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Old 07-30-2015, 05:32 PM   #1
Inziladun
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Tolkien's Floral Fixation

Professor Tolkien made no secret of his personal affinity for flowers. I only know about them what is absolutely necessary:

1. What roses look like.
2. That women expect them from their Significant Other on-
(a). Their birthday
(b). Anniversaries
(c). Mother's Day
(d). Any other day*

*(d), though arbitrarily determined, still carries the expectation that said Significant Other should anticipate the date and respond appropriately.

Tolkien's works are littered with references to flowers. He uses them to symbolize life and peace, such as in Lórien:

Quote:
At the feet of the trees, and all about the green hillsides the grass was studded with small golden flowers shaped like stars. Among them, nodding on slender stalks, were other flowers, white and palest green: they glimmered as a mist amid the rich hue of the grass.
And he even makes them stand for the opposite of life in Minas Morgul:

Quote:
Wide flats lay on either bank, shadowy meads filled with pale white flowers. Luminous these were too, beautiful and yet horrible of shape, like the demented forms in an uneasy dream; and they gave forth a faint sickening charnel-smell; and odor of rottenness filled the air.
So, does the use of flowers add (or maybe subtract) from your enjoyment of Tolkien's books? Do they have any special emotional impact at a particular moment?
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:16 PM   #2
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May the discussion flourish!

Intriguing topic! I can't claim to be an expert on flowers either (although married to a passionate gardener), but I know a couple and am rather fond of them. I approve of their inclusion in Tolkien's work because they add to the realism/credibility of the secondary world (especially the invented ones). It would be a strange world that had no flowers. Putting flowers in Middle-earth, and inventing new ones for it, is just one aspect of the Professor's attention to nature, to the visible world, which makes his subcreation so convincing.

But there's more than that. To me, Tolkien's flowers sort of embody the genius loci, the spirit of the place where they grow. Try to imagine Lothlorien without elanor and niphredil, gold and white! Their colours mirror the silver and gold of the mallorn trees, and together they set the visual key for the whole location, embodied again in Galadriel's white dress and golden hair! The whole country is white or grey and golden in my mind's eye.

The Morgul flowers are the evil counterpoint to this, their white a spectral, leprous colour. A corruption of what is often considered fairest in nature, they're easily the creepiest thing in the whole description of the Morgul vale, far creepier than the rotating tower head or the twisted statues. Brr.

Then there's of course simbelmyne, rooted in the graves of dead kings and emblematic of the history of Rohan, and probably more than escape me now. But the flower moment that came first to my mind when I saw this topic is the seregon, the red flower mantling the top of Amon Rűdh in the story of Túrin, presaging the brutal fate of his band: "Blood on the hill-top"... This scene and Andróg's words never fail to give me the shivers at every reread.

(The new avvie, if anyone's wondering, is no Tolkien flower but the Siebenstern ("Sevenfold Star", Trientalis europaea), emblem of the Fichtelgebirge, the hills where I grew up.)
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Old 08-01-2015, 04:40 AM   #3
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Great topic, Inzil!

There's probably no more famous lines about flowers than mad Ophelia's ramblings where she speaks to absent people, gifting them with specific flowers, in Hamlet. Shakespeare's lines remind us that the medieval world had an entire language of flowers that was slowly being forgotten. Such floriography became popular again in Victorian times, when people would create nosegays of flowers as secret, coded messages to each other.(Or at least their writers did.) Tolkien the medievalist would know the ancient allegories of which Ophelia speaks, but through his early interest in Victorian fairies he would also be aware of the nineteenth century tradition of associating flowers with various meanings. So there is a long literary tradition of the language of flowers which he would be aware of. His interest in depicting flowers, then, would arise from both his personal delight in them and this literary tradition and is a perfect complement to his interest in the natural world which was being blighted in his time by industry. This is not to say that his use of flowers follows the particular allegorical meanings of these early traditions, but rather that he could be confident in using flowers as tropes.

