Mothering Sunday & Flowers
By Jayne Alcock, Grounds and Gardens Supervisor at The Walled Gardens of Cannington
Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Centuries ago it was believed to be important for people to return to their home or 'mother' church once a year.
Many historians believe that it was this which led to the tradition of servants and apprentices being given the day off to visit their mother and family. As they walked the country lanes to get home, they would pick wildflowers as they went.
In more recent times it has become a day for when children give presents, flowers, and home-made cards to their mothers. Horticulturists have continued to cement the relationship between flowers and Mothering Sunday, breeding and selling plants which are named after this special day.
Roses are popular, including the fragrant pink ‘Mum in a Million’ and ‘Loving Mum’ with its deep orange blooms.
There is a Rhododendron called ‘Mother’s day’ which produces ruffled red flowers.
‘Mothers Choice’ is one of the best of all peonies for cutting, with large creamy white flowers.
Perhaps you would prefer to give a more personalised gift; there are many Clematis and Rose cultivars that have a woman’s name, such as the pink striped Clematis ‘Sally’ or Rose ‘Charlotte’ with its soft yellow deeply cupped blooms.
Daffodils are long associated with Mothering Sunday, they would be brought into churches and given by children to their mothers. The Latin name for daffodil comes from Greek mythology - Narcissus who was said to have fallen in love with his reflection in a pool of water. The bowing head of the daffodil is likened to Narcissus bending down and gazing at his reflection.
The UK continues to be one of the biggest producers of daffodils. We have a long love affair with its cheerful blooms. Wordsworth speaks fondly of them in his poem ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ in 1815:
“When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.”
The sight of golden yellow daffodils cannot fail to raise a smile, even amongst those who claim to not like flowers! They brighten up our verges and public spaces, letting us know that spring is here. In the 1930s there was a 'Daffodil Special' train service run by the Great Western Railway taking Londoners to the Gloucestershire Herefordshire border to admire and buy the flowers.
Due to their enduring popularity, thousands of species and cultivars have been bred. The Royal Horticultural Society has classified these into thirteen different divisions or groups of daffodils. Here at the gardens we showcase both the traditional and the contemporary. We have the classic multi-headed, fragrant Daffodil ‘Cheerfulness’, as well as the more recent and unusual, ‘Spoirot’, spotted as a promising seedling in Tasmania in 1987 and named after Agatha Christie’s fictional detective Hercule Poirot. It has many flowers coming from each bulb and flowers for many weeks, and has become a real talking point.
At The Walled Gardens of Cannington we invite mothers to visit for free on Mother’s Day, and give them pot of miniature daffodils, as a gift (whilst stocks last). Mothering Sunday is early this year, but we have had such a mild winter, the Gardens have already started flowering, with thousands of bulbs and plants beaming lots of colour, as the year transitions into spring. These include primroses, ornamental daisies, tulips, hyacinths, and carpets of scilla and chionodoxa in the Blue Garden - guaranteed to put a smile on any mother’s face.