22 May

Poppy And Columbine Power. I Am Fascinated By The Rich History And Symbolism Of Both. From Deceitful Lovers To Fallen Soldiers. Spooky And Beautiful

by Jon Katz

I’m beginning to explore the history and symbolism of the flowers I love. The Columbine has a story to tell, it was used in Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a symbol

of male adultery, ingratitude, and faithlessness. It was the emblem of deceived lovers

It was also the symbol for foolishness.  And the poppy has come to mean death and remembrance and sorrow.

In Hamlet, Ophelia gives Fennel and  Columbine to King Claudius. By giving Fennel and Columbine, she is sending a powerful message because Fennel is the symbol of flattery, and Columbine is the symbol of deceived lovers.

According to Shakespeare, being a deceived lover means indulging in adultery and faithlessness. It makes Columbine even more mysterious for me.

I’m happy to have a flower with such a great back story. I’ll keep checking out the histories of some of my flowers. This raised bed experience just keeps widening, growing, and deepening.

The poppy has an equally deep and mystical meaning. It has come to symbolize death and remembrance. See below.


The poppy is a common symbol that has been used to represent everything from peace to death and even simply sleep. From ancient times, poppies placed on tombstones represent eternal sleep. Poppies are used as a symbol worldwide to remember those who died in military service. Beautiful and a little spooky. I will see them differently.

After the Napoleonic wars in the early 19th century, the land around the battlefields was destroyed and left desolate and infertile.

Shortly after, red poppy flowers magically grew around the bodies of the fallen soldiers. Poppies then became a symbol of hope and peace with an underlying suggestion that the sacrifice of soldier’s lives were for the greater good.

Again in 1914, the fields of Northern France broke out in fighting as World War 1 began. Once the world war was over, the red poppy flowers were the only plants to grow back.

I love tracking the stories of these flowers. They give them a rich and different meaning. One beautiful thing leads to another.


  1. Poppies, or at least paper versions, are given out on Memorial Day by veteran’s organizations.
    There’s a poem that’s read (by a high school student at our local Memorial Day events) that has the line “..where poppies grow..”
    I never knew why they were a symbol ’til now.


    “In Flanders Field”

  2. Thank you Jon for the mention of history associated with the Poppy. This famous poem was written by a Canadian doctor John McCrae who served in several wars. As a child in Elementary School in Guelph Ontario, John’s home town, we memorized the poem and recited it every memorial day at a monument erected in his honor.
    In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
    beneath the crosses row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing. fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.
    We are the Dead, Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunse glow,
    Loved, and were loved,
    and now we lie
    In Flanders Field.

  3. “IN FLANDERS Field the Poppies Grow”. I am a 95 year old and will always remember the men who died that day. Thank you for remembering also.

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