I love flowers; in fact I am passionate about them - their transient presence, their delicate beauty and their intricate design. I see flowers as 'art' too, and given the right attention and the right environment, they 'speak' for themselves, but over the years they have also provided us with a way to communicate.
Throughout history, flowers and herbs have become an integral part of our lives and many different cultures across the world use flowers in many forms for numerous reasons. We have discovered some possess healing qualities, some create fragrances, whilst others just give pleasure because of their natural beauty and we use flowers to both celebrate and commiserate. But during Victorian times flowers were used to convey secret/discrete messages between two people, particularly secret admirers and lovers.
You see, although the Victorian’s were enlightened and indeed invented several methods of communication, such as the telephone, the radio and the camera, they frowned upon expressing one’s emotions and feelings and so the elaborate ‘language of flowers’ was born with many Victorians studying the art of ‘floriography’.
Lovers would exchange small bouquets of flowers, often called ‘nosegays’ or ‘tussie mussies’ containing an assortment of flowers each with a different meaning depending on how they were arranged, their variety and their colour etc. Considerable time and great care had to be taken when sending the flowers and interpreting the meaning of them to ensure that the correct message had been conveyed and understood. If two different floriography books were being used it could cause all sorts of problems! But it is generally agreed upon that the red rose symbolised love and passion.
Anyway, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it seems pertinent to share the meaning of the Rose – the national flower of England (and my home county of Hampshire) and the traditional symbol of affection. Derived from the Latin word ‘rosa’ and dating back to Ancient Greek and Roman times, this delicate flower was linked to the goddesses of love and became popular in Victorian Britain when used as subtle gestures of love and romance (as per the language of flowers). Despite many flowers having several different meanings, it is generally agreed upon that the red rose symbolised love and passion. Take a look below to see the different meanings and discover you don’t have to send red roses on Valentine’s Day …
Red – the traditional symbol for love and romance. Perfect for saying ‘I love you’. Also denotes love and perfection.
Pink – symbol of grace and elegance. Given as a gesture of admiration, also to show appreciation and joyfulness.
Orange/Peach – expresses energy, desire and enthusiasm, passion and excitement.
Yellow – often known as the sign of true friendship and joy, as well as a sign of genuine warmth and happiness.
White – a symbol of purity and new beginnings normally associated with marriage. They can also be used as a gesture of remembrance and honor.
For more information about the history of Valentine’s Day, why not check out my article written especially for Truly Madly Kids - it's going to be published on Wednesday 12th February. Head on over to TMK's blog and take a peek - you’ll find it here, or read more about the meanings of other flowers here.
Love & blue skies
Words: Louise Bowditch, Bouquets and Blooms
Photos: Bouquets and Blooms