Tuesday, October 17, 2017  


Nothing Sends A Message Like Flowers!


Flowers speak a language of their own, and itís not difficult to see why. Their beauty and colors were used in Victorian times to communicate feelings between friends, lovers and acquaintances. They were sent in bouquets, given singly, and printed on postcards.

In a time when etiquette was of greatest importance, it was necessary to have a listing of varieties of flowers and their meanings. With this information, bouquets of flowers could be arranged to imply several meanings. Single flowers could convey feelings just as strongly as an arrangement. Presenting these flowers to the receiver in the upright position was a friendly gesture. Upside down had the opposite meaning.

Postcards, which were elaborately decorated with different types of flowers and special greetings, passed along messages as well. Most often, postcards conveyed feelings of friendship and love.

As a popular choice for postcards, roses have always been associated with love. The color of the rose, however, can represent different meanings, some of which arenít so friendly.

Other flowers and plants usually seen on postcards included ivy (friendship, fidelity), holly for Christmas (foresight), lilies for Easter (magnificence), and forget-me-nots for all occasions (true love).

Flowers could also relay uncomplimentary messages. For example, a yellow rose or French marigold symbolized jealousy; rhododendron meant danger. Friendly messages, however, were more common.

Listed below are flowers and their meanings, as known in the late 19th and early 20th centuries:



RECOMMENDED READING:

For more information about flowers and their meanings:
Language of Flowers, by Kate Greenaway.

For more information about Victorian flower illustrators:
Women of Flowers: A Tribute to Victorian Women Illustrators, by Jack Kramer

For leisure poetry reading with superb Victorian style floral illustrations:
The Country Flowers of a Victorian Lady, by Fanny Robinson

Return to Victorian Customs


ALYSSUM = worthy beyond beauty
AMARYLLIS = pride, timidity, splendid beauty
ASTER = afterthought
AZALEA = first love, temperance
BACHELORíS BUTTON = celibacy
BELL FLOWER, white = gratitude
BELLES OF IRELAND = good luck
BUTTERCUP = childishness
CAMELLIA
red = unpretentious quality
white = perfect loveliness
CARNATION
red = alas! For my poor heart
variegated = refusal, rejection
white = innocence
yellow = disregard
CHRYSANTHEMUM
red = I love
white = truth
yellow = slighted love
CLEMATIS = mental beauty
CLOVER = good luck
COLUMBINE = foolishness
DAHLIA = instability
DAISY = innocence
DOGWOOD = love not lessened by misfortune
FERN = fascination
FORGET-ME-NOT = true love
FORSYTHIA = good nature
FREESIA = innocence
FRENCH MARIGOLD = jealousy
GARDENIA = loveliness
GERANIUM, red = comfort
HEATHER = solitude
HOLLY = foresight
HOLLYHOCK = ambition
HONEYSUCKLE = devoted love/fidelity
HYACINTH = playfulness
IRIS = friendship
IVY = friendship, marriage, fidelity
JUNIPER = protection
LILAC
purple = first emotion of love
white = young innocence
MAGNOLIA = love of nature
MARIGOLD = grief, mourning
MOSS = maternal love
NARCISSUS = egotism
ORANGE BLOSSOM = purity
ORCHID = a lovely lady
PANSY = you occupy my thoughts
PEONY = bashfulness
PHLOX = our souls are united
POPPY
orange = consolation
deep red = great extravagance
white = sleep
yellow = hopeless love
RHODODENDRON = danger
ROSE
burgundy = unconscious beauty
deep red = bashfulness
pink = perfect happiness
white = I am worthy of you
yellow = jealousy
ROSEMARY = remembrance
SNAPDRAGON = presumption
SUNFLOWER
tall = haughtiness
dwarf = adoration
SWEET BASIL = good wishes
SWEET PEA = delicate pleasure
SWEET WILLIAM = gallantry
TULIP
red = declaration of love
variegated = beautiful eyes
yellow = Are you true to my love?
VIOLET, blue = faithfulness
WATER LILY = purity of heart
WEEPING WILLOW = mourning
WHEAT = friendliness
ZINNIA = remembrance, memories