Saxifraga × urbium
St. Patrick's Cabbage, Whimsey, Prattling Parnell, Look Up And Kiss Me
Facts & Folkore:
London pride is an evergreen perennial garden flowering plant also called St. Patrick's cabbage, whimsey, prattling Parnell, and look up and kiss me. Interesting, before 1700 “London pride” often referred to Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus).
The true London pride is native to the Spanish Pyrenees, while its cousin saxifraga spathularis (the plant to which the name St Patrick's cabbage more correctly belongs), comes from western Ireland.
Although the language of flowers associates this flower with frivolity, Bishop Walsham How (1823–1897) wrote a poem to the flower rebuking it for having the sin of pride. When told the flower had the name because Londoners were proud of it he wrote another poem apologizing to it!
Tradition holds that Saxifraga × urbium rapidly colonised the bombed sites left by the London Blitz of the early 1940s, becoming more deeply intertwined with the resilience of London and Londoners. A song by Noël Coward, celebrating London and the flower, achieved great popularity during the World War II years. The city and the flower even have a special remembrance day, July 27th.
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