Pitch's point is I think well-taken, that flowers are a kind of genius loci in Tolkien's work (rather than relying on any particular meaning from the literary tradition). There are two other examples which stand out for me.

First is Tom Bombadil's water lilies which he brings home to Goldberry, and which she has placed in pots seemingly floating around the floor of their home. The water lilies reflect the 'backstory' of Tom and Goldberry, told in the early poem of Tom but not identified in LotR.

The second concerns Luthien, whose name I think in Sindarin means 'daughter of flowers'. The Silmarillion tells us that "there in the forest of Neldoreth Luthien was born, and the white flowers of niphredil came forth to greet her as stars from the earth." (chapter 10, "Of the Sindar") Luthien's dancing in a forest clearing among the hemlocks (small white flowers) is what arouses Beren and begins their famous romance. The incident is said to derive from Tolkien's own experience watching Edith dance as they were walking in the woods near Roos, England, but it is clearly well integrated with the symbols of the Legendarium.

So, two examples of flowers and romance that have nothing to do with roses. Clearly the floral industry could take a few lessons from Tolkien.
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Old 08-01-2015, 05:39 AM   #4
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I also vaguely recall from the early chapters of The Sil that flowers were said to spring up at the coming of certain Ainur (Vana, possibly someone else as well -Melian perhaps?) This, rather than reflect the character of the place, reflects the character of the character. It's not an original "device" in this case; it has been used since the times of ye olde myths and legends.

I completely agree with Pitch. Flowers are an essential part of their place, and also they just feel natural. They add to the mood. You know how Merry describes the mountains in Dunherg? You know how the hobbits, and later the "hunters", describe Fangorn forest? It just gives you a feel of the place, and makes that place alive for you, makes you feel like you're there as well. Flowers do that too. Any nature does.

Other than that, I can't really add anything to BB and Pitch. Pretty much what they said.
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Old 08-01-2015, 11:56 AM   #5
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For what free association is worth, my first thought on reading this topic was this wonderful scene:
“Gandalf, Gandalf! Good gracious me! Not the wandering wizard that gave Old Took a pair of magic diamond studs that fastened themselves and never came undone till ordered? Not the fellow who used to tell such wonderful tales at parties, about dragons and goblins and giants and the rescue of princesses and the unexpected luck of widows’ sons? Not the man that used to make such particularly excellent fireworks! I remember those! Old Took used to have them on Midsummer’s Eve. Splendid! They used to go up like great lilies and snapdragons and laburnums of fire and hang in the twilight all evening!” You will notice already that Mr. Baggins was not quite so prosy as he liked to believe, also that he was very fond of flowers.
I don't know that there's anything to it, but I enjoy thinking of Bilbo as being very much a stand-in for Tolkien here, both in his love for flowers, and imagination under the appearance of dull conformity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
So, does the use of flowers add (or maybe subtract) from your enjoyment of Tolkien's books? Do they have any special emotional impact at a particular moment?
The Minas Morgul instance is the most interesting to me, since despite its brevity, it's perhaps the most extreme example of the corruption of nature in the Legendarium. Mirkwood, the Old Forest, I still get the sense of nature struggling against being dominated by evil. In Mordor, nature has been largely (but not totally) obliterated. In Morgul Vale, the "noisome fields" are evil itself.

Also, like many things in Middle-earth, I'm sure it inspired Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles, but in this case the writing feels ahead of its time: more like something Donaldson would have discovered himself in the Spoiled Plains if Tolkien hadn't beaten him to the punch by twenty years.
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Old 08-01-2015, 12:04 PM   #6
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I forgot to post this link. Its academic tone might be a bit dense or boring (it's "The Medieval Garden Enclosed" from the Metropolitan Museum of Art) but the selected pictures of medieval works are jam-packed with images of flowers and the information given about the flowers shows their allegorical use well. Plus of course I get to include a picture with a cat at the expense of Professor Tolkien.

Such pictures suggest that Tolkien was not alone in his "floral fixation".

