|Mother's Day 2013|
But, though flowers "send messages," did you know that they have their own language? I always sort of knew this, but explored it a bit more fully after coming across a sweet little book titled, I'll Ask My Grandmother, She's Very Wise, by Kristen Johnson Ingram. "Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had a symbolic vocabulary for expressing their love," Ingram writes. "A vocabulary of flowers that we have lost today. Flowers, a beautiful part of creation, expressed love; they were tributes of affection, honor, valor, and fame."
So if there's a flower vocabulary, what language are they speaking? Why, floriography! And it turns out that 'floriography' once played an interesting part in the communication among people.
Wikipedia: "The language of flowers, sometimes called 'floriography,' was a Victorian-era means of communication in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages, allowing individuals to express feelings which otherwise could not be spoken. This language was most commonly communicated through tussie-mussies, small flower bouquets."
Wendy Taylor at Proflowers: "The Victorian era ushered in a time of proper etiquette among the upper class in England during Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901). Among the many rules and customs, there were expected behaviors that prohibited outright flirtations, questions, or conversations between others. Even though the use of flowers to convey messages had been used in Persia and the Middle East, it was during the Victorian Era that the tradition spread in England with the publication of flower dictionaries explaining the meaning of plants, flowers, and herbs. It soon became popular to use flowers to send secretive messages."
A code? Secret messages? Delivered in tussie-mussies? Oooh, sounds like the stuff of novelists, don't you think?
Whoops, turns out authors have already beat us to it. "William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and many others, all used the language of flowers in their writings." (Santa Monica Flowers)
Anyway, in case you might be interested in dipping into the vocabulary, too, here's a sample of meanings, though in no way exhaustive. And bear in mind that meanings vary depending on what list you consult.
Carnation--admiration (red), faithfulness (white), a mother's love (pink)
Hyacinth--'I am sorry, please forgive me'
Lilac--memories; first love
Marigold--pain and grief, sorrow
Petunia--'your presence soothes me'
Rose--love (red), passion (coral), happiness and excitement (red and yellow together)
Tulip--declaration of love
Violet--faithfulness (blue), modesty (white)
Happy Mother's Day! If you were to put together a tussie-mussie to send a message to someone, what flowers would go in your bouquet?