The Language of Flowers
February 11, 2013
The month of February makes one think of sending flowers to those we love. Flowers come in varied shapes, colors, and fragrances and cause us to wonder at their beauty. We like and choose flowers because of their beauty, but at one time people sent specific flowers for certain meanings. For example, baby’s breath meant everlasting love, while yellow roses meant fading love, and of course, red roses meant love.
Floriography, a means of communicating by flowers, was a coded message sent through small bouquets called tussie-mussies, our modern nosegay. This language of flowers started in Turkey. In 1718, Lady Mary Wortley Montague introduced this language to England. One hundred years later, a book called the Language des Fleur by Charlotte de la Tour was published in Paris. In England and America between the 1830s and 1880s, hundreds of similar books were published. Today this language of flowers is all but forgotten.
There are many books that give the name of the flowers and their meanings, such as The Language of Flowers by Kate Greenaway, The Language of Flowers by Helen Williams, The Secret Language of Flowers by Shane Connolly, and The Angels’ Alphabet by Susan Loy.
There is also a novel, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, that not only tells a story but also weaves in flowers and their meanings throughout the book. The book is about a girl named Victoria coming out of foster care. Victoria has a talent of making and giving bouquets with special meanings. These flower bouquets mean a lot to the people she gives them to. Eventually, Victoria learns to trust and finds her place in life through the flowers she loves.
Flowers have a voice and are saying things, and maybe it is time to stop and consider what they are telling everyone.