Say It With Flowers

Over the past few hundred years, both cultivated and native flowers have become associated with sentiments. In the 1600’s, in Constantinople, flowers were used by lovers to convey messages to each other, without having to speak or write. This “language” of flowers was introduced to Europe by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, a well known society poet. In 1716, she accompanied her husband to Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), and during her stay, she sent a letter to England in which she explained the meanings of flowers and plants. The passing of messages using this floral code was adopted by the French, and then later returned to England during Victoria’s reign.

More than 800 flowers have special meanings associated with them. It all becomes quite complicated when factoring in the side the flower is worn on, how flowers are grouped, which hand was used to present and accept the flowers, etc.

The following are a few of the ones I found interesting:

White Rosebud = a heart ignorant of love
Sweet William = a smile
Dwarf Sunflower = adoration
Peony = bashfulness
Passion Flower = belief
Oleander = beware
Hydrangea = a boaster
Buttercup = childishness
Chrysanthemum = cheerfulness under adversity
Red Poppy = consolation
Sycamore = curiosity
Red Tulip = declaration of love
Sweet Pea = departure
Lavender = distrust
Variegated tulip = beautiful eyes
Water Willow = freedom
Multiflora rose = grace
Marigold = grief
Basil = hatred
Snowdrop = hope <— I get that one!
White Rose = I am worthy of you
Iris = I have a message for you
Candytuft = indifference
Purple Lilac = the first emotions of love
Moss = maternal love
Ivy = marriage
Pine = pity
Goldenrod = precaution
Amaryllis = pride
Daffodil = regard
Fern = sincerity
White Poppy = sleep
Currant = Thy frown will kill me
Meadowsweet = uselessness
Mint = virtue
Foxglove = a wish
Pansy = you occupy my thoughts
Lemon = zest

Flowers and their meanings:
The Birthday Book


Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

6 thoughts on “Say It With Flowers”

  1. How interesting, Nancy. Thanks for sharing that with us — who knew! I’d heard of a few of them from Valentine’s Day news features. It really is amazing how many layers of rich history there is in gardening.

  2. I an honoured you visited my blog and I am delighted to have found yours. I send you daffodils in the language of flowers.

  3. nancy … nice post ! … I hate to see flowers mean anything other than how pretty they are .. but again .. we humans have to DO that don’t we ? LOL

  4. Uh oh… In my latest manuscript the spirit of my heroine’s aunt sends the scent of lavender. I guess I need to change that. At least I have a list now. Thanks!!!!

  5. A recent young adult mystery I read featured the language of flowers. The mother of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes disappears, leaving her fourteen year old daughter. The girl finds a bouquet with sweet peas and knows her mother was leaving her a message that she was leaving, so the girl didn’t have to fear a kidnapping.

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