Who wants to plant a Pre-Raphaelite garden?

My creative twelve year old daughter decided that she wants to plant a “fairy garden”. She recently purchased the collected works of Cicely Mary Barker (June 28, 1895 – February 16, 1973). Most people are familiar with Barker’s Flower Fairies, but in case you are not here is a brief bio with examples of her work. My daughter chose the flowers depicted in her favorites poems and illustrations (her most favorites being Poppies, Foxglove, Columbines, and Hollyhocks).

I have to say, I’m impressed with her idea. And then I thought… what about a Pre-Raphaelite garden?

What flowers would you choose? Ophelia’s flowers, mentioned in Hamlet and beautifully depicted floating in the water by Millais) would be a great start. As would Acanthus, a favorite of William Morris (thanks to Earthly Paradise!) The ivy scaling the wall behind Rosseti’s Proserpine jumps to my mind also. And the lilies in both The Girlhood of the Mary Virgin and Ecce Ancilla Domini .

Hmmm. What else? What flowers would you include if you could plant your very own Pre-Raphaelite garden? Forget climate and planting zones and whatever soil type you may have. What would you plant?

By the way. Want to know what’s growing on my windowsill right now? A pot of Basil!

4 thoughts on “Who wants to plant a Pre-Raphaelite garden?”

  1. When I first read the title of your post I thought, I wish I could do that! A Pre-Raph garden! But things don’t grow well here in Texas. The more I read, the more I realized I was wrong. I CAN think of Rossetti’s Proserpine while I grow my Ivy! And my Roses do remind me of Waterhouse! I can see preraphaelite beauty everywhere if I take the time to look for it! Thank you!!!

    What was their maxim? Truth to nature? Just by being mindful and paying attention to the nature around me I can embrace the Pre-Raphaelite sense of beauty.

  2. What a fun discussion idea!

    The first plant to spring to mind for me was a poppy plant. Both because of its use in Pre-Raphaelite art, and its over-use by the artists themselves! Narcissus would be lovely too, as a nod to Waterhouse’s artwork. Or of course any of the flowers in the book Flora Symbolica: Flowers in Pre-Raphaelite Art.

    I do love floral symbolism as an idea, even if I know nothing about it 😉

  3. What a great idea–I wish I had a garden to plant in! By the way, Stephanie, be sure to submit an article to my Art History Carnival! I would love to include a submission from you. You can include a post about anything art related! There’s a link to submit your post on the left hand side of my page. I hope I get a lot of submissions–I was shocked when I found out there wasn’t an Art History Carnival.

    Have a great week,


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