Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flower School 02 "Acanthus"

Acanthus (Bear's Breech)

The myth goes that Calimachus, a Greek architect and sculpture had visited a grave site and happened upon the grave of a young girl which had been adorned by a votive basket which was filled with her dolls. The basket was covered by a tile to protect the dolls from the elements and and Acanthus plant had grown around and through the weaving of the basket. This sight was the source of his inspiration for a beautifully ornate column which is referred to as the Corinthian Column. The plant can bee found growing lavishly wild around Greek and Turkish ruins. The Leaves of the Acanthus have been used throughout history for ornamentation of interiors, textile prints and all types of decorative detailing.
The Acanthus is a hardy perennial which does well in full sunlight.
Conditioning :
The stems are best cut when all flowers have blossomed, then their ends should be placed in boiling water for 30 sec and after placed in deep cold water for a few hours. The flowers can also be dried by being hung upside down. The leaves should also have their stem ends dipped in boiling water watching not to let the steam damage the leaves. After, they should be completely submerged in water with a little bit of starch for half a day.
Since they do so well in August or September they are perfect summer flowers for larger bold arrangements combining well with other naturally occurring flowers of the season like Sunflowers, Olive branches, Dahlias and Thistle-(whose foliage closely resemble the Acanthus).

Print depicting the origins for inspiration of the design of the Corinthian Column

Frank Oliver Call

Beneath the sculptured marble portico
Of a Greek temple, white against the sky,
Carved capitals on pillars rising high
Gleam like great blossoms in the noonday's glow.
Proudly each column in the stately row
Its crown of beauty wears; the sunbeams die
Among acanthus leaves that nestling lie
Where they were carved two thousand years ago.

Eternal Beauty, thou wilt not be bound
By time-forged fetters, but dost find a home
Where Gothic pillars rise acanthus-crowned
Beneath gray northern spires or southern dome,
Eternal Beauty, Everlasting Truth,
Thou hast the secret of undying youth.