
After going through winter where the night is long and the East Winds blow, the cold and dreary days weigh heavy on the soul.
Then comes a change in the weather. Subtly at first; there is a green stem emerging from the cold and wet earth.
Suddenly there it is in all its glory; a bright yellow sunburst of a flower. It’s a daffodil. The meaning of a daffodil is new beginnings. I call that hope.
Every spring when the daffodils are blooming I think of fresh summer vegetables, my flower garden, the evening aromas, barbecues, sounds of kids playing outside,..
...and I dream of summer.
My uncle flew a B-17 in World War II. In a letter he wrote my mother he described a mission he flew that was a “mercy mission”.
The Dutch, in resistance to the Nazis, flooded their fields so the Nazis couldn’t obtain fresh food. In so doing, the Dutch starved as well. Towards the end of the war the Nazis allowed the Allies to fly mercy missions and air-drop much needed food. The letter describes how my uncle had to fly a designated route or his plane would be fired at. As he came lower in elevation and delivered his load he saw where the people had spelled out on the ground “Thank-You”.
The name for the tulip comes from the shape of the flower which is similar to a Turk’s turban. For me personally it is the flower that Holland (The Netherlands) is known for; tulips. Being of Dutch descent, and with the story of my uncle, the “courage” of the Dutch people is what comes to my mind.
This tulip represents courage.
Probably one of the hardiest and most prolific flowers a gardener can have in their garden is the iris. One single tuber can grow into a large mass of color and fragrance. All one can do at this point is dig up the mass of roots and relocate them somewhere else to repeat the cycle. Or, like the gardeners I grew up with, share the tubers.
Pretty soon the entire neighborhood is teeming with iris. The iris's three upright petals are said to symbolize faith, valor and wisdom. The iris gardens I knew as a kid, and my own experience with growing iris as an adult, have shown me they always come back from a hard winter and grow with a vengeance. You can dig them up, throw the tubers in a bag, ignore them for months, and when you finally get around to planting them, they thrive. Best of all they are a wonder of color and fragrance.
They represent to me faith. I have faith they will endure; faith in their beauty; faith in their fragrance; and faith in their proliferation. As in my faith of the longevity of this flower is my personal faith in God and faith in my family and friends.
Martha H. Denham