Molucella (Bells of Ireland) - The meaning of flowers
Molucella - also known as "Bells of Ireland" - is a wonderfully versatile flower, used widely throughout the flower industry. While retaining a distinctly rustic charm, echoing the traditional lines of the foxglove, it also gives an eclectic modern edge to many flower combinations; it also looks fantastic on its own, just 6-7 stems standing tall in a stylish glass vase. The marvelous lime green bells of the flower calyx make this a consistently popular flower - and deservedly so! While "Molucella laevis" is often referred to as Bells of Ireland in sunny England - and the rest of the UK - it also has other common names depending on locality. In Australia and New Zealand for example, molucella is more commonly known as Canterbury Bells.
Whether molucella is actually a flower or variety of foliage is often open to debate. In fact, molucella is a member of the mint family and has a unique perfume all of its own. Bells of Ireland originally came from Syria and the eastern Mediterranean; a hardy annual with flowers that never fail to impress, blooms which are the most exquisite shade of lime green.
The so-called "bells" - more correctly known as the calyx - can be found along the length of the stem, which often reaches a height of 2ft, possibly more. Each of the bells conceals the flowers protection mechanism; a series of small, white spikes which are surprisingly sharp. Care should therefore be taken when handling molucella.
Best grown in light sandy soil, the molucella plant also requires a good, openly sunny spot. Flower right through spring, summer and into autumn, Bells of Ireland offer interest and hence remain popular with gardeners. The stems of the flower are hollow, like a pipe, and often have quite a woody appearance. Despite this, they are relatively molucella and can be easily broken if care is not taken.
In the home - or at the flower shop - it is best to keep molucella cool, with a good supply of fresh water. Position your flowers away from direct sunlight, radiators, vents and other appliances that give off heat. A cool window ledge which receives lots of natural light but only minimal direct sun is the perfect spot for a bouquet. A coffee table or dining table is often a good location as long as the room is kept relatively cool.
Since Victorian times, Bells of Ireland have been considered a symbol of good luck - the perfect flower to send to someone starting a new job, or moving to a new home.