“We do not see nature with our eyes but with our understandings and our hearts.”
The tiny flower we call forget-me-not has the Latin name myosotis. This comes from the Greek word meaning ‘mouse ears’. Apparently the Greeks looked at the tiny round petals and thought they looked like the ears of a mouse.
Myself, I don’t see it. Yes, both are tiny and rounded but a lot of other flowers have tiny round petals too, so why choose the forget-me-not for this name?
I understand its common name – forget-me-not – rather better. It comes from medieval times and other European languages have a name for it that translates the same. In those times blue was considered to be the colour of fidelity so a knight heading off on a crusade would give his lady something blue to remember him by.
It was often worn by ladies as a sign of faithfulness and lasting love. Hence the wedding mantra ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’.
In a German legend, God was naming all the plants when a tiny one not yet named called, “Forget-me-not, O Lord!” And God smiled and said, “That shall be your name.”
Thoreau wrote, “The mouse-ear forget-me-not, Myosotis laxa, … hangs over the edge of the brook.” It reminds us that the forget-me-not likes a damp corner.
It isn’t a showy flower but it can make an effective background against which to display brilliant tulips in springtime.
But back to mouse ears. It reminds us of the power of individual perception. So much is in the eye of the beholder. One person looks at a tiny blue flower and thinks of remembrance and faithfulness. Another sees mouse ears. Is one right and one wrong? Or do we give thanks for our different understandings?
Can we combine the two, as Thoreau did?
Some gardeners see a pretty flower and welcome the forget-me-not every spring time. Others say it spreads so fast it is practically a weed and they root it out. Is one side right and the other side wrong? Or is it simply another perception?