Greece is a warm European country with fertile soil, which is why many gardeners ask about traditional Greek flowers and the history behind them. This country has an intriguing history with flowers, and in today’s article, we’ll be taking a look at the most popular flowers in Greece, the tradition behind them and what Greek flowers can you grow on your own!
Most Popular Greek Flowers
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One of the most common flowers you’ll come across in Greece is the oleander. These flowers grow pretty much everywhere in the country and they usually come in white and pink. Interestingly, Greeks aren’t exactly planting them. Oleanders grow so plentifully there, that they’re almost considered a weed.
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The Greek Peony
These peonies, typically red in color, grow near Delphi – the ancient prophecy site. They grow at a height of 5 000 feet and they have the innate ability to freeze during the winter but still survive it. This flower is, unfortunately, endangered and it’s almost become an endemic species.
Interestingly, this flower dons its name after Paean – a character from Greek mythology. According to the myth, he was the first person to discover the medical powers of peonies.
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Aster – Greek Flowers
These flowers, which are both easy to grow and to maintain, don their name after the word ‘aster’, which means ‘star’ in ancient Greek. They’re very reminiscent of a star in their shape, and they’re also similar to daisies. Unlike daisies, they don’t only come in white, as they can be blue, pink, purple and some other iterations too.
According to Greek mythology, Zeus decided to cast a flood upon the planet because men became evil. Goddess Astraea was saddened by this idea and she wished to become a star. Once in the sky, she started crying when she saw all the destruction, and every tear she dropped on the ground grew into one of the flowers.
Dianthus, literally meaning ‘the god-flower’ or ‘flower of the gods’, is a beautiful flower, typically growing in various shades of pink and sometimes purple. In some traditions, this is the flower that people leave on a grave once a person dies. Within this genus, there are perennials, biennials, and annuals.
According to legend, Artemis (goddess of the hunt), failed to kill anything on one of her hunting trips and found a shepherd playing a flute on the way home. She immediately put the blame on his music and gouged his eyes out. Once she had calmed down, she felt so terrible about what she did that dianthuses started to grow on the spot where the shepherd’s eyes fell on the ground.
Hyacinths – Greek Flowers
Hyacinths are flowers that produce an instantly-recognizable scent, they’re usually shaped like a bell and they come in several colors; red, blue, white, yellow, pink and the color of lavender.
The name hyacinth comes from a character from Greek mythology – Hyacinthos. Hyacinthos was a lover of Apollo – he was particularly popular because of his incredible beauty. However, the west wind, Zephyrus, was jealous of Apollo and he decided to kill Hyacinthos one day by blowing a stone discus into his head.
Apollo cried and every tear that fell to the ground became a flower.
National Greek Flowers
Interestingly, Greece is one of the few countries in the world without an official national flower. Many flowers are associated with Greece to the point where they might as well be the national flower, but there is no consensus on an official national flower of this beautiful country. This isn’t odd, however, given that there are dozens of beautiful flowers species serving an everyday purpose in the lives of the Greeks.
One such example is the violet, which was the official flower of Athens a few hundred years ago. This is because the flower was also called “ion” – the legend that’s nowadays credited for founding Athens. Apparently, nymphs greeted Ion with violets and he simply decided to stay there and start a city.
What Greece does have, however, are national plants. One such example is the laurel. This plant has been prominent in Greece for a very long time and it also served as a crown for the winners of the Olympic games. Traditionally, there is a legend that laurels have cleansing powers of both the mind and body.
Similar to the laurel, the other plant that’s connected to Greece and considered to be a national plant is the olive. Olives grow intensely all over the Mediterranean. In tradition, olive trees symbolize peace and mercy, which is why the handing of an olive branch is a symbolic peace offering. It’s also symbolic of safety, as in the bible, a pigeon brought Noah an olive branch as confirmation that the flood has pulled back.
Because of its geographical position and its lovely weather, Greece is completely overflowing with flowers. Some of the most common flowers you’ll see there are oleanders, Greek peonies, violets, dianthuses and hyacinths. Most of these flowers are connected to Greek mythology in one way or another.
When it comes to traditional Greek flowers, they don’t have a fixed official flower, and they’re one of the few countries that have no clear consensus on that. They do, however, have olives and laurels as their official plants, which are both deeply ingrained with this country’s history, as well as history of their capital – Athens.
Who is the Greek goddess of flowers?
In ancient Greek mythology, Chloris was the goddess of flowers. There was also Antheia, the goddess of swamps and flowery wreaths.
How do you say 'bet the flowers are blooming nicely' in Greek?
Vázo stoíchima óti ta louloúdia anthízoun ómorfa.
When do the flowers in Greek islands fall apart?
Fall and spring are probably the best times to visit Greek islands if you're interested in seeing flowers. During the winter, the weather isn't as wet and it gets colder, so flowers start freezing.
What flowers go well with a tall Greek vase?
Oleanders and violets are some of the most common flowers in Greece, and if you want to stay true to the style of your vase, that combination would be best.
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