Cypress trees are the tortoises of the plant world; they grow very slowly and some can live 600 years. They seem to get-by despite harsh conditions with meager sustenance. Cypresses comprise a broad family of Conifers—that is, "cone-bearing" evergreens. Their leaves have a rubbery, scaly, needle-like appearance, with a "braided" effect, which makes them suitable for arid climates. Leaves like this tend to conserve water, unlike broad, flat leaves which encourage faster rates of evaporation. And the plants emit a clean, piney fragrance. Cypresses run the gamut from ground-covers to shrubs to tall trees. Mediterranean cypresses are tall, narrow and pointy, often lining a roadway or property line. Monterey cypresses appear windswept, stunted and hunched--found clinging to harsh and rocky cliffs along the California coast. And junipers, a variety of cypress, have been harvested of their berries for medicinal uses, including to flavor gin (which was once classified as a medicament). Steeped in water, cypress leaves, twigs and bark are thought to have anti-fungal, anti-swelling properties and are used in salves, foot baths and acne washes. In aromatherapy, cypress distillates are believed by some to alleviate respiratory issues.
Cypresses are named after Cyparissus, a boy from Greek mythology. Cyparissus was beloved of the god Apollo. The god gave Cyparissus a tamed deer, whom the youth loved. One day, while hunting, Cyparissus accidentally shot and killed his beloved companion—and became so greatly distressed that the boy turned into a cypress tree. For this reason, since Greek and Roman times, cypress trees have been associated with mourning. They are frequently planted in Christian and Muslim cemeteries. Cypresses in cemeteries provided symbolic meaning (mourning, tips pointing to Heaven) and they provided a warning that one was entering the presence of dead bodies. Jesus's cross is thought to have been hewn of cypress.
A cypress tree thrusts skyward from within an array of rocks on this embroidered linen panel, crafted in the Sixties. Simply matted and framed, it would provide a touch of manicured folkcraft—and a little glimpse of nature (or the hereafter)—in your home or office. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
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