Floriography – the language of flowers – is an art that flourished in the Victorian Era under a mix of writers, poets, and publishers.  The language quickly gained favor in the 1800’s and became a favorite of royalty.  In addition to being a wonderful way to communicate one’s feelings for a lover without one’s royal court knowing their business.  It was also a discrete way for a lover to communicate their intentions without the awkwardness of words or the dread that comes with the possibility of rejection.  What could be better than that for the otherwise shy and uninitiated lover?

For instance,  a suitor could send a ‘secret lover’ a  bouquet of  gardenias   signaling their affections privately, letting the recipient know they have captured their heart, ever so secretly.

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It was Charlotte La Tour’s floral dictionary in 1858  that circulated to all corners of the world that vastly popularized floriography as hundreds of editions began popping up around not only France and England, but also Belgium, Germany, various other European countries, the United States, and South America. It was also around that time that The Victorian use of flowers as a means of covert communication bloomed alongside a growing interest in botanyFrom Flora’s Dictionary (1829) Floriography was popularized in France as early as 1810, while in Britain it caught on around 1820, and in the United States by about 1830. The first dictionary of floriography appeared

 

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 in 1819 when Louise Cortambert, writing under the pen name ‘Madame Charlotte de la Tour,’ wrote Le langage des Fleurs. British floral dictionaries soon followed, including Henry Phillips’ Floral Emblems published in 1825 and Frederic Shoberl’s The Language of Flowers; With Illustrative Poetry, in 1834. Robert Tyas’ The Sentiment of Flowers; or, Language of Flora, first published in 1836, was considered the English version of Charlotte de la Tour’s book. From Flora’s Dictionary (1829)

With the growing popularity in the field of floriography, bouquets became enlaced with wonderfully romantic meanings shared between the bride and groom. What if we took a cue from latter days and designed our bouquets with the same care for symbolism the lovers of the Victorian Age once did, rather than based upon a decided color theme?

 

GARDENIAGARDENIA:  Secret love.

For those whose love is fresh and new, what better a way than to recognize the fledgling love than by a bouquet of gardenias?  The secret cant be kept for ever but this is a great way to preserve the new and lovely time of new beginnings.

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabethan RoseELIZABETHAN ROSE:  perfect happiness

If you desire a marriage of “unobtrusive loveliness”, “perfect happiness”and “appreciation”, your wedding day will be adorned in white hyacinth, Elizabethan roses and towering sunflowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SunflowerSUNFLOWERS: Pride and Appreciation

Tall, beautiful, sunny and strong.  The sunflower symbolizes the statuesque and bold, what better a flower to be known by?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LILY OF THE VALLEY: A Return of Happiness

Whether Kim Kardashian (Or Mrs. West) knew it or not, her floral arrangement of hydrangea, hyacinth and orchids symbolized “thanks in understanding”, “sorrow” and “ecstasy” – I am going to guess not.  And, the wall of white roses, hydrangea, and peonies that Kanye sent to his lovely wife?  Well,  hopefully he clarified his sentiments with a card as these flowers have a multitude of meanings that relatively signify anything from “humility”, “thanks in understanding”  and “a happy marriage” to “secrecy”, “frigidity” and “shame”.  Maybe he should have gone more simplistic and gifted Kim with Night Scented Stock.

 

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NIGHT SCENTED STOCK:  Lasting Beauty

Simply perhaps the best way to recognize a lover.  What woman doesn’t hope to know that her beauty will last a life time, at least in the eyes of her forever lover?

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Hydrangea

WHITE HYDRANGEA: Heartlessness and Heartfelt Emotions

Meanings ranged based on the flower’s type and color, and even the way in which they are presented. Take the carnation, for example. While a red carnation symbolizes a love so deep the heart aches, a striped carnation means a refusal of that suitor. And, if a carnation is given upright, it retains its common meaning of devotion, while an inverted bouquet would symbolize its reverse: animosity.

 

 
Striped CarnationSTRIPED CARNATION: indecision or refusal

Even the hand by which one took or gave the flowers became plaited with meaning: the left signifying ‘no’ and the right signifying ‘yes’.   If it weren’t for ‘the language of flowers’ these two shy lovebirds in Sir Lawrence Ama-Tadema’s painting might not ever

Have had the chance to express their infatuation for each other.

 

 

DaisyThe DAISY: simple and sweet innocence

Perhaps the most happy and sweet of all flowers, the daisy holds a rightful meaning in ‘simple and sweet innocence’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Sir Lawrence Alma-TademaPainting by:   Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema 1836-1912

 


 

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Painting by: Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1836-1912

From well before the time of La Tour’s publishing of Le langage des Fleurs and well into the 21st century, flowers have always been gifted with deeper meanings, but now that meaning can go far beyond a simple gesture by reminding ourselves that each petal has a weighty significance.

