Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature." Gerard De Nerval
The enchanting island of Galveston, Texas is once again blooming with the mysterious Nerium Oleanders. Vibrant shades of yellow, red, white, pink and salmon consume these flowering evergreen shrubs that cover the island. In fact, Galveston is known to have the most extensive collection of oleanders in the world.
One of the things that fascinates me the most about the Oleander is the contradiction between its enticing beauty - and the fact that the plant is in fact poisonous. It contains a toxin that can be poisonous if ingested in large quantities. Fumes from burning the branches of the oleander can also be hazardous.
According to Greek mythology, oleanders represent romance and charm. There once was a beautiful Greek maiden who was loved by a man named Leander. He swam across the sea every night to see his beloved. One night, however, he braved a tempest to see her and drowned as the wild waves slammed his body against the sharp rocky cliffs.
The next day, his distraught lover found his body on the shore. "Oh Leander," she cried out, her voice echoing across the sea. In his hand, he clutched a flower, one he had intended to give to her. She gently pried the flower from his cold hand and saved it as a symbol of their everlasting love. That flower magically grew and spread throughout the world - evolving into today's beautiful oleanders.
A charming tale indeed - one that I plan to use in my next historical fantasy novel which will be set in Galveston. My mind is already spinning with ways I may integrate the lovely but deadly oleander into this novel. Lovely...but...deadly. Surely there is a story there?
Please stay tuned and stay in touch.