Did you know that the ivy leaf is the ideal motif for romantic gifts, Valentine's Day, Weddings or Anniversaries - but why?

January 11, 2018


Ivy is every where, but there are a few special things about Ivy of which you may not be aware.  English Ivy is an attractive plant which is a member of the ginseng family.  It is commonly admired for its beautiful appearance when it clambers and climbs over fences and walls, or creeps up trees. However, throughout time, the ivy plant has had important symbolic meanings and has been part of a rich mythology.


In the Middle Ages, holly represented the masculine element, perhaps because of its prickles and harder leaves, while ivy represented the female element. Both plants are appreciated still today as winter greenery during the bleak months when many other plants are bare of leaves, especially as both holly and ivy have attractive berries.


English ivy travels along the ground and climbs up vertical supports such as tree trunks, fence posts and walls. If its growth is unchecked, it can travel from one plant to another, binding plants together.  This is one of the features which gives ivy its symbolic meaning.


There are many things I could tell you about ivy, but for today's blog, I want to focus of this one.....


Did you know how the binding ability of Ivy is linked to Romantic Symbolism? 


Have you ever  thought of ivy leaf detail for a valentine’s or wedding gift? 


Some versions of the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde, or Iseult, refer to ivy's ability to bind. Tristan was a Cornish knight and Isolde was an Irish princess. Tristan went to Ireland to claim Isolde as a bride for King Mark. During the journey back to Cornwall, Tristan and Isolde fell in love after drinking a love potion.


Beyond this basic plot there are many variations in the story. In some versions, Tristan and Isolde die and are buried in separate graves by King Mark so that even in death they cannot be together. However, an ivy vine (or another vine or a tree) grows out of each grave towards the other one. The ivy vines meet and twine around each other, forming a connection. Even when the king cuts the vines they regrow and reconnect.


Ivy represented peace to the Druids of old, perhaps because of its ability to bind different plants or even different kinds of plants together. Today ivy is often used at weddings, where it symbolises fidelity.


Here at Free as a Bird Jewellery Designs we have a collection called 'A Walk in the Forest'.  This collection features silver jewellery cast from genuine leaves and acorns collected in the Forest of Dean.  At this time of year, whilst other leaves are missing for the winter, there remains an abundance of romantic ivy.  Why not treat yourself or a loved one to a Valentine's Day, Birthday, Wedding or Anniversary gift to show the enduring nature of your love? 




love Jane xxx








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