Plants in Medieval Art

And as another example of his use of flowers, we can look at the names he gives Hobbit lasses. Rosie Cotton of course. But there's also Pansy, Lily, Poppy, Peony, Myrtle, Belladonna, Pervinca, Salvia, Primula, Daisy, Marigold, Elanor--taken from the genealogies in LotR.
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Old 08-01-2015, 02:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
The second concerns Luthien, whose name I think in Sindarin means 'daughter of flowers'. The Silmarillion tells us that "there in the forest of Neldoreth Luthien was born, and the white flowers of niphredil came forth to greet her as stars from the earth." (chapter 10, "Of the Sindar") Luthien's dancing in a forest clearing among the hemlocks (small white flowers) is what arouses Beren and begins their famous romance.
That's an interesting explanation of Lúthien's name. I remember the Etymologies (which I can't for the life of me put my hands on right now although I have it lying around somewhere) derive it from an older form *luktiēnē "enchantress", from a base LUK- to do with, IIRC, putting a spell on somebody. It's probably safe to assume that the Prof changed his mind about the question a few times. "Flower" in Sindarin, in any case, is loth (as in Lothlórien, "Lórien in Flower" or "Dreamflower"), not luth, although there may be some umlaut or ablaut involved.

However, I digress. Lúthien's dance among the hemlocks is, of course, an iconic image often chosen by illustrators (Ted Nasmith's version here is probably the best known). There's also the beautiful floral heraldic devices Tolkien drew for her (reproduced in J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, and viewable online e.g. here). It's an interesting coincidence by the way that Idril Celebrindal, the other elven woman to marry a mortal, also had a device derived from flowers (in her case cornflowers, menelluin in Quenya).

Thanks for the link, Bęthberry! The loving detail those late medieval artists portrayed their flowers with is amazing and would, I'm sure, have pleased our meticulous subcreator.

IxnaY, I think Bilbo was a stand-in for Tolkien in more than one respect - quite obviously as the author of Translations from the Elvish (i.e. the Silmarillion as Tolkien then hoped to publish it some day), and very likely also in his love for flowers. Actually the flower names Bilbo mentions in the quote you gave remind me of a passage somewhere in Letters where the Prof recounts his discussion with a College gardener in Oxford about the proper name of, I think it was nasturtiums. He cared about such things, both the flowers themselves and their names.

Agreed about the Morgul Vale - it's way creepier than either Mirkwood (which is just dark and gloomy and full of critters) or Mordor (which is just dead and horrible). (I also see echoes of the Morgul flowers - and of the Dead Marshes too - in the Spoiled Plains and the Sarangrave, but I agree that they feel like naturally derived from the premises of Donaldson's world; much like his MacGuffin needed to be a ring regardless of Tolkien.)

One thing just struck me: a lot of the emblematic flowers we've mentioned up to now are white. Niphredil, simbelmyne, Lúthien's hemlocks and (perverted) the Morgul flowers - more than any single other colour so far. Why do you think this is? Just an aesthetic preference of Tolkien's or is there some symbolism going on?
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Old 08-01-2015, 05:05 PM   #8
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The references to and descriptions of flowers certainly add to my enjoyment of the books, and there is no doubt that they add to the texture, depth and verisimilitude of the stories. I am not very widely read in fantasy writing apart from Tolkien, but I wonder if this seemingly small detail could be one manifestation of why Tolkien's Middle-earth is so utterly convincing? Because he cared about details like flowers and the moon rising and setting in the right place? A 'traditionally' feminine concern (the first of these) which showed the kind of depth and attention to detail that sets him apart from quite a lot of other writers?

And who can forget this very moving example, from Journey to the Cross-roads? Only the last sentence of it is spoken by Frodo in the book, but the narrative before it was also put into Frodo's lines in the BBC version. It went something like this:

'But look, Sam. He wears a crown again. A crown of trailing flowers, like white stars. They cannot conquer forever!'