So, whether you are going for something blue, something seasonally sourced or a crown to adorn your locks, remember there may be a secret meaning laced within its petals that only you and a select few may know.

 


 

Here is a short dictionary of additional selected flowers and their meanings:

 


 

Almond flowers — Hope

Anemone — Forsaken

Aster — Symbol of love

Balm — Sympathy

Basil — Best wishes

Bay leaf — “I change but in death”

Bell flower, white — Gratitude

Bergamot — Irresistible

Bluebell — Constancy

Borage — Courage

Broom — Humility

Campanula — Gratitude

Carnation, pink — I’ll never forget you

China rose — Beauty always new

Clover, four leaved — “Be mine”

Coreopsis — Love at first sight

Daffodil — Regard

Daisy — Innocence, new-born, “I share your sentiment”

Fennel — Flattery

Fern — Sincerity

Forget-Me-Not — True love

French Marigold — Jealousy

Gardenia — Ecstasy

Gentian — Loveliness

Geranium — “You are childish”

Hare bell — Grief

Honeysuckle — Bonds of love

Heather — Admiration

Hyacinth — I am sorry, Please forgive me

Ivy — Fidelity, friendship, marriage

Jasmine — Grace

Jonquil — “I hope for return of affection”

Lavender — Luck, devotion

Lemon Balm — Sympathy

Lilac — First love

Lily — Purity, modesty

Lily of the Valley — Purity, the return of happiness

Lily, Calla — Magnificent Beauty

Marigold — Health, grief or despair

Marjoram — Kindness, courtesy

Myrtle — Fidelity

Oregano — Joy

Orchid — Love, beauty, refinement

Pansy — Loving thoughts

Peony — Good health, happiness

Periwinkle — Happy memory

Phlox — Agreement

Poppy, red — Consolation

Primrose — I can’t live without you

Rose, cabbage — Ambassador of love

Rose, red — Love

Rose, pink — Grace, beauty

Rose, yellow — Friendship

Rosemary — Remembrance, constancy

Sage — Gratitude, domestic virtue

Snowdrop — Hope

Star of Bethlehem — Purity

Sweet Pea — Departure, tender memory

Sweet William — Gallantry

Tuberose — Voluptuousness

Tulip, red — My perfect lover, Reclamation of love

Violet — Loyalty, modesty, humility

Violet, blue — Faithfulness

Wormwood — Grief

Wheat — Riches of the continuation of life

Willow, weeping — Mourning

Wallflower — Fidelity

Yew — Sorrow

The Rose

The Rose is the flower whose meaning we most understand, but here are some details of the meaning of the Rose that may be of further interest.

Rose, Black – You are my obsession

Rose, Champagne – You are tender and loving

Rose, Leonidas – Sweet love

Rose, Nicole – You are graceful and elegant, aristocratic

Rose, Orange – You are my secret love

Rose, Pink – Brilliant complexion; the glow of your smile; perfect happiness

Rose, Red – Passionate love; I love you

Rose, Single Stems – Simplicity

Rose, White – I am worthy of you; spiritual love; Innocence and Purity; Secrecy and Silence

Rose, White and Red – We are inseparable

Rose, White and Red Mixed – Unity; Flower emblem of England

Rose, White, Dried – Death is preferable to loss of virtue

Rose, Yellow – Friendship; Jealousy; I am not worthy

Rose, Bridal – Happy Love

Rose, Dark Crimson – Mourning

Rose, Hibiscus – Delicate beauty

Rose– I’ll remember always

Rose, Thornless – Love at first sight

Roses, Bouquet of Mature Blooms – Gratitude

Multiple Roses

Single bloom red Rose – Love at first sight or I still love you

Single Rose, any color – Gratitude or simplicity

2 Roses – Mutual feelings

3 Roses – I love you

7 Roses – I’m infatuated with you

9 Roses – We’ll be together forever

10 Roses – You are perfect

11 Roses – You are my treasured one

12 Roses – Be mine

13 Roses – Friends forever

15 Roses – I’m truly sorry

20 Roses – I’m truly sincere towards you

21 Roses – I’m dedicated to you

24 Roses – Forever yours

25 Roses – Congratulations

50 Roses – Unconditional love

99 Roses – I will love you all the days of my life

108 Roses – Will you marry me?

999 Roses – I love you till the end of time

 

 

 

 

 

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