This week our November mornings have been damp and dark. Yet I spied a borage plant in the corner of the field and the bright, sapphire blue, star-shaped flowers inspired me and invigorated me. Some love and some hate borage but why?
Borage the Weed
The ‘haters’, I believe, are those who have had borage in their gardens and become ‘overrun’ with the herb. It is certainly resilient but, for me, that is one of its attractions. Technically, it flowers May to August but, in reality, here it was in the field sending out waves of light, colour and energy while so much around it was drab, leaves were falling and decaying underfoot. Coming from a gardening background, perhaps I ought to cherish the plants that require specialist growing techniques, but really, I love the ones that ‘do it for themselves’. Borage is often an escapee! It grows on rough land wherever the seeds fall – a true but beautiful, healthy weed!
Borage for Bravery
In medicinal terms, this herb has been used for centuries. On a spiritual level it is good for any situation that is difficult to face. It was said to inspire bravery in the Middle Ages. Ladies would embroider it on scarves for knights fighting in tournaments and warriors were said to be given drinks that included the flower before they went into battle. An old English adage was ‘Sow Borage, sow courage’. Nowadays, in its physical form, it is mainly used as a hot infusion to relieve catarrh and colds. The dried flowers and leaves can also be used as a diuretic.
As the language of flowers developed so too did their Victorian meanings. These often referred to the look of the plant. Borage, with its bristly, course, hairy and stubbly stems was interpreted as meaning blunt or rough mannered. Robert Tyas (1811 – 1879) suggested that a man under the influence of a ‘warming cordial’ such as borage, may well be given courage, but perhaps a courage that leads to inappropriate or brusque comments.
The meaning of Borage
On that murky November morning, when the borage originally caught my eye, it felt ominous. Being in touch with nature means that often flowers, trees, birds and animals take on significance and seem to bring messages. As the week progressed it became clear that someone near to me was facing a situation that required great courage.
For me the attraction of the Borage had been how those bristly stalks and leaves held the dew drops. It caused me to take a breath and admire the unexpected beauty in front of me. The message from the plant was a reminder of how important it is to take one day at a time and see the beauty in the present.
I like to remember the brilliant, heavenly blue flowers though. These flowers can be crystalised using sugar syrup and caster sugar to bring a sweetness to your life at a time when perhaps you need a little extra bravery.
The Flower Writer