We have a buddleia in our garden just about to flower. Buddleias are renowned for attracting butterflies. But when my father bought one my mother scoffed.
“What do you want to buy a bomb-site plant for? They’re weeds.”
It is true. I remember the beautiful purple, lilac and white flowers with their lanky stems growing abundantly on the bomb sites that were part of my childhood in the 1950s. It took a long time to clear up after World War II. Those lovely flowers and the butterflies that visited these derelict spaces gave us hope.
We associate poppies with war and they did indeed grow abundantly among the trenches of the Great War (World War I). We might consider them as symbols of spilt blood but the truth is that when there are great tunings over of soil dormant poppy seeds are awoken. Thousands of poppies appeared also after the Channel Tunnel was built.
The white rose became the symbol of a German resistance run by German young people in the Nazi time with main players being siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl. They were both executed. Many schools are now named after them: Geschwister Scholl Schule.
The edelweiss make us think of The Sound of Music. However, it has another resistance significance. There was a reaction against the Hitler Youth and an alternative group was created for young people: the Edelweiss Pirates, or Edelweißpiraten. The edelweiss was originally associated with purity and Swiss patriotism. The Pirates wore their hair loose and long in contrast to the very short hair of the Hitler Youth. At the age of eighteen they were forced to join the army. Himmler ordered a crackdown on the Pirates on 25 October 1944. Their badge depicts the edelweiss, a flower that brought hope.