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Valentine's Day Season

"Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze."

~ Caroline Gold Heilbrun

The romantic art of cryptological communication with flowers has been practiced in traditional cultures for hundreds of years. Interest in floriography soared in Victorian England and in the United States during the 18 and 19th centuries, based on a reintroduction of meanings from the Turkish court of Constantinople. Gifts of blooms, plants, and specific floral arrangements were used to send a coded message to the recipient, allowing the sender to express feelings which could not be spoken aloud in Victorian society. Armed with floral dictionaries, Victorians often exchanged small "talking bouquets", called nosegays or tussie-mussies, which could be worn or carried as a fashion accessory. William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, and children's novelist Frances Hodgson Burnett, among others, used the language of flowers in their writings, while the Pre-Raphaelites surrounded their subjects with symbolic blooms.

The language of flowers, sometimes called floriography, is a means of cryptological communication through the use or arrangement of flowers. Meanings and magic has been attributed to flowers, plants, and trees for thousands of years, and some form of floriography has been practiced in traditional cultures throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Interest in floriography increased in Victorian England and in the United States during the 19th century. Gifts of blooms, plants, and specific floral arrangements were used to send coded messages to the recipient, allowing the sender to express feelings which could not be spoken aloud in Victorian society.

 

Armed with floral dictionaries, Victorians often exchanged small "talking bouquets", called nosegays or tussie-mussies, which could be worn or carried as a fashion accessory.

Roses, particularly red roses, are a common Valentine's day offering with the meaning of "love."   But other flowers can express sentiments ranging from misanthropy (Wolfsbane) to stupidity (Geranium).  ​

For a facebook group devoted to the secret meanings and messaging of 19th Victorian Flower language, click the flower border.