floral arrangments

Say It With Flowers!

Throughout the millennia, blooms have been used to convey feelings when words simply would not suffice. Prior to the Victorian Era, people had already been using floriography, or “the language of flowers” in Persia and the Middle East. For whatever reason, by the time the Victorian Era came around, nobles held the expression of strong emotions in disdain, preferring to present a front of dignity and grace. The publication of flower dictionaries explaining the meaning of each flower began to spread throughout England, and strong emotion was able to be shared in a more discreet manner. 

Floriography: The term used to represent the language of flowers. It was coined during the Victorian era (1837-1901) to define the symbolic meanings attributed to various flowers. Floriography or the language of flowers is the art of flower symbolism. It is a cryptic way of communication through flowers.
Source: atozflowers.com

hands holding small sunflower bouquet

It was important that those sending a bouquet of flowers (or was it a bouquet of feelings?) had the same flower dictionary as their recipient! Otherwise, their intended meaning was at risk of being lost. Not only was the blossom of choice taken into consideration, its color, state and size had a message as well. If a bouquet was delivered in a poor, wilted state, its message was presumably one of apathy. A purple violet meant faithfulness, but a white violet said “Let’s take a chance.” A hyacinth that was pink or red brought a sense of playfulness, while the purple version spoke of sorrow. Dwarf sunflowers represented adoration for the recipient, but a tall sunflower brought an air of haughtiness. 

purple hyacinth

The classic red rose symbolized romantic love and devotion in the same way that it does today. If the rose’s thorns were removed, it meant love at first sight. If the recipient felt the same way, they could reply with a red rose – or they could opt for a yellow carnation, meaning “I have no interest in romance with you.” An old-fashioned friend-zoning! A yellow rose could carry feelings of jealousy, or dwindling love. White roses meant innocence and secrecy, and pink roses meant joy and grace. Red tulips stood for passion while yellow tulips meant “there’s sunshine in your smile.” Peonies brought a blush of bashfulness and tuberose spoke of dangerous pleasures. Dahlias could be shared between married couples to represent a lasting bond, or commitment. Similarly, orchids were used in long-term relationships to symbolize love and unity.

bouquet of red roses

Flowers were sent for reasons other than romance! Friends could send each other cattails for a wish of prosperity and peace, and edelweiss stood for courage and adventure. The bells of Ireland brought good luck, while periwinkle pointed to early friendships and sweet, shared memories. 

Photo credit: unsplash.com; The Cameraslinger

When someone would open the door and see flowers waiting for them, their body language spoke volumes. If they picked up the flowers and held them close to their heart, it pleased the one who sent it. However, if the person held the flowers upside down by their hip, that definitely did not bring a warm feeling to the sender’s heart. This must mean that when people delivered flowers to someone, they’d hang around waiting to gauge what their beau felt. It was quite a “high stakes; high rewards” situation. Try speaking this language with someone you care about! Just hope that when they Google what a flower means, that it will be the same website you were referencing too! 

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