By Nicole Tilde
The Sunflower Farm Festival scheduled for this weekend has me thinking about flowers and their myths and meanings. Why were the Greeks so melodramatic with that old story of Clytie, the young girl who turned into a sunflower while swooning over Apollo? What a sad story for such a happy flower. The sunflower, also known as Helianthus annus, with her bright yellow east facing petals, has always seemed like a symbol of happiness to me, not sorrow as in Clytie’s story. But in Greek legends it was often considered honorable to be turned into a flower, faring much better than stone or a statue.
A fact of the sunflower is that their opened faces always face east. The practice of Feng Shui and the old Native Indian tales tell us that east is the direction of doorways, home, opportunity and new beginnings. What a hopeful marker for weary summer travelers.
There is also a lot of mathematics spiraling around the head of the sunflower. Each feathered petal leans towards the next in what is called the Golden Angle. And typically, the number of spirals around the sunflower creates a Fibonnacia Number. This is a little more math than I’ll ever need.
There are many blooming plants whose names were derived from Greek legends; Anemone, Aster, Crocus and Iris, just to name a few. But when have we not placed meaning on flowers? Most states have a national flower and think of the significance of the flower chosen by a bride, and the way she holds her bouquet walking down the aisle.
I’ve also never forgotten the scene in “Hamlet” where Ophelia gives meaning to her flowers; “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies. That’s for thoughts.”
We give white roses for purity, red for romantic love, yellow to friends… The Farmer’s Almanac lists basil for good wishes and daisies for innocence and hope. Do you remember Christopher Plummer singing “Edelweiss” in “The Sound of Music”? Edel meaning nobility and weiss meaning white; the national flower of Austria.
And I would venture to say, the sunflower, through 11 years of tradition, music, food, art and festivities, has become the national flower of Rutledge. It has been proclaimed. They are painted in mosaic on the wall directly facing the modestly famous Caboose restaurant. Be sure to go there and see them for yourself.
In the tradition of so many flower festivals the 12th annual Sunflower Farm Festival will be held this Saturday and Sunday in our very own town of Rutledge. In honor of the Helianthus annus, the sunflower, the national flower of Rutledge, at the one and only Sunflower Farm!
The Sunflower Farm Festival always provides loads of fun with music, food, a tractor parade, art… and I hear they’ve added a zip line this year. The music lineup includes: The Apostles of Bluegrass, Rocky Creek, Kickin’ Grass, Shelby McLeod and April Allen. (I bet nobody will be singing “Edelweiss” but one never knows.) You can get all the information you need at www.sunflowerfarmfestival.com or just drive to 1430 Durden Road Rutledge, Georgia. (Google maps will get you there.)
Folk music at the Gazebo with Purple Bob
Friday, July 5, 7-9 p.m.