It turns out this post is more about what the Star of Bethlehem flower is not.
Life is not predictable.
Until this moment, I’ve always thought the plant, Agapanthus, was also known as the Star of Bethlehem. I planned to end my blogging year with symbolic reflections on this beautiful flower. While researching some gardening sites for horticultural notes, I discovered my mistake. Imagine that – a whole life of taxonomic error!
It turns out the Star of Bethlehem is quite different from the Agapanthus although some previous classifications would have them related.
Nevertheless, because I have some lovely specimens in full bloom in my neighbourhood that I want to share with you, I will continue.
The name Agapanthus is derived from scientific Greek: αγάπη (agape – “love”), άνθος (anthos – “flower”) (ref). Love Flower. And what’s not to love about this beautiful plant?
Best planted en-masse, come spring and summer, balls of small, intense blue or sometimes white flowers, wave on long stalks above green strappy leaves.
Although I’ve been under the misapprehension of this flower’s identity for most of my life, it doesn’t change my appreciation of the flower’s beauty. It doesn’t change the way I feel when I come upon drifts of blue and green waving in the breeze, the way it lifts my spirits and makes me anticipate Christmas.
So what’s in a name? Taxonomies are human-imposed, arbitrary kinds of endeavours. And they don’t always agree. It seems we must label and categorise to ‘impose order’ over our world, to allocate meaning, to think of things in a prescribed way.
Despite my identification error, I’ll always associate the Agapanthus with Christmas. And I’ll probably struggle not to refer to it as Star of Bethlehem. But the important lesson for me here is, things are what we call them. Things are embedded with symbolism. They become how we perceive them. For me, it’s a glass half full or half empty kind of thing, but even still, and always – a half glass.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Wishing all my fellow bloggers a peaceful, love-filled Christmas and festive season. I will see you all in the New Year.