In Elizabethan times in England, the language of flowers were utilised to encode highly personal messages to prospective loved ones.
By Victorian times, the language of flowers had become a well-established code. The Victorians made an art of expressing their desires with flowers. Victorian women, for example, carried small bouquets, called tussie-mussies, with hidden messages expressed by types of flowers. Strands of ivy signified fidelity and friendship, gardenias conveyed a secret love, and forsythia meant anticipation. And in Norfolk, a young man who wore the herb southernwood in his buttonhole was announcing to the world that he was ready and available to meet single women. If he took a fancy to a particular girl, he would sniff his southernwood and if the girl liked him in return, she would inhale the aroma of the herb too. Having declared their interest, the couple would then go for a stroll together.
The language of flowers plays a role in literature too. Even Shakespeare utilised flowers in his writings. In Hamlet, when poor Ophelia expressed her grief: “There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies, that's for thoughts.”
Now that you know flowers say a lot more than you think, here are some popular garden and bouquet meanings of the language of flowers:
Alstroemeria: Devotion and friendship
Alyssum: Worth beyond beauty
Anemone: Unfading love
Apple Blossom: Good Fortune
Baby’s Breath: Everlasting Love
Calla Lily: Magnificent Beauty
Camellia: Perfected Loveliness
Carnation: Pride and Beauty, Fascination
Carnation (striped): Refusal
Carnation (yellow): Disappointment
Cyclamen: It’s over, goodbye
Daffodil: Unrequited Love
Gardenia: Secret Love
Heather (pink): Good Luck
Jasmine: Cheerful & Graceful
Lavender: Silence and the Return of a Loved one
Lilac: First sign of love
Lily: Purity of Heart
Lily (white): Purity & sweetness
Lily (orange): Hatred
Lily of the Valley: Return of Happiness
Marigold: Cruelty or Jealousy
Mums (white): Truth
Mums (yellow): Slighted
Orange Blossom: Marriage and Fruitfulness
Pansies: An Invitation to Courtship
Peony: Shame or Happy marriage
Queen Anne’s Lace: Fantasy
Red Rose: Passion
Sweet Pea: Good bye
Tulips: A Declaration of Love
Yellow Daylilies: Coquetry
Zinnia (burgundy): Lasting Affection
Zinnia (mixed): Thoughts of absent friends
If you found inspiration on our Language of Flowers page, feel free to browse the rest of our Love pages too:
Hope you enjoy our Language of Flowers pages!
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