That’s Amore: The Language of Flowers

Flowers have long been held as dear to the heart for many since the beginning of time and thus one may receive them for many occasions throughout our lives. They are like a marker at most of the turning points in one's life: At our birth, on celebrating one's naming day (birthday in later years), graduation, love interest, marriage, anniversaries, a new mother and yes even in death does one receive flowers. Throughout many cultures flowers hold the hopes and dreams of many.
Lady with a Nosegay / by: Bacchiacca, Francesco / Date: 1525
I am not well versed in the worlds use of flowers, but I can say that for the Victorian's the 'unspoken' language of flowers was close in daily life and never far from the mind of a lady or gentleman. This language was also called floriography and was most often used to send coded messages, for good or ill, allowing individuals to express their feelings which perhaps otherwise could not be spoken. These fragrant bundles are not exclusive to the Victorian era (1900's), but were more perfected during this time than ever before.
Nosegay / by: Charles Demuth / Date: c. 1925
These small floral bundles can be called Tussie-Mussies, Nosegays or Posy's. By arranging flowers into different arrangements, an array of sentiments could be conveyed: love, friendship, devotion, or a wide array of other sentiments which could only be interpreted by those who understood the flowers silent language. If there were any inverted flowers present in a bouquet that particular flower would be interpreted as having the opposite of the usual meaning. Encyclopedia Britannica explains it best:
"Small, hand-held bouquet popular in mid- 19th-century Victorian England as an accessory carried by fashionable ladies. Composed of mixed flowers and herbs and edged with a paper frill or greens, the arrangement was sometimes inserted into a silver filigree holder. When supplied by an admirer, a nosegay became a vehicle for the floral "language of love"-e.g., a red tulip was a declaration of love; a sprig of dogwood returned by the young lady was a sign of indifference; a variegated pink meant that she rejected her suitor's affection."
Anyone can merely present flowers, but to customize the bouquet to the recipient or occasion? That can be truly impressive and touching on many levels for both the giver and receiver.
Presenting Your Posy This lady's accessory would most often be made of silver or other metal, resembling a small vase. During the Victorian era they were romanticized as a fashion accessory for ladies to hold the flowers brought by courting gentleman callers. In order to show her acceptance of him, she would skewer the flowers into a posy holder with a long pin and would then wear the holder to a ball. She would do this by then attaching the vase to her hand by way of a delicate chain connected to a ring, which would swing free while they danced. Here are a couple of examples of vases which you may see or own as a genteel lady of 'high society'.
French silver and gilt wire work posy, circa 19th century
This is a silver parcel gilt posy holder; the cup is formed from silver wire-work and is applied with clusters of three silver balls. The looped cup is overlaid with gilt garlands of florals and leaves while the center is faceted gilt with all over engraved floral motifs with an engraved gilt ribbon band below it. The mother of pearl handle is beautifully shaped and turned in form with a shaped terminal. It measures 5" long and the cup has a diameter of 1 1/4". Circa late 19th century. (Photo Source)
Brass posy holder with clip, c. late 19th century
This is a sweet brass posy holder which has an applied clip on the back of the cup. The cup is pierced and decorated with scroll work, flowers, and acorns; the handle is brass. It measures 4" long and has a diameter of 1 1/2." Circa late 19th century. ( Photo Source)
Create Your Own So your ready to create your first posey, but what to make it with? The traditional use of fresh flowers is always more aromatic but you may also use dried flowers for a longer lasting effect. If you sprinkle a few drops of your favorite essential oil onto the dried flowers if desired, the scent will last for quiet some time. A variety of silk and satin ribbons and paper doilies can be found at craft and hobby stores to wrap the stems of your bundle. You could even use silk flowers to create a floral greeting that will last indefinitely.
Breaking The Silent Code The language of flowers is extensive and doesn't apply to only these bundles, they can also extend to a flower given singly. When a flower is given the pronoun "I" is understood by bending it towards the right hand; "thou" when inclining it towards the left hand. "Yes" can be said by pressing the flowers to one's lips. "No" by pinching off a single petal and casting it away. The language of flowers is truly exhausting and at times to complicate matters it can very region by region. I have included here a lengthy (but not all inclusive!) list of flowers and their meanings if you would like to use your own 'unspoken' language. This practice is still alive today and thus there are several lovely books on the market if you would like to further research this topic.
