Love Lies Bleeding

There is an interesting plant in my yard that everyone who sees comments on. I had a couple of those plants last year, too, but I didn’t know if the plants were friends or foes (flowers or weeds, in other words), so when they grew too tall for where they were planted, I pulled them up.

This year, instead of pulling them up, I left them in place for a conversation piece. A couple of times I tried to track down the name of the plant, but apparently, I put in the wrong search terms because I tried again today, and the answer popped right up. The weird looking ropy red flowers are called foxtail amaranth. It’s an annual that seems to have been included in a wildflower seed mix that I threw out there last winter, so unless I buy more seeds, this is the only time I will have the flowers.

Here they are, along the fence behind the zinnias:

And here is a close-up:

The flowers are also called Love Lies Bleeding, a holdover from the Victorian era, when flowers were used to send messages. The message of this flower is hopelessness or hopeless love, which seems a mean thing to want to say to someone in words, let alone in flowers.

I was going to plagiarize another of my posts to fill out this tale of “talking” flowers, but instead, I’ll just direct you to this link if you want to find more “Meanings of Flowers”.

Love Lies Bleeding would be a great title for a book since the phrase could be used to set scenes and develop themes throughout the story: my loved one is lying there bleeding; you broke my heart, and now it lies bleeding; my lover lied and now is bleeding.

Unfortunately, many other authors had the same idea — that Love Lies Bleeding would be a great name for a book — because a quick check on book sites showed a whole library’s worth of books using that title or a variation thereof.

Of course, if I really wanted to use the title, there’s no reason I couldn’t since titles aren’t copyrighted (I could also legally name a book Gone with the Wind if I wanted to, but that would be nothing short of author suicide). I prefer using less trite titles, however, and anyway, there is no book in me at the moment, so a title is the last thing I need.

Not so the plant itself. There are a lot of “last things I need” in my garden — weeds and weedy grasses top that list — but even though the foxtail amaranth isn’t on that list, it doesn’t add much to my yard except as a conversation piece, which, come to think of it, is actually a good thing to have. And now that I know the name of this plant, it not only will serve as a conversation starter, but can become the whole conversation, because truly, Love Lies Bleeding is an evocative name with an interesting history.


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

2 Responses to “Love Lies Bleeding”

  1. Joe Says:

    With respect to the language of flowers, I wonder how Victorian people sent their messages in winter? Maybe if they had the means, they could have flowers grown in a conservatory, or maybe they painted the flowers on paper and enclosed them in letters.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Interesting question. My guess would be a conservatory. Learning how to speak with flowers seems to be something rich or at least richer people would have time to do.

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