The Language
of Flowers

There is a language, little known,
Lovers claim it as their own.
Its' symbols smile upon the land
Wrought by Nature's wondrous hand.
And their silent beauty speaks
Of love and joy for those that seek
For love divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers.

L.S.H.
1875

The Language of flowers is the most cherished romantic tradition in cultural history. Though most popular in the Victorian period, the symbolic use of flowers dates far back into antiquity.

The language of flowers was a Victorian-era way of discretely communicating between individuals in which  flowers, singly or in combination, were used to send secret messages, allowing their sender to express feelings which otherwise may not have been easily spoken.

Flower dictionaries were written to explain this language, and were especially used by lovers, artists and poets.

The Victorians turned flower giving into an art. 

The history of flower symbolism dates back into early Chinese dynasties and in medieval and Renaissance culture, flowers were often given moral meanings. This is most apparent in art in which saints are often depicted with flowers that are symbolic of their virtues.

Sources of flower associations that  made their way into Victorian language of flowers books included ancient symbolic associations from Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Greek, and Roman cultures, mythologies, and religions; books such as herbals that recorded the virtues of plants as well as their myth and lore; and literature, most notably Shakespeare.

During its peak in America, the language of flowers attracted the attention of the most popular women writers, poets and editors of the day.

The following is a list of flower language as we recognize it today. 

  • Alstromeria Lily - Devotion 

  • Amaryllis - Splendid beauty 

  • Anemone - Anticipation 

  • Apple Blossom - Good fortune 

  • Baby's Breath - Pure of heart 

  • Bachelor's Button - Hope 

  • Bluebell - Constancy 

  • Buttercup - Riches 

  • Camellia - Good fortune or loveliness 

  • Carnation - Lasting fidelity & deep love 

  • Crocus - Joy 

  • Daisy - Faith, cheer & simplicity 

  • Fern - Sincerity 

  • Forget-me-not - True love 

  • Freesia - Innocence 

  • Fuchsia - Good taste 

  • Gardenia - Joy 

  • Gladiola - Generosity 

  • Holly - Foresight 

  • Honeysuckle - Generosity and devotion 

  • Iris - Faith, wisdom & health 

  • Jasmine - Grace & elegance 

  • Jonquil - Affection returned 

  • Larkspur - Levity 

  • Lily - Virtue, beauty, elegance & pride 

  • Lily of the Valley - Happiness 

  • Marigold - Sacred affection 

  • Mimosa - Sensitivity 

  • Myrtle - Remembrance 

  • Olive & Laurel Leaves - Plenty & virtue 

  • Orange Blossoms - Fertility & marriage 

  • Orchid - You are beauty 

  • Peony - Bashfulness 

  • Purple Lilac - First love 

  • Red Rose - I love you 

  • Red & White Roses (together) - Unity 

  • Rosemary - Commitment & fidelity 

  • Sage - Domestic Virtue 

  • Stephanotis (often called The Wedding Flower) - Happiness in marriage 

  • Sweet Pea - Blissful pleasure 

  • Sweet William - Gallantry 

  • Tulip - Perfect lover 

  • Violet - Faithfulness 

  • Water Lily - Purity of heart 

  • White Carnation - Remember me 

  • White Daisy - Innocence 

  • White Lilac - Innocence 

  • White Lily - Purity & young innocence 

  • White Rose - I am worthy of you 

  • Wood Sorrel - Maternal tenderness 

  • Yellow Tulip - Hopeless love 

  • Zinnia - Remembrance & affection

 

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Monday, November 02, 2009