Posted by: Memorizing Nature | October 2, 2010


Purple, the preferred colour of girls, bees and royalty.

Long ago, only kings could afford to wear purple fabric, as the rare dye was manufactured from mucus milked out of the spiky sea snail Bolinus brandaris. Later, mauve was the first synthetic tint discovered, creating an indelible style for the Victorian age and signifying the birth of the chemical industry.

Purple is both natural and unreal. A mix of red and blue, offering neither warmth nor a cool reprieve. This is a pigment that symbolizes psychedelic-type rebellion; conversely, it’s a popular colorant for elasticized trousers of the elderly. The shade of Klingon blood, sometimes.

“Just the same, examined closely, they do blush with beauty.” (Photo by E. Medline)

I walk in mid-fall, and notice that the persevering flowers are predominantly shades of purple. Harebells, stiff asters, and clover line my path. Bees hover over these last beacons, desperately sucking on nectar dregs before the vapors turn to ice and winter begins. The flowers are alone or fading; they are outdone by the brightening leaves; they missed the party. Just the same, examined closely, they do blush with beauty.

“I never wanted to cause you any sorrow, I never wanted to cause you any pain,” sang Prince in 1984. “I only want to see you bathing in the purple rain.”

In 1989, at an anti-apartheid march in Cape Town, South Africa, police used purple-dyed water in the cannon to more easily identify and arrest the demonstrators. “The purple shall govern,” a graffiti-artist famously wrote.

“Purple is both natural and unreal.” (Photo by E. Medline)

I remember thinking at the age of six that I would like a completely purple house one day, and now wonder how I could have ever reasoned that. Is it because the antiquated part of my brain remembered the birth of our planet, when early microbes used retinal and not chlorophyll to harness energy from the sun? When life theoretically reflected a violet haze rather than the customary green.

Our earth, stained maroon. It is hypothesized to have happened that way.


Folks, check out Today’s Flowers.



  1. Very nice post. I liked the whimsy of the verse. Imagine a planet, not green, but purple! Had it stayed that way our alternative energy cry would have been “Go Purple”! How funny is that?

  2. I love purple, and yes imagine a world of purple

  3. i love your post, and your purple flowers. admittedly, i’m not so fond of purple, especially on food.:p but on flowers (and jewels:p), purple is gorgeous.

    and i love Prince’ Purple Rain.:p

  4. A purple house could be quite stunning, from the lightest tints of lilac to the deepest royal purple and the whole tonal range in between. Why ever did you give that idea up?

    Your autumnal purples are splendid.

  5. A lovely post to read, and your photos are super. Thanks for sharing.

  6. A fascinating post! Beautiful flowers! I was amazed about the South African story!

  7. I love the quirky facts in this post; a wonderful combination.

  8. I love purple and your post!

  9. I believe that purple may possibly be my favorite color. Except when it is green. . .

    There is a lot of purple at the close of the year, but I find it leavened with splotches of yellow and occasional splashes of red and orange. Just enough to accentuate the purple.

  10. Elaine, as (I hope) you know, I am a huge fan. Thank you for sharing your insights on nature and – intrinsically valued in its own right by me – your thoroughly engaging phrasing. (Completely aside: How do you do key word tags? Neat.)

    J. Phillip Nicholson

    • Phil, thanks for your kindness. To answer your question, when you create or edit a WordPress post, there are places to add categories and tags. It’s quite automatic, but you need be part of the WordPress format to make this happen. The website looks unique because I have added my own pix, header, sub-head and done a bit of upgrading, but the page has simply been created from a WordPress template. (You can choose among many different looks). Pretty neat, eh? Technology, accessible. Elaine

  11. […] Memorizing Nature post related to flowers can be found by clicking here. It’s called “Purple’, is one of the author’s favourites, and was posted in […]

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