Another very memorable sentence for me, also from Book IV, is:

'Ithilien, the garden of Gondor now desolate, kept still a dishevelled dryad loveliness.' That may not refer to a particular flower, but I think it follows references to anemones and other wild blooms.

Pitchwife, I too have often wondered about all the flowers mentioned outside the Shire (and Ithilien) being white or golden (except for seregon, which I don't think is mentioned in LOTR). Funnily enough, even the Shire flower Sam mentions when referring to Galadriel is a 'daffadowndilly.' Ithilien's flora has all the colours of the rainbow, I think, and the Shire's certainly has ... it seems to be mainly the flowers not of our world (or Age of the world) that are white or gold (although niphredil is as near as damn it a snowdrop).

If there is a symbolic level to it, the white and gold of the flowers makes me think of inner purification and sublimation coming with the travails of the quest; a centering of all efforts on that one goal; a sanctification through suffering. Very like the light that began to shine in Frodo and was even stronger in Ithilien. At the time when elanor and niphredil were first mentioned, Gandalf had just sacrificed himself, and that seemed to me to set a clear precedent for Frodo, which is evident from the way he speaks and acts from then on, even if it still takes Boromir's attack to make him finally leave the company. Aragorn is also holding a bloom of elanor at Cerin Amroth when he speaks to Frodo of the dark paths that they still must tread.
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Last edited by Pervinca Took; 08-06-2015 at 08:24 AM. Reason: Typoed flora with fauna! And I learned both words from the blurb on the back of a Tolkien book, in much tenderer years.
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Old 08-01-2015, 05:44 PM   #9
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For no apparent reason, other than I have been left alone this evening to putter around and not do someone else's bidding, I have compiled an "unofficial" flower/plant/tree naming convention for Hobbits. I was amazed at the number involved, so don't blame me if I missed a few. Once again, Tolkien flummoxes me:

Amaranth Brandybuck
Angelica Baggins
Asphodel (Brandybuck) Burrows
Bell (Goodchild) Gamgee - Bell could be short for Bellflower, as she had daughters Daisy and Marigold (Cotton)
Belladonna (Took) Baggins
Camellia Sackville
Celandine Brandybuck
Cotton family
Daisy (Baggins) Boffin - also Daisy Gamgee and Daisy Gardner
Eglantine (Banks) Took
Elanor "the Fair" (Gardner) Fairbairn
Estella (Bolger) Brandybuck - see "amaryllis estella", Estella is Old French for "star"
Goldilocks (Gardner) Took - Goldilocks is another name for Buttercup
Lalia (Clayhanger) Took - a "Laelia" is a form of orchid
Laura (Grubb) Baggins - Laura is the feminine form of the Latin "Laurus" meaning Laurel
Lily (Baggins) Goodbody - and Lily (Brown) Cotton
Lobelia (Bracegirdle) Sackville-Baggins
Malva "Headstrong" Brandybuck
Marigold (Gamgee) Cotton
May (Gamgee) - in a literary sense "May" can mean "one's bloom or prime", also Mayflower
Melilot Brandybuck
Mentha Brandybuck
Mimosa (Bunce) Baggins
Mirabella (Took) Brandybuck
Mugwort family
Myrtle Burrows
Pansy (Baggins) Bolger
Peony (Baggins) Burrows
Pervinca Took
Pimpernel Took
Poppy (Chubb-Baggins) Bolger
Primrose Gardner
Primula (Brandybuck) Baggins
Prisca (Baggins) Bolger
Rosa (Baggins) Took - "Rosa" is Italian/Latin for Rose
Rosamunda (Took) Bolger - Latin phrases rosa munda, meaning "pure rose", and rosa mundi, meaning "rose of the world"
Rose "Rosie" (Cotton) Gardner
Rowan Gammidge
Salvia (Brandybuck) Bolger


Other interesting hobbit names I found while looking up others:

