Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, its fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give,
Thoughts that often do lie too deep for tears.
William Wordsworth, from Ode: Intimations of Immortality
Thus begins one of the reference books I use most often, The Language of Flowers, a tiny little purple book put out in 1991 by Running Press. I pick this book up frequently because in days gone by, a smitten swain did not text his damsel, nor did he IM her, post on her FB wall or otherwise put his sentiments into words. He had only to stop by the flower shop, or perhaps amble around his own blooming garden and chose a bouquet for his lady.
Contrary to what Wiki would have us believe, the language of flowers goes back at least a millennium, possibly to ancients times. The Victorians, by turns repressed and passionate, did make great use of floral messages, even refining them to the point that a flower given upside down meant its opposite, and every detail of the presentation—whether the flowers were loose or tied, what color and type of ribbon was used, the direction of the bow on the bouquet, whether the flowers were fresh or wilted—all had significance.
For purposes of the average doting swain, the following flowers would probably suffice:
Acacia—Secret Love Aloe—Grief
Amaryllis—Pride Arborvitae—Everlasting Friendship
Bachelor Button—Celibacy Baby’s Breath—Innocence
Asparagus—Fascination Bird of Paradise—Liberty, magnificence
Campanula—Gratitude Red Carnation—deep romantic love, passion
White carnation—pure love, faithfulness Yellow Carnation—disdain, rejection
Coriander—Lust Forget-Me-Not—True love
Grass—Submission Hydrangea—Frigidity, heartlessness
Iris—Messages, good news Lavender—Distrust
Lichen—Solitude Lilac—First emotions of love
Lily of the Valley—Returns of Happiness Lobelia—Malevolence
Love Lies Bleeding—Hopelessness Marigold—Pain and grief
Mint—Suspicion Morning glory—Love in vain
Oak leaf—Strength Olive—Peace
Pear blossom—Lasting friendship/shame Primrose—Eternal love
And of course, ever color of rose has its significance. To look up the flowers that arrived in your bouquet, you can start with the Wiki article here, but be aware that from one culture to another, and even one region to another, each flower’s significance can change.
Here’s hoping your bouquets are always full of: red and yellow roses together (joy), snowdrops (hope), wheat (prosperity), pink roses (grace) and arborvitae (ever lasting friendship).
If you were going to receive your ideal bouquet, what flowers would it include?