Floriography

The Turks in the 17th century seemed to develop flower meanings, as a way for the concubine women who could not read or write to communicate with each other. In 1718 the wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople, Lady Mary Wortley, wrote a letter expounding on the “Secret Language of Flowers” that she had discovered during her visits to Turkey. Europeans quickly picked up on the concept.

In 1819 Louise Cortambert, under the pen name, Madame Charlotte de la Tour, wrote and published what seems to have been the first dictionary of the flower language entitled, Le Language des Fleurs. It was a small book, but it became a popular reference on the subject.

During the Victorian era, the meaning and language of flowers became increasingly popular. Victorian women especially picked up the silent language that allowed them to communicate feelings and meanings that the strict propriety of the times would not allow.

In 1884 a whole book on the subject and entitled, The Language of Flowers, by Jean Marsh and illustrated by Kate Greenaway, was published in London. It became popular and respected and has been the standard source for Victorian flower meanings. But you had to be careful, as so many new floral dictionaries were published, that your loved one had the same dictionary, or huge miscommunications could ensue! William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and many others, all used the language of flowers in their writings.

Here are some selected flowers and their meanings: a short dictionary.

Almond flowers — Hope

Anemone — Forsaken

Aster — Symbol of love

Balm — Sympathy

Basil — Best wishes

Bay leaf — “I change but in death”

Bell flower, white — Gratitude

Bergamot — Irresistible

Bluebell — Constancy

Borage — Courage

Broom — Humility

Campanula — Gratitude

Carnation, pink — I’ll never forget you

China rose — Beauty always new

Clover, four leaved — “Be mine”

Coreopsis — Love at first sight

Daffodil — Regard

Daisy — Innocence, new-born, “I share your sentiment”

Fennel — Flattery

Fern — Sincerity

Forget-Me-Not — True love

French Marigold — Jealousy

Gardenia — Ecstasy

Gentian — Loveliness

Geranium — “You are childish”

Hare bell — Grief

Honeysuckle — Bonds of love

Heather — Admiration

Hyacinth — I am sorry, Please forgive me

Ivy — Fidelity, friendship, marriage

Jasmine — Grace

Jonquil — “I hope for return of affection”

Lavender — Luck, devotion

Lemon Balm — Sympathy

Lilac — First love

Lily — Purity, modesty

Lily of the Valley — Purity, the return of happiness

Lily, Calla — Magnificent Beauty

Marigold — Health, grief or despair

Marjoram — Kindness, courtesy

Myrtle — Fidelity

Oregano — Joy

Orchid — Love, beauty, refinement

Pansy — Loving thoughts

Peony — Good health, happiness

Periwinkle — Happy memory

Phlox — Agreement

Poppy, red — Consolation

Primrose — I can’t live without you

Rose, cabbage — Ambassador of love

Rose, red — Love

Rose, pink — Grace, beauty

Rose, yellow — Friendship

Rosemary — Remembrance, constancy

Sage — Gratitude, domestic virtue

Snowdrop — Hope

Star of Bethlehem — Purity

Sweet Pea — Departure, tender memory

Sweet William — Gallantry

Tuberose — Voluptuousness

Tulip, red — My perfect lover, Reclamation of love

Violet — Loyalty, modesty, humility

Violet, blue — Faithfulness

Wormwood — Grief

Wheat — Riches of the continuation of life

Willow, weeping — Mourning

Wallflower — Fidelity

Yew — Sorrow

The Rose

The Rose is the flower whose meaning we most understand, but here are some details of the meaning of the Rose that may be of further interest.

Rose, Black – You are my obsession

Rose, Champagne – You are tender and loving

Rose, Leonidas – Sweet love

Rose, Nicole – You are graceful and elegant, aristocratic

Rose, Orange – You are my secret love

Rose, Pink – Brilliant complexion; the glow of your smile; perfect happiness

Rose, Red – Passionate love; I love you

Rose, Single Stems – Simplicity

Rose, White – I am worthy of you; spiritual love; Innocence and Purity; Secrecy and Silence

Rose, White and Red – We are inseparable

Rose, White and Red Mixed – Unity; Flower emblem of England

Rose, White, Dried – Death is preferable to loss of virtue

Rose, Yellow – Friendship; Jealousy; I am not worthy

Rose, Bridal – Happy Love

Rose, Dark Crimson – Mourning

Rose, Hibiscus – Delicate beauty

Rose, Tea – I’ll remember always

Rose, Thornless – Love at first sight

Roses, Bouquet of Mature Blooms – Gratitude

Multiple Roses

Single bloom red Rose – Love at first sight or I still love you

Single Rose, any color – Gratitude or simplicity

2 Roses – Mutual feelings

3 Roses – I love you

7 Roses – I’m infatuated with you

9 Roses – We’ll be together forever

10 Roses – You are perfect

11 Roses – You are my treasured one

12 Roses – Be mine

13 Roses – Friends forever

15 Roses – I’m truly sorry

20 Roses – I’m truly sincere towards you

21 Roses – I’m dedicated to you

24 Roses – Forever yours

25 Roses – Congratulations

50 Roses – Unconditional love

99 Roses – I will love you all the days of my life

108 Roses – Will you marry me?

999 Roses – I love you till the end of time