Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sweet William

Years ago, I bought a packet of Sweet William seeds
and planted them in front of my bay window.
I was excited to see the green leaves coming up from the soil,
and then the most beautiful pink and red and white flowers 
eventually bloomed on long stalks.
The perfume was subtle and sweet, hence the "sweet" part of their name, I guess.

Photo credit: Marilylle Soveran,

I thought of Sweet Williams after finding them listed in 
Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers, published on the Internet Archive. 
The article mentioned old English herbals 
describing the Sweet William as 
"worthy the respect of the Greatest Ladies who are Lovers of Flowers."

Photo credit: Duncan,

The book also solved the puzzle of why these flowers are called "William."
That part of the name was formed by analogy from the French oeillet,
which was heard as "Willie" to English speakers.
Then Willie was glammed up to the more staid term Sweet William.
I guess it wouldn't do to have a formal garden where you could get the willies.

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