Named after gems or minerals
Adamanta (Chubb) Took - adamant, adamantine
Esmeralda (Took) Brandybuck - "Esmerelda" means emerald
Diamond "of Long Cleeve" Took
Pearl Took
Ruby (Bolger) Baggins and Ruby Gardner

Named after insects
Belba (Baggins) Bolger - Belba is a mite of the arachnid family
Berylla (Boffin) Baggins - Berylla is a sort of butterfly
Maggot family
Grubb family - "grub" a type of worm
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Old 08-02-2015, 06:08 AM   #10
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Quick note- "Cotton" doesn't refer to the fibrous plant, but is a worn-down form of "Cotman"

"Grubb" is less likely, I think, to refer to insect larvae than the verb "to grub", dig: a very Hobbitish name, and suited to the auctioneer Grubbs' partner Burrowes.

Breaking the list down further- "Mugwort" is an example of the botanical names which Tolkien tells us were predominant in the Bree-land among Hobbits and Men alike: Butterburr, Ferny, Goatleaf, Appledore, Heathertoes

Shire-hobbit girl children seem to have been overwhelmingly named for flowers, with a few gemstones thrown in.
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Old 08-02-2015, 07:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitchwife View Post
That's an interesting explanation of Lúthien's name. I remember the Etymologies (which I can't for the life of me put my hands on right now although I have it lying around somewhere) derive it from an older form *luktiēnē "enchantress", from a base LUK- to do with, IIRC, putting a spell on somebody. It's probably safe to assume that the Prof changed his mind about the question a few times. "Flower" in Sindarin, in any case, is loth (as in Lothlórien, "Lórien in Flower" or "Dreamflower"), not luth, although there may be some umlaut or ablaut involved.
Yes Tolkien appears to have changed his mind. As you likely know Etymologies generally dates to the mid to later 1930s, and continued a bit into the early draft writing for The Lord of the Rings. It was ultimately abandoned and reflects and old linguistic scenario.

But well after that, post-publication of The Lord of the Rings, in Words Phrases And Passages Tolkien rather explained.

Quote:
S. Lúthien 'daughter of flowers', lúth 'blossom, inflorescence'
Some websites still have "enchantress", and some refer to both meanings as if both are internal. Unles there is evidence that Tolkien retained the older meaning and thus intended a double maning for this name, my guess is that "daughter of flowers" simply supersedes the older idea.
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Old 08-02-2015, 12:07 PM   #12
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For those of you familiar with Tolkien's artwork, he drew/painted several versions of a tree with dozens of different flowers blooming on it.
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Old 08-02-2015, 02:21 PM   #13
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I knew I could count on you, Galin, to clear up the linguistic question. Got to say though I have a purely subjective preference for the translation "enchantress", reminiscent of the feats of 'elven magic' and beguiling Lúthien performed with her hair and, very important to me, agentive in meaning, whereas "daughter of flowers" presents her as beautiful and close to nature, but nothing more - kinda lame IMO. But who am I to argue with The Man Himself?

Pervinca - oh shame on me, I had verily forgotten the fallen king with this crown of small white stars and yellow stonecrop! Thanks for reminding me. Also for the quote about Ithilien's "dishevelled dryad loveliness", one of my favourite phrases of descriptive prose in Tolkien; so evocative, isn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pervinca Took
Ithilien's fauna has all the colours of the rainbow, I think, and the Shire's certainly has ... it seems to be mainly the flowers not of our world (or Age of the world) that are white or gold (although niphredil is as near as damn it a snowdrop).
This kind of fits an idea that has come to my mind, namely that white flowers may mark thresholds to the Otherworld - whether niphredil in Lórien, a simulacrum of the Undying Lands where time passes differently to the outside world, or simbelmyne on the grave mounds in Rohan and Elendil's tomb on Halifirien, bordering on the sphere of the Dead, or the Morgul flowers in the vale where the keep of the undead Wraiths guards the entrance to Mordor. Any other instances of white flowers in strange places?

