Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tasteful Tuesday -- The Language of Flowers

I recently read a great book where the heroine was doing the artwork for a book on the meaning of flowers. I became fascinated by this "secret language," where you could send a message to your beloved by way of a bouquet.

Why had I never heard of this? Why wasn't TelaFlora advertising the heck out of the idea? A bouquet that holds a message -- that's perfect romance fodder. A beautiful, fragrant puzzle. Hey, if you're going to plunk down the cash for flowers, you could get that arrangement to do double-duty.

So, according to Wikipedia (I know, I need a better source), "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, an art which has a following today."

(I just love the phrase Tussie-Mussies.)

This is awesome stuff. And, I realized, a perfect topic for a Tasteful Tuesday blog! I was going to provide a list of flowers and their meanings, and have everyone put together a virtual bouquet to send to their beloved. (Or design the one they thought a lover would send to them.)

Five minutes on the internet, though, and I realized I'd hit a bit of a snag. Seems some of the meanings of flowers have gotten a little confused over the years, as several websites listed flowers and their meanings and they didn't quite agree.

This could be disastrous! Imagine you send your beloved Azaleas. If they went to this site, they'd be told it meant "abundance." But at this site, it would mean "Fragile and Ephemeral Passion." Not the same thing.

Even worse -- your beloved sends you Lavender. Depending which site Google ranks first, you could be translating that Lavender as either "distrust" or "devotion."

And I thought the Mars and Venus language gap was difficult to bridge. You could think you were sending one message and end up sending something else entirely.

Very tricky. And now that I can't find consensus on the internet for anything other than red tulips, a couple of rose types, and rosemary, my Tasteful Tuesday blog topic is shot.

But we can talk about flowers anyway. What kind of flowers do you like to receive? Are you a classic Red Rose kind of girl? Or would you rather have peonies? Irises? Daffodils? Any flowers send the wrong message to you?

(I actually don't like roses that much. I like calla lilies, orchids, peonies, and daisies. And I'm very superstitious about red carnations. They're bad luck. They give me the willies just looking at them. Of course, guess what the first flowers DG ever brought me were? I put a smile on my face, thanked him, and put them in the closet until they died -- only pulling them out when DG came to my room. Do you know how long it takes carnations to die? FOREVER. But it was the thought that counted. I know that he meant well. He now knows not to bring me red carnations. ~grin~)


***Instigator is blogging over a the Blaze Authors blog today about Christmas music. That's pretty Tasteful!


Virginia said...

I like the red rose but I love pink and yellow ones. Also very fond of tulips! Tulips are my favorite flower, maybe because they bloom in the spring and its like the world is coming to life.

Merri said...

Hi Kimberley, loved the blog.

One of the reasons you may have had a hard time pinning down the exact meaning of a flower is because many of them have duel meanings. I know yellow roses symbolise friendship and fidelity, and red, passion and love. Violets were for tender love, or budding affection which was why they were so popular in the Victorian era. The lily was supposed to symbolise sorrow, which is why they are associated with funerals, but they are also a symbol of rebirth, which is also why they are a flower associated with funerals. You could try this book ‘The Language of Flowers: A History (Victorian Literature & culture) by Beverly Seaton. I found a copy advertised on Amazon UK, though I thought it was rather expensive, but you could ask your local library to order you in a copy. And if you’re really interested in this subject as a research topic, you could try contacting the Victorian museum in London, they’re bound to give you some accurate information about the flower historians of the day.

My great-grandmother was a lace marker and embroiderer in Belfast in the 1800’s, and knowing the meaning of flowers and how to construct a message by embroidering flowers was part of her working life. Her talent for needlecraft was passed down, but sadly over the years her knowledge of the popular meanings behind flowers has pretty much faded. But this remains a subject that fascinates me. I often tell myself that I should look into it more.

Smarty Pants said...

I only know a couple of the roses - red (love, passion), yellow (friendship), pink (romantic love), white (pure love). That's about it.

As for me, I'm not that big on roses either. I'll take em, don't get me wrong, but I'd much prefer lilies, irises, tulips, hydrangea or daisies. And gardenia. I LOVE gardenia. Stargazer lilies used to be my absolute favorite, but not so much anymore. And there's something about daisies. They're just bright and cheery in a way I'll never be, I suppose.

Instigator said...

I love roses but not the traditional colors. I like the pink with white or yellow tips or red with white tips. I also love calla lilies and stargazer lilies.

The last time I got flowers was when Sweet Pea was born. I don't think Zilla really thinks about it. I mean, he grows lots of plants but not usually flowers. I wouldn't mind getting some but I refuse to tell him I want some...somehow that just defeats the purpose. I know, I'm such a girl.


Problem Child said...

I've been trying to grow tulips in my flower beds, Virginia, but it hasn't worked so far.

Thanks for the tip, Merri. And I love the idea of your g-g-mom embroidering the flower message. It's permanent that way!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

My absolute favorite flower for putting in vases in my house: tulips. You'd have to be an idiot to mess up a bouquet of tulips. They are so pretty, and their stems and leaves fold over the edge of the vase so artfully. Makes me look like a flower arranging genius.

I love roses, but my arrangements never look right.

Playground Monitor said...

If it's flowers, I love it. I don't care what kind or color (well, maybe black roses wouldn't be so hot). There's just something about fresh flowers that perk up the place. I get those little $5 bouquets from Walmart occasionally as a treat to myself. I may put them on my desk or on the bar in the kitchen.

Right now I have 2 real poinsettia plants in the house -- one on the bar and the other on the dining table as the centerpiece.

Great blog!

Sherry Werth said...

I love flowers. All kinds. My Christmas cactus is blooming now and I'm loving it. :)
I like to think I have a green thumb but the calla lily I tried to grow this year didn't think so. :(

I haven't thought about the language of flowers. That's cool.

Anonymous said...

great posting today...My favourite flower is the tulip...I love the simplicity of it. And I especially love the spring season, with tulips in full bloom everywhere.


Kathy said...

Great blog, PC. I've been fascinated by the language of flowers and the Victorian era all my life. I wrote an article about the language of flowers for our newsletter a few years back. Hmmm... I need to upload it to my website sometime. It isn't there. LOL! ;)

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catslady said...

Just the idea of getting flowers makes me love them - they are the most impractical things and thus it makes it more precious to receive them.

Problem Child said...

We seem to be a tulip-liking gang around here. :-)

And my Christmas cactus is blooming too! (Of course, it started blooming at Thanksgiving, so it's a little confused.)

I think y'all have pegged an important part about flowers -- they're so impractical, yet so pretty. They make you happy, even though you know they won't last. I think it's a nice way to remember to appreciate *this* moment in time.

LA said...

Sunflowers always make me smile! I have tried to grow them the last couple of years, and had a small success this year. They grew like crazy in my courtyard in New Mexico, but the soil is very different here.
My Christmas cactus look great this year. All but one has bloomed.

Flowers said...

No matter what the reason or occasion might be, flowers say it the best. They are the best way to express our feelings and make our loved ones.

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