How a nymphonmaniac was turned into a flower, the anemone (053)

In the first days of spring the flowers of the pink blue and white anenomes turn the grounds of many estates and parks into a carpet of pink, white and blue. The delicate flower only opens when the sun shines. This small bulb is named after the nymph Anemone who was put under a spell. How that came about is told in this Greek legend:

In the days that the gods still lived on earth, the god of the west wind, Zephyros, fell in love with the small nymph Anenome who ruled over Nature. She was a nymphomaniac: she fell for every male she met. In particular she could not resist the male gods. The god of the west wind, however, preferred to keep his beloved for himself alone and went to complain to Hera, queen of the gods and wife of Zeus, king of the gods. Zeus himself was unable to resist any form of feminine beauty, which was a source of misery to Hera. Wishing to prevent any further episodes of love-inspired tragedy, she turned Anenome into a woodland plant so that she could not seduce anyone else. This strategy worked so well that even Zephyros could not find her at first. For months on end he tried to find his beloved Anenome whom he missed so much. Everywhere he went he called her name:”Anenome, Anemone!”. But she was nowhere to be found. One spring morning he finally recognized her when in the first light she opened her flower to greet the sun. Ever since then they have been together. How do we know and see this? Pay special attention when the west wind is quietly brushing the blossom of this fragile flower. When an anenome is moving in the wind, then you know that they are together again: then the god of the west wind Zephyros is caressing and kissing his beloved Anemone.

Bulbs tubers like the anenome are the original bulbs which were grown under trees. Only in the early spring when the trees are still bare, do they get enough light to grow and flower in a very short time. Look carefully and you can see how beautifully and delicately an anemone emerges out of the earth: the fine stem and leaf are curved, only straightening once they have come clear of the earth, quickly followed by the flower itself.
An anenome is a so-called stinzen plant, like the snowdrop, holewort, spring crocus, wild garlic and winter aconite. In the late middle ages the rich often brought them back with them from their journeys to distant lands, because the small bulbs could be easily preserved. They were planted on their estates and came to be known as ‘stinzen’ plants, the Fresian word for the stones the houses were built from. In the course of the centuries this is where these plants then naturalized.

© Els Baars,


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Els Baars