Did you know you have birth flowers, depending on the month in which you were born? These are the two birth flowers most often associated with July.
Larkspur is the common name given to perennial species of Delphinium and annual species of Consolida. Delphinium, in turn, comes from the Latin word for dolphin, and refers to the shape of the nectary, the nectar-filled spur of the flower. And larkspur? That’s because it resembles the bird’s long hind claw.
The larkspur is the classic cottage garden plant, best at the back of a mixed border. It does well in Britain’s relatively cool summers, and may struggle in the heat. This is a member of the buttercup family – you’ll see the resemblance if you look closely at the leaves. It hardly seems possible, but these tall, graceful spikes of blue, purple, pink or white flowers are highly toxic.
No wallflower, this. The larkspur is the goodlooking, showily dressed party guest who stands in the middle of the room and hogs the limelight.
Given as a birth flower for July, the larkspur signifies love and joy.
The water lily family, Nymphaeaceae, is native to tropical and temperate regions of the world, including the UK. British natives such as Nymphaea alba look exotic, yet are surprisingly hardy, flower for six months a year, and cover up to nine square metres of water. There are also miniature species, with teacup-sized flowers that will grow in a small bowl and make a great tabletop or balcony water feature.
At the other end of the scale is the extraordinary giant Victoria amazonica, the world’s largest water lily. This native of the Amazon region has tea tray-like flowers up to three metres in diameter, and caused a huge stir when it made its public debut in Britain. The gardener, architect and member of parliament Joseph Paxton was the first to bring it to flower, and later used its ribbed leaves as the inspiration for the Crystal Palace.
As one of the two birth flowers for July, the water lily is full of symbolic significance in many cultures. It is particularly associated with rebirth and enlightenment.
January: Carnation or snowdrop
February: Violet or primrose
March: Daffodil or jonquil
April: Daisy or sweet pea
May: Lily of the valley or hawthorn
June: Rose or honeysuckle
July: Larkspur or water lily
August: Gladiolus or poppy
October: Calendula or cosmos
December: Narcissus (paperwhite) or holly