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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

April Flower Lore

April Flower Lore

Flowers, perhaps more than any other part of the natural world, are fascinating because of the many layers of meaning people have shrouded them in throughout history.

There is a whole sub-category of etiquette surrounding which flowers are appropriate to give at what times, and to whom. The unending rules surrounding something so simple as a flower can be dizzying.

Another aspect of flower lore concerns the designated flowers for each month of the year. The official flower for April is the sweet pea.

The sweet pea is a fragrant, climbing annual flower native to the Mediterranean region, specifically Italy and Greece. Found in gardens throughout the world, sweet peas bloom from March through November, and are partial to cool, damp climates. Its popular name is actually a direct translation of its Latin name, Lathyrus odoratus, or “fragrant pea.”

As the name suggests, sweet peas are a member of the pea family. Unlike other species, however, they are toxic to humans and should not be eaten.

Originally purple in color, sweet peas now come in a palette of colors, from deep purple to pastel blues and pinks and white. Most gardeners grow it on trellises, where it can climb to heights of more than six feet.

In Victorian times, flowers were used as coded messages to expess feelings that could not be spoken aloud. Sending sweet peas meant “Thank You for a Lovely Time.”

One bit of folklore surrounding the sweet pea comes from Ireland, where it is believed that if you plant a sweet pea before sunrise between March 1 and March 20, and especially on St. Patrick’s Day, your sweet pea will grow to be larger and more fragrant.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.