The Company You Keep: A Plant Guide for Home Office

vor 2 Monaten

‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies. That’s for thoughts.’  -Hamlet

Plants are way more than just pretty decor, a friendly gift or a nice smell that fills the room. Plants and flowers symbolize emotions, ideas and actions, and each one of them has its very own meaning. Evidence for plant and flower symbolism appears in literature, art and folklore as early as the Ancient Greeks, and the symbolic language of flowers has been recognized for centuries in many countries throughout Europe, Asia, and beyond. Plants were assigned meanings in the Bible, throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance (including Shakespearean plays) up to today’s modern day culture. After all, almost every sentiment imaginable can be expressed with flowers. Bluebells are associated with kindness, rosemary with remembrance, and tulips with passion…

During the 1800s, deciphering plant symbolism became a popular pastime, even more so after Joseph Hammer-Purgstall’s „Dictionnaire du language des fleurs“ was published in 1809. The book was found in nearly all Victorian homes alongside the Bible. In this era, flowers were used to deliver messages that couldn’t be spoken out loud. They served as a silent dialogue and could be used to answer „yes“ or „no“ questions. „Yes“ could come in form of flowers handed over with the right hand, while the left hand meant „no“. But of course flower discourses could also get way more complex than that and express aversive feelings, such as the “conceit” of pomegranate or the “bitterness” of aloe. If someone passed a rose to declare an unwanted „devotion“ or an apple blossom to show their „preference“ one would hand back the undesired suitor a yellow carnation to express their „disdain“.

Of course the meanings and traditions associated with specific flowers have changed over time, and the ideas assigned to species differ from culture to culture. Nevertheless, the fascination with plant symbolism persists just the same. Therefore, surrounding yourself with the plants that symbolize things you want and value can help create a positive environment. Here is our guide for the ideal companions in the (home) office:

Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)

The money tree is native to Central and South America and has become a popular houseplant thanks to its hearty nature. The tree is prominent among those who practice feng shui and it is believed to create positive energy. Traditionally, the plant stands for wealth and good fortune and is great for everyone who is career-driven or starting a new business.

Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)

The plant with the most beautiful naturally painted leaves has its origin in the Brazilian tropical forest and stands for devotion and focus. It is suitable for everyone who wishes to stay organized and on schedule like the changing leaves of a prayer plant.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

The snake plant came to us from West Africa, more specifically, Nigeria and Congo. It stands for tenacity and naturally purifies the air, which comes in handy when working through a pandemic. This plant is perfect for all the creatives out there, since it is said to boost creative energy and lets your mind travel.

Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)

This one deserves a spot on your desk for its name alone. The American carnivorous plant is notable for its unusual habit of catching and digesting insects and other small animals. As a photosynthetic plant, the Venus Flytrap does not rely on carnivore for energy, but rather uses the nitrogen-rich animal proteins to enable its survival. No wonder the plant with a desire to kill stands for strength and courage and is a great choice for all of those adventurous and eccentric.

Lavender (Lavandula)

For all of those that seek some grounding and destressing rather than a boost on their work desk, Lavender is just what Fräulein prescribes. The plant will give you relaxation and comfort, due to its beautiful pastel violet colored blossoms and infatuating smell. Lavender has been around for over 2.500 years and was used as a holy herb in ancient times – and rightfully so! Today lavender is known for all its potential health perks and often used to reduce blood pressure, helps with insomnia and positively effects on mood, stress, anxiety and depression.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage is an aromatic, rather woody perennial shrub in the mint family and is native to the shores of the northern Mediterranean. It is a symbol for health, purity and wisdom and exactly the right plant for spiritual people who enjoy smudging their house to eradicate negative energy. For those that want all the benefits of sage in their home but don’t necessarily succeed in watering their plants accordingly, simply get a bundle of dried sage herbs to light up whenever an energy cleanse is needed.

Bonsai (Juniperus procumbens)

The art of the Japanese bonsai tree started in the 6th century, when Buddhist students from Japan visited and returned from mainland China and brought back many Chinese ideas and goods, including container plantings. The miniature tree symbolizes harmony, wisdom and calm and is great for someone who needs more balance in their (work) life.

 

Words and Photos by Ann-Kathrin Lietz

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