(Photo Source)
Acacia – Secret love Agapanthus – Love letters, love. Alium – Strength Aloe – Grief Allspice – Compassion Alstromeria – Wealth, prosperity, fortune Alyssum (sweet) – Worth beyond beauty Ambrosia – Love returned Amaryllis – Pride; Timidity Anemone – Unfading love, forsaken Angelica – Inspiration Aniseed – Restoration of youth Anthurium – Lover Apple – Preference Apple Blossom – Good Fortune Arbutis – Thee only do I love Artemesia – Symbol of Dignity Asparagus Fern – Fascination Aster – Love; daintiness Azalea – Take care of yourself for me, fragile passion Bachelor Button – Celibacy Baby’s Breath – Everlasting Love, happiness Balsam – Ardent love Basil – Best Wishes, Love Bay Leaf – Strength Begonia – Beware Bells Of Ireland – Good luck Bird Of Paradise – Magnificence Bittersweet – Truth Bluebell – Humility; constancy Borage – Courage Bouquet of withered flowers – Rejected love Bouvardia: Enthusiasm Broom – Humility Burnet – A merry heart Buttercup – Cheerfulness Cactus – Endurance, warmth Calendula – Joy Calla Lilly – Magnificent beauty Camellia – Admiration, perfection, good luck gift to a man Camellia Pink – Longing for you. Camellia Red – You’re a flame in my heart. Camellia White – You’re adorable. Candytuft – indifference Carnation (in general) Bonds of affection, health and energy, fascination, woman love Carnation (pink) – I’ll never forget you, A Mother’s Love Carnation (purple) – Capriciousness, whimsical, changeable Carnation (red) – My heart aches for you, admiration Carnation (solid color) -Yes Carnation (striped)- No, refusal, sorry I can’t be with you, wish I could be with you Carnation (white) – Sweet and lovely, innocence; pure love, woman’s good luck gift Carnation (yellow) – Rejection, disdain, you disappoint me Cattail – Peace, prosperity Chamomile – Patience, attracts wealth Chrysanthemum (in general) – Cheerfulness; You’re a wonderful friend Chrysanthemum (red) – I love Chrysanthemum (white) – Truth Chrysanthemum (yellow) -Slighted love Clematis – Clever, intellectual Columbine – Mental beauty Coreopsis – Always cheerful Coriander – Lust Cornflower – Delicacy Cosmos – Modesty Cowslip – Pensiveness, winning grace Crocus – Cheerfulness, abuse not Cyclamen – Resignation and goodbye Clover – Good luck Daffodil – Respect, chivalry Daisy – Innocence, He loves me he loves me not Dahlia – Instability Dandelion – Wishes come true Day Lily – Coquetry Delphinium – Big-hearted, fun Dogwood – Durability Ebony – Blackness Edelweiss: Daring, Noble Courage Eremurus – Endurance. Euphorbia – Persistence Eucalyptus – Protection Fennel – Worthy of all praise Fern – Sincerity Fern – (Magic) – Fascination, confidence and shelter Fern- (Maidenhair) – Secret bond of love Feverfew – Protection Fir – Time Flax – Domestic symbol; fate Flytrap – Deceit. Forget-me-not – True love, memories Forsythia – Anticipation Four Leaf Clover – Good luck, be mine. Foxglove- Insincerity. Freesia – Innocence, thoughtfulness. Fuschia – Taste Gardenia – You’re lovely; secret love, joy, sweet love, good luck Garland of roses – Reward of virtue Garlic – Courage; strength Geranium (Scented) – Preference, melancholy Gladiolus – Love at first sight, tells recipients that they pierce the heart like a sword. Because the gladiolus has blade-shaped leaves, the name comes from the Latin word gladius, which means sword Gloxina – Love at first sight Grass – Submission; utility Heather (lavender) – Admiration, solitude Heather (white) – Protection, wishes will come true Hibiscus – Delicate beauty Holly – Good will, Defense, domestic happiness; foresight Hollyhock -: Ambition, fruitfulness Honeysuckle – Generous and devoted affection, sweet disposition Hyacinth (general) – Games and sports; rashness Hyacinth (blue) – Constancy Hyacinth ( purple) – I’m sorry; please forgive me; sorrow Hyacinth (red or pink) – Play Hyacinth (white) – Loveliness Hyacinth (yellow) – Jealousy Hydrangea – Thank you for understanding, frigidity, heartlessness Hyssop – Wards away evil spirits Iris – Faith; hope, wisdom and valor, your friendship means so much to me, my compliments Ivy – Fidelity and friendship Ivy – sprig of white tendrils – Anxious to please, affection Jasmine – Amiability, attracts wealth, sensuality Jasmine (Yellow) – Grace, elegance. Jonquil – Love me, affection returned, desire, sympathy, desire for a return of affection Juniper - Protection Lady Slipper – Capricious beauty Larkspur – Fickleness