Your explanation from "sanctification through suffering" works for me, too. I had never considered that Frodo might have seen Gandalf's sacrifice as a model to be followed, but it sure makes sense. Gandalf being clad in white after his resurrection in the same place where niphedil and elanor grow may also tie into this.

Mithadan, I believe you're referring to the Tree of Amalion, a beautiful rendering of which can be viewed here. I think there's a connection to Niggle's Tree, especially with the Mountains in the far background on this version.

While we're on the subject of trees (a stretch, I know, but Flora encompasses all plant life, doesn't it?), A Description of Númenor in UT has a passage about "the evergreen and fragrant trees" growing around the bay of Eldanna, brought from the West by the visiting Eldar:
Quote:
Originally Posted by A Description of Númenor
They were the greatest delight of Númenor, and they were remembered in many songs long after they had perished for ever, for few ever flowered east of the Land of Gift: oiolairë and lairelossë, nessamelda, vardarianna, taniquelassë, and yavannamirë with its globed and scarlet fruits.
A few lines further down it names "the mighty golden tree malinornë" (that's a mallorn to you and me), and on the next page "the laurinquë in which the people delighted for its flowers, for it had no other use". Names that paint the beauty of the trees they signify with the harmony of vowels and consonants. Tolkien is to my knowledge pretty unique among fantasy authors in that he not only gave so much attention to flowers and trees but invented his own botanic nomenclature for them.
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Old 08-03-2015, 11:02 AM   #14
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Sorry for the tardy reply, Pitch. Glad to see that Galin has pitched in.

I was tracking down where I had read that Luthien was 'daughter of flower's. It is in the article on Luthien in Tolkien Gateway, which unfortunately does not have a reference. However, the articles there on both loth and luth refer to the Tolkien reference Galin cites, from Parma Aldalamberon XVII.

HoMe II also provides another interesting context. Luthien, Man of Luthany is the name given to Aelfwine by the Elves, where Luthany is used for England. At this early date, only Tinuviel is used for Melian's daughter. (I think--it's been a few years since I read II.)

My naming of Rosie Cotton was not meant to imply that 'Cotton' was a floral name. My reference was to her first name, as the context suggested, and I used her full name only to grace her with her full identification.
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Old 08-05-2015, 06:30 AM   #15
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Leaf Voronwë's description of the flowers in Nan-tathren

A lovely passage I've always liked, since reading it in 'Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin' in Unfinished Tales, is Voronwë's description to Tuor of Nan-tathren, where he delayed in his mission to the Bay of Balar. In particular, I've always loved his description of the flowers there:

In that land Narog joins Sirion, and they haste no more, but flow broad and quiet through living meads; and all about the shining river are flaglilies like a blossoming forest; and the grass is filled with flowers, like gems, like bells, like flames of red and gold, like a waste of many-coloured stars in a firmament of green. (Emphasis mine)

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Old 08-05-2015, 08:41 AM   #16
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Great topic, Faramir! For me, the references and descriptions of flowers, herbs, trees and other plants add greatly to my enjoyment of Tolkien's books and to the feeling of Middle Earth being real. This is of course because I myself am fond of flowers and plants and like to be able to name them. Since English isn't my mothertongue, I had to look up many many names, and learnt a lot that way!

Another symbolic use of a white flower is Aragorn's comparison of Eowyn to
"a white flower standing straight and proud, shapely as a lily, and yet knew that it was hard, as if wrought by elf-wrights out of steel. Or was it, maybe, a frost that had turned its sap to ice, and so it stood, bitter-sweet, still fair to see, but stricken, soon to fall and die?"
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Old 08-05-2015, 09:42 AM   #17
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Thumbs up Another good one

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Originally Posted by Guinevere View Post
Another symbolic use of a white flower is Aragorn's comparison of Eowyn to "a white flower standing straight and proud, shapely as a lily, and yet knew that it was hard, as if wrought by elf-wrights out of steel. Or was it, maybe, a frost that had turned its sap to ice, and so it stood, bitter-sweet, still fair to see, but stricken, soon to fall and die?"
That's another good one, Guinevere! I've always liked the symbolism in that comparison since I first read that passage in LotR. It made me, at the time, think of a recently cut flower that looked fine, but which was soon to die.
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Old 08-05-2015, 10:09 PM   #18
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What about Urwen/Lailaith whom Turin describes to Finduilas as "a yellow flower in the green grass of spring" before contrasting Finduilas herself as a "golden tree".

