Summer Garden Flowers
Issue Date: April 28, 1994
City: Cincinnati, OH
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Perforations: 11.9 vertically
One of the world’s most beautiful flowers, the lily is also one of the oldest plants known to man. It is mentioned in history for the first time on a tablet inscribed nearly 5,000 years ago in Sumer. The tablet tells of a Persian city surrounded by fields of lilies. That ancient city was called Susa, which means lily.
From Persia the lily spread to Crete, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It is believed caravans of nomads took the edible bulbs along as food for their long journeys. Occasionally a bulb would drop and take root. Eventually the lily even made it to northern Europe and England, most likely in the baggage of homesick Roman soldiers.
But wherever it went, the lily was usually regarded as a sacred flower. The Minoans, Greeks, and Romans associated it with their goddesses. In fact, Greek mythology claimed the flower had sprung from the milk of Hera, Zeus’ wife. Closely intertwined with Christian history, the white lily was used for centuries to symbolize the purity of the Virgin Mary and her role as Queen of the Angels.
Today there are more than 12,000 species offering a multitude of colors, shapes, and sizes. Popular varieties include the tiger lily, Easter lily, and Japanese lily.