Take a step back into Victorian times, when flower-rich bouquets and petite nosegays were arranged with attention not only to the beauty of the blooms but to their meanings as well.
In a rediscovery of traditions that go as far back as the Greeks and Romans, the 19th century saw thoughts, feelings, and wishes assigned to hundreds of plants and flowers. The result was a kind of floral code through which poetic suitors and the objects of their affections could coyly communicate in prim Victorian society.
Through time, some flowers have acquired multiple and even contradictory meanings, and not every flower has been assigned one. For example, foxglove, a cottage garden favorite, could mean either “insincerity” or “a wish,” depending on the occasion.
A modern approach to communicating with flowers calls for a loose interpretation of the meanings and a willingness to have fun. Feel free to make one or several symbolic flowers the stars of your bouquet, then fill in with blossoms that contribute beauty, but not necessarily meaning, to the arrangement.
The vast vocabulary of flowers can express sentiments for hundreds of occasions. Celebrate an anniversary by giving the lucky couple a bouquet of red and white roses, symbolizing “love” and “unity,” respectively, mixed with hydrangea and lavender, both of which communicate “devotion.” Or thank a friend with a clutch of bellflower, expressing “gratitude,” and daisy fleabane and parsley, which both mean “thank you.”
Finish each arrangement by attaching a handwritten tag that lists the meaning of each flower, or explain them in person when you deliver the bouquet. You might include a flower meanings reference book so the recipient can continue the tradition.
Our half-dozen blooming beauties mix stems cut from the garden with florist favorites in combinations pleasing to the eye and the heart. We hope they inspire you to compose your own poem in flowers.