April 8, 2013

The low, sweet tones of happy flowers

Is anybody else out there as anxious for spring as I am?!  I can't wait to get out in my garden, and according to my calendar this week is National Garden Week.  But all the calendar declarations in the world are not warming things up enough where I live to actually venture into my garden so I happily propose instead to celebrate garden week in combination with National Poetry Month and take a peek at some of the lovely gardens of my favorite poets and authors.  Let's start with Orchard House, the home of the Alcott family (and where the adventures of the lively March sisters was penned by Louisa May Alcott.)  Here's the view of Orchard House from the street--Louisa's bedroom window on the second floor overlooked this side garden of wildflowers.


Near the side entrance to the house, located on the opposite side of this picture, this plaque is displayed near a small garden, and tells the reader what flowers each of the daughters preferred to plant in their own garden spaces.  


"As spring came on, a new set of amusements became the fashion, and the lengthening days gave long afternoons for work and play of all sorts. The garden had to be put in order, and each sister had a quarter of the little plot to do what she liked with. Hannah used to say, "I'd know which each of them gardings belonged to, ef I see 'em in Chiny," and so she might, for the girls' tastes differed as much as their characters. Meg's had roses and heliotrope, myrtle, and a little orange tree in it. Jo's bed was never alike two seasons, for she was always trying experiments. This year it was to be a plantation of sun flowers, the seeds of which cheerful land aspiring plant were to feed Aunt Cockle-top and her family of chicks. Beth had old-fashioned fragrant flowers in her garden, sweet peas and mignonette, larkspur, pinks, pansies, and southernwood, with chickweed for the birds and catnip for the pussies. Amy had a bower in hers, rather small and earwiggy, but very pretty to look at, with honeysuckle and morning-glories hanging their colored horns and bells in graceful wreaths all over it, tall white lilies, delicate ferns, and as many brilliant, picturesque plants as would consent to blossom there."   --Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

 I found these absolutely charming vintage paper dolls here.
Meg loved roses

while rambunctious Jo preferred the cheerful sunflower

Amy chose the morning glories

While sweet Beth preferred old fashioned flowers like sweet peas and pansies
I love the fragrance of sweet peas!

Here's a lovely flower poem by Louisa May from the 1855 collection Flower Fables.  I hope you have a beautiful start to your week, and maybe where you live it's warm enough to peek in your garden and see signs of spring!


by: Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
      righter shone the golden shadows;
      On the cool wind softly came
      The low, sweet tones of happy flowers,
      Singing little Violet's name.
      'Mong the green trees was it whispered,
      And the bright waves bore it on
      To the lonely forest flowers,
      Where the glad news had not gone.

      Thus the Frost-King lost his kingdom,
      And his power to harm and blight.
      Violet conquered, and his cold heart
      Warmed with music, love, and light;
      And his fair home, once so dreary,
      Gay with lovely Elves and flowers,
      Brought a joy that never faded
      Through the long bright summer hours.

      Thus, by Violet's magic power,
      All dark shadows passed away,
      And o'er the home of happy flowers
      The golden light for ever lay.
      Thus the Fairy mission ended,
      And all Flower-Land was taught
      The 'Power of Love,' by gentle deeds
      That little Violet wrought.
I thought you might enjoy this great idea for combining pressed flowers from your garden with pages from some of your favorite books (you can usually find vintage books at used bookstores for just a few dollars).  What a nice idea, and it would also make a great gift for someone who loves books!  I think I'll put my flower press to good use this summer!


  1. SUCH a fun post! I loved it! I wonder how many times I have read Little Women over my lifetime and then I loved the movie as well and paper dolls...I enjoyed playing with them as a child very much!

    HERE ( western PA ) we have had many a windy day lately.
    MARCH was like February... it literally felt as if we had two February months in a row. April thus far feels like March. Kind of strange :)

  2. Those Helen Page "Little Women" paperdolls are really sweet. (I love Marge's blog.) My sister has visited Orchard House and I will too, someday. I did love all of Louisa May Alcott's stories. Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, Eight Cousins, Under the Lilacs... I'm probably forgetting some. The pressed flowerers are really pretty. When my daughter was young, I got her a little press, and we made lot of pretty pressed flower crafts. Good memories.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this, Martha! I love "Little Women" and have been to Orchard House before. It's lovely to associate them with their flowers, and those paper dolls are so pretty!