Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Language of Flowers

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I began thinking about floriography, the language of flowers. I thought you might like to know what your special person is actually saying with that huge flower arrangement he brings in or has delivered. I am quite sure he has no idea, consciously or subconsciously, about the meanings of those flowers. The lady at the florist just stuck them in a vase. Ah for the times when a man actually put some thought into it. Like Leopold did in “Kate and Leopold.” Sigh…

Although the meanings of flowers have been around for centuries, the Victorians took it to new heights. They sent secret messages to each other through the use of flowers. Tussie-Mussies (Nosegays as we call them today) were especially popular. The men actually put thought into having the flowers arranged to convey a very important message to their beloved. Imagine the woman receiving a bouquet and pulling out her little treatise on meanings to discover what the man was telling her. Romance was done a lot better in those days.

Any way, red roses seem to be the standard for modern men. Red roses imply passionate romantic love. I have always loved yellow roses, don’t know why, I just do. Darn it, they stand for friendship and devotion. An orange lily denotes passion while a yellow chrysanthemum means slighted love. Daisies stand for innocence. These are flowers I usually see in arrangements.

The old standbys, carnations, have many different meanings. A red carnation is like a red rose, it signifies deep romantic love. White stands for pure love and yellow means rejection or disdain. Geez, considering the arrangements you see today, a Victorian lady would alternate between manic highs and extreme lows trying to figure them out.

Lilacs mean first love. And my favorite, gardenia means a secret love. Sunflowers mean haughtiness or respect. I could go on and on about the meanings of each flower but the list is too long. The conclusion I have come to is, that in this day and age, just sending flowers means you love someone or you care, regardless of the meanings behind the genus of the bloom. I love flowers and getting them is always a treat.

There is one I quite forgot to mention and they did it in Victorian days - wilted or dead flowers. We think this is a new phenomena but it isn’t. Back in the nineteenth century men would send them to the women who rejected them, conveying that truly the relationship was over. So we didn’t come up with that idea, it’s been around a while. There are a few people I would like to send some too but…

What are your favorite flowers to receive? What do you like to do for Valentine’s Day? Is it an important day to you or do you pass it by without a thought?


  1. i like daisies and tulips, though I am not especially high of getting flowers because my cats eat them.

    We don't make a big deal of VD, though we do exchange a card and small gift. We never go out to eat. I cannot stand to get caught up with all those people overdressed for Red Lobster. Some times we go out to eat a day or two before or after, but that's something we would do anyway. Last year, we watched the Olympics.

  2. I just admit right now that I'm trying my darndest to forget about Valentine's Day this year. I got a card for my granddaughter and put a little money in it so she can go to the dollar store and buy something.

    The divorce group I facilitate meets that night and I have an idea it's going to be a pretty tearful meeting since for many it will be the first Valentine's Day since their divorce or the death of their spouse. We'll have plenty of tissues on hand.

    I'm a tulip fan too. I also like mixed bouquets. Stargazer lilies are nice too. Heck, I like any kind of flowers!


  3. Kathy, this was such and interesting post!

    I like poinsettas. Maybe that is because you only see them in the winter usually around my birthday. :-)

    I don't make a big deal of Valentine's Day, in fact, if I could outlaw it at school I would. I causes my students to be very distracted!

    Marilyn-I am sure you will be in for a tough night. I will keeep your group and you as you lead them in my thoughts.

  4. Stephanie--This is Cheryl's post. Or maybe you just wanted Kathy to know that.

  5. I don't care - I'll answer to just about anything. I didn't think the horse would be romantic for Valentine's so no one knew it was me. LOL

    Jean, tulips have two meanings: red are a declaration of love and yellow is hopeless love. I hope you get lots of red tulips. I know what you mean about not going all out for the day. We usually grill some steaks and sit at home sipping on wine. Don't want to fight the crowds.

    Hope your Valentine's Day is not tearful PM! You should celebrate and be glad you have so many, many friends who care about you! We all wish you a very Happy Valentine's Day here under the magnolia tree.

    Now Stephanie, Valentine's Day was always fun at school. You get to find out who your boyfriend/girlfriend is by their card! I got a small box of Russell Stover candy in the third grade from my boyfriend! You know, I still have that little heart-shaped box. It's currently holding my rock collection from the fourth grade.

  6. Ah! I love it when I get credited for something I didn't do. LOL!

    Kudos, Cheryl, for creating such a timely and interesting post. I've always been drawn to the meaning of flowers and wrote an article about flower meanings for the newsletter a few years ago. ;)

    Another interesting thing about Valentine's Day in the Victorian times. Young ladies used to put something under their pillows while they slept. This was supposed to help them dream of their true love. Can't remember what that was, but I'll look it up. I wrote about it once.

    Jean, we usually do Russell Stover candy. Woot!

    Marilyn, concentrate on all the wonderful Valentine friends you have in your life. Maybe that will help you get through VD. :)

    ;) Stephanie, I agree. There are lots of red flowers around at your birthday. If you want some great VD inspiration, go see The Mechanic. Jason Statham is wonderful eye candy!

    Jean, too cute!

    Cheryl, way to bring out the floral spirit in all of us. We all tend to take flowers for granted. I know I always get choked up when my hubby brings some home for me. Know why? Because he never does! LOL!

  7. I love tulips and daffodils. They make me feel happy. And I love gerber daisies. Same reason.

    Thanks for an interesting post. This year I'll be in Canada with my BFF of many years and we'll be celebrating a Valentine Friendship. Darling Hubby and teen will fend for themselves.


  8. Kathy, I knew you would know about all this floriography - you are our resident expert on history! I too love Russell Stover and more so now that they give you a little chart so you can avoid the nasty ones (pink filling -yek!)

    Christine, I am so jealous about you going to Canada! I hope you have a wonderful time! I already told Jean about the tulips but daffodils means uncertainty, chivalry, respect or unrequited love. Wonder how you tell which the sender meant? Guess you got to put your own spin on it.