"Roses. Not virgins like dogwood, milkweed."
from The Poet's Calendar
Public Domainfrom The Poet's Calendar
The Soul of the Rose
Public DomainThe Soul of the Rose - Credit: John William Waterhouse

In flower lore, roses represent June. Like the month itself, they are associated with love, marriage and, as Quentin suggests, carnality. This last draws on a long tradition that has likened the rose to the female genitals, from Guillaume de Loris and Jean de Meun’s Roman de la Rose (13th cent.) to the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe.

 

Dogwood, meanwhile, is associated with the divine: Christian tradition holds that its wood was used to make the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Christ was, of course, the fruit of an immaculate conception, hence Quentin’s association of the flower with virginity. It comes in various colours, and its white form is often planted in churchyards to symbolize purity. Milkweed — whose name derives from the sticky white sap its petals emit when broken — denotes innocence.

 

Milkweed
Creative Commons AttributionMilkweed - Credit: rsteup
Dogwood blossoms
Public DomainDogwood blossoms - Credit: GaylaLin