Larkspur purple – First love. Lavender – Devotion, distrust, Induces sleep Lemon – Zest Lemon Balm – Brings love Lemon verbena – Attracts opposite sex Lilac – Youthful, humility, confidence Lily (general) – Keeps unwanted visitors away Lily (calia) – Beauty Lily (day) – Coquetry Lily (eucharis) – Maiden charms Lily (orange) – I burn for you Lily (tiger) – Wealth, pride Lily (white) – Virginity, purity; majesty, it’s heavenly to be with you Lily (yellow) – I’m walking on air; false and gay Lily of the valley – sweetness, return to happiness; humility, purity, you’ve made my life complete Magnolia – Sweetness; beauty, love of nature Marigold – Comforts the heart, grief Mint – Protection from illness; warmth of feeling Marjoram (sweet) – Joy and happiness Mimosa – Sensitivity Mistletoe – Kiss me, affection, to surmount difficulties Monkshood – Beware, a deadly foe is near, chivalry Morning Glory – Loves you Moss – Maternal love, charity Myrtle – Love Narcissus – Egotism; formality, stay as sweet as you are Nasturtium – Conquest, victory in battle, maternal love, charity, patriotism Oleander – Caution, beware Olive Branch – Peace Orange Blossom – Brings wisdom Orange Mock – Deceit Orchid – Love; beauty; refinement, beautiful lady, Mature charm Palm leaves – Victory and success Pansy – Thoughts, love, recipient is being thought about. The flower’s name comes from the French word pensée, which means thought or remembrance Paperwhite – Aphrodisiac due to its intoxicating scent Peach Blossom – Longevity, Generosity and Bridal Hope Pear Blossom: Health and Hope Peony – bashfulness, Aphrodisiac, happy marriage Petunia – Resentment, anger, oblivious, imagination Phlox – Unanimity, agreement, Poinsettia – Be of Good Cheer Poppy – extravagance Poppy (red) – Pleasure, consolation Poppy (white) – Consolation, sleep Poppy( yellow) – Wealth, success Prickly Pear – Satire Primrose – I can’t live without you; early youth Primrose(evening) – Inconstancy Queen Anne’s Lace – Fantasy Rose (general) – Love, I love you Rose (black) –Death Rose(burgundy) – Mourning Rose(damask) – Brilliant complexion Rose (lavender)- Love at first sight Rose (orange) – Fascination, display feeling of enthusiasm Rose (peach) – Desire, gratitude, appreciation, admiration, sympathy, modesty. Rose (pink) – Perfect happiness, please believe me, friendship Rose (red) I love you, courage, beauty Rose (red and white) – Together, unity Rose( white) – Eternal Love, innocence, heavenly, secrecy and silence, purity Rose(Yellow) – Friendship , jealousy, try to care, decrease of love, infidelity Rose(thorn less) – Love at first sight Rose( single, full bloom) – I love you, I still love you, simplicity Rose bud – Beauty and youth, a heart innocent of love Rose bud (red) – Pure and lovely Rose bud(white) – Girlhood Rosebud (moss) – Confessions of love Roses (Bouquet of full bloom) – Gratitude Roses( Garland or crown of) – Beware of virtue, reward of merit, crown, symbol of superior merit Roses ( musk cluster) – Charming Rose(tea) – I’ll always remember Rose(cabbage) – Ambassador of love Rose(Christmas) – Tranquilize my anxiety, anxiety Rose(hibiscus) – Delicate beauty Rose leaf – You may hope Rosemary – Remembrance Sage Wisdom – long life Salvia -(blue) I think of you Smilax – Loveliness Snapdragon – Deception; gracious lad, presumption Snowdrop- Hope and Consolation Spiderflower – Elope with me Stephanotis – Happiness in marriage, desire to travel Stock – Lasting beauty Strawberry – Perfect goodness Sunflower – Loyalty; wishes, haughtiness Sweetpea – Goodbye; departure, blissful pleasure, Thank you for a lovely time Sweet William – Gallantry, smile, finesse Thyme – Strength and courage; ensures restful sleep Tulip (general) – Fame, charity, perfect lover Tulip (red) – Believe me; declaration of love Tulip (variegated) – Beautiful eyes Tulip (yellow) – Hopeless love Violet – Modesty, calms tempers Violet (blue) – Watchfulness, faithfulness, I’ll always be true Violet (white) – Let’s take a chance on happiness Viscaria – Will you dance with me? Wallflower - Friendship, Adversity Water Lily – Purity of heart Woodruff – sweet humility Yarrow – healing, sorrow Zinnia – Thoughts of friends Zinnia (magenta) – Lasting affection Zinnia (mixed) – Thinking of an absent friend Zinnia (scarlet) – Constancy Zinnia(white) – Goodness Zinnia(yellow) – Daily remembrance
That's Amore ,

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