The primrose path is part of a quotation from Hamlet:

Do not as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
and recks not his own rede.

(The final line translates into modern English as “and does not follow his own advice”.)

Shakespeare used the same symbolism in Macbeth:

The primrose way to the everlasting bonfire.

primroses

Primroses

Gild the lily means overdo decoration for example.  A lily is a beautiful flower and does not need to be gold-plated.

Nip it in the bud is a favourite expression of mine in the context of practising music.  Any mistakes need to be spotted early in to prevent bad habits forming.  I wonder whether the expression derives from the method of producing larger blooms on such flowers as dahlias by removing the side-shoots.  The earlier the better – nip it in the bud!

Sticky buds are the shoots of horse chestnut trees.  The leaf cases are covered in a sticky substance.

Snapdragons is the common name for antirrhinums.  As a child I was shown how to open these flowers by squeezing the sides.  There was no fire, but perhaps an open mouth.

Plantain is a word used to describe several different kinds of plant.  The one I am writing about is a common plant on wasteland.  The flower is brown with white stamens.  When there was no law against picking wild flowers, we used to pick these, bend the stem behind the head and use it to shoot the head off.

Reeds grow in marshy places.  They are a warning to walkers to watch where they tread!  Again as a child, walking in the Pennines I used to peel the green outer part off reeds to reveal the pith inside.  We used to have competitions to see who could produce the longest unbroken length of pith.

Like a sack of potatoes described an unbecoming fashion of a shift dress with a belt in the middle.  The Brownie uniform of the early 1960’s often made girls look like a sack of potatoes.

Lead someone down the garden path is an expression about encouraging someone’s attentions in a misleading way.

Rooting out means getting rid of something (evil, perhaps?)  Weeds will grow again if the entire root is not removed.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may is a quotation from Robert Herrick’s ‘To Virgins, to Make Much of time.

While I was preparing this post, a link to an earlier related post on another blog came up in my Twitter feed.

The Penguin Dictionary of Quotations was of assistance here.

The best known verse in the Bible referring to flowers is Consider the lilies of the field…  Matthew 6:28

Another flower in the Bible is the rose of Sharon.  Song of Songs 2:1

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