With St. Valentine's Day nearly upon us the shops are starting to fill up with red and pink themed gifts. Soon the buckets full of overpriced roses will be appearing. Spending on Valentine's gifts and going out is around the £1 billion figure in the UK – it really is big business and now an essential part of the economy for many retailers. Topping the gift list is of course flowers and with that red roses. For years they have been seen as the symbol of love but is there is an alternative floral way of saying, “I love you”?
The Victorians loved the intrigue and mystery that surrounded the giving and receiving flowers. In a time when contact between the opposite sexes was frowned upon except in the company of others flowers could provide a means of contact. Secret messages could easily be put together by sending some blooms. Such an art was also know as floriography.
Although the language of flowers dates back to the early Chinese Dynasties the concept wasn't made popular in Britain until the 18th century. Before then flower symbolism can be found in the Bible and with Shakespeare mentioning flowers and their meanings throughout his plays and sonnets. When Lady Mary Worthy Montgu was sent to Turkey in 1718 as wife of the Ambassador of Constantinople she started to notice the coded messages sent by the harems in the form of flowers. As a prolific writer of her observations this new language made its way back to the UK. Once Queen Victoria got interested in the subject it soon spread across the British Empire.
Nowadays the language of flowers has probably died out as such as we are happy to buy a bunch of ready wrapped flowers or cut whatever we have in our gardens. Perhaps this year you many want to say something else with your choice of flowers.
Absent friends - Zinnia
Constancy – Bluebell, Blue Hyacinth, Canterbury Bell
Declaration of love – Tulips
Devotion and Loyalty - Alstroemeria
Dignity – Magnolia
Endearment – White Carnation
Estranged love – Lotus flower
Extravagance – Scarlet poppy
Fascination – Flowering fern
Gallantry – Sweet William
Hope – Snowdrop
Indecision, maybe – Striped Carnation
Innocence – White daisy
I will never forget you – Pink Carnation
Love – Rose
Modesty and Purity – White Lily
Narcissus – Egotism
No! - Yellow Carnation
Peace - Olive
Regard – Daffodil
Return of happiness – Lily of the Valley
Sorrow – Red carnation
Strength of character - Gladiolus
True love – Forget-me-not
Unity – White and red rose together
Warmth – Cactus