I also did not know that Tolkien changed the meaning of Luthien to "daughter of flowers" however I am glad I do now. The meaning "enchantress" has always struck me as rather odd as a name of an Elf. A name given to her by mortals, perhaps, but not by her parents.

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Old 08-18-2015, 08:57 AM   #19
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Leaf

I loved this thread so much that I couldn't bare it dying. I had nothing to say until now, since I'm visiting the boyfriend and my books are all 500 miles away.

I remember a post on tumblr talking about how Tolkien would always stop and gaze at the flowers and trees on his walk. This annoyed those around him because he stopped for too long! It got me thinking about the botanical gardens in Oxford that Tolkien liked to go to so much. When Lauri and I were in Britain, we went there and made a point to sit under Tolkien's favourite tree. I can see that his love of nature in all forms has impacted his works. I was never one to really know the names of flowers, not from disinterest of course, but I did learn some new names of plants from LotR. I now smile every time I see a camellia plant in the store and was delighted to discover that the scientific name for the tea plant is Camellia sinensis. It always reminds me of hobbits. I also have a fondness for lobelia plants now because of Lobelia Sackville-Baggins.

Oh, I think I've rambled a bit on this post. I guess what I was trying to get at was that I am inspired by Tolkien's love of all things botanical and the descriptions of landscapes and flowers were what really drew me into the books as a whole.
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Old 08-18-2015, 10:37 AM   #20
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Leaf

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Originally Posted by TheGreatElvenWarrior View Post
. . . . It got me thinking about the botanical gardens in Oxford that Tolkien liked to go to so much. When Lauri and I were in Britain, we went there and made a point to sit under Tolkien's favourite tree. . . . .
I guess what I was trying to get at was that I am inspired by Tolkien's love of all things botanical and the descriptions of landscapes and flowers were what really drew me into the books as a whole.
That's a wonderful inspiration, TGEW. It is just as legitimate as those who come to Tolkien for the warfare and the fighting and the action. (*coughs* I won't mention any film directors.) I'm sure there are many here who share it.

This thread might also be the place to note here on the Downs that Tolkien's beloved pinus nigra has fallen. Two large branches cracked and fell down and the tree was deemed too unstable by arborists, so the rest was cut down.

There is a video of the split and fall: Tolkien's tree falls
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Old 08-18-2015, 03:28 PM   #21
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White Tree

Gods, Bęthberry, that video was heartbreaking. To see such a giant who has endured in strength and beauty for such a long time stripped and dismantled like that... It's so much like watching the decay of a venerable and beloved elder. Very, very sad.

As long as I've had any personal relationship with nature at all trees have stood out to me as special, closer to us humans than any other plant in their gnarled individuality and dignity. Whether Tolkien's passages about trees kindled this feeling or merely amplified it is impossible for me to tell now. I've known trees I considered friends and some that were my teachers and counselors, and whenever I see trees mindlessly felled under some hollow architectural pretence I long for a march of Ents to avenge them. Unfortunately all the Ents seem to have gone tree-ish nowadays, leaving it to us to defend their herds against Saruman's modern imitators.
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Old 08-24-2015, 08:07 PM   #22
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I've been told, quite seriously, that is is healthy to hug a tree--and, no, that was not a joke at treehuggers' expense. A way to connect.

I probably should have written a more evocative introduction to that video of the pinus nigra splitting. But the action is so poignant that to me it is almost sublime and I didn't want to ruin anyone's reaction by presaging it with my limited words.
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