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Say It With Flowers

Be careful giving flowers. The choice of bouquet on Valentine's Day could convey more than you intend.

Presenting your lover with primroses suggests the opening of one's heart and the dawning of true love, but offer snapdragons and the message is plain: "go away!"

This kind of floral code, known as "florigraphy," was especially popular among the romantics of Victorian England about a hundred years ago. Each flower and tree had a meaning all its own. Presenting sprigs or blooms from a given plant was a shorthand way of saying "it was love at first sight!" (thornless roses) or "I am your slave forever" (wild geraniums).

Remnants of this botanical language linger in our culture. The daisy is still a symbol of purity and Forget-me-nots remain faithful.

Which interpretations linger in our subconscious we can't be sure. (What does a marigold suggest?) So, take care in choosing flowers. Here's what they could be saying:
  • Bluebell. "I am faithful"
  • Carnation, pink. "I'll never forget you."
  • Carnation, red. "My heart aches for you."
  • Carnation, yellow. "You have disappointed me."
  • Daffodil. "I will not return your affections."
  • Evening primrose. "Humbly, I adore you."
  • Fuchsia. "Take heed, your beloved is false!"
  • Geranium, scarlet. "I do not trust you."
  • Holly: "I thank God you are restored to health."
  • Honeysuckle. "This is a token of my love."
  • Jonquil. "Please answer me soon. Dare I hope you love me?"
  • Lavender. "I can only ever be your friend."
  • Lilac, purple. "You are my first love."
  • Lilac, white. "A tribute to your beauty and spirituality."
  • Lily, white. "I kiss your fingertips."
  • Lily, tiger. "My passion burns like a firebrand!"
  • Magnolia. "Your jealousy is without foundation."
  • Narcissus. "You love none but yourself."
  • Orchid. "I shall make your life a sweet one."
  • Passion-flower. "I am pledged to another."
  • Periwinkle. "My heart was mine until we met."
  • Roses, basketful. "Take the treasures of my heart."
  • Roses, bridal. "Happy love."
  • Roses, red. "I love you."
  • Sweet-pea. "Your memory is a lingering fragrance."
  • Trumpet-flower. "My heart is aflame for you."
  • Violet. "Pure and sweet art thou."
  • Wistaria. "I cling to thee."
  • Zinnia. "Where there is love there can be no separation

Daffodils by Patricia Schnepf

Still Life In Lavender
Still Life in Lavender

Le Langage des Fleurs by Madame de la Tour, 1872.
Gardenspells by Claire Nahmad, Running Press, 1994

Le Langage des Fleurs
Le Langage des Fleurs


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