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Victorian Language of Flowers

[above] The book Tussie-Mussies by herbalist and writer Geri Laufer deals with the language of flowers.

In both nineteenth century Europe and America there was much interest in the language of flowers.

The idea behind it was that flowers expressed thoughts and sentiments just like words and sentences.

They formed a message to a particular person.

Nicolette Scourse in her book The Victorians and their Flowers writes about the langauge of flowers.

A rose meant love. A bouquet could be a complete letter.

 Each flower had its own definition of a feeling or sensation. People used them to convey an emotional state. The jonquil meant, “I desire a return of affection.”

In a radio interview writer Romie Stott discussed flower language. Flower-obsessed Victorians encoded messages in bouquets they sent one another.

 She said, “The language of flowers in the Victorian period went by the name floriography.

“Between 1827 and 1923 there were as many as ninety-eight flower dictionaries in the United States.”

 Thus, flowers were more than a simple plant.

They once became a way to relate to others, like a language with its own community of members who spoke it.


The Garden Museum in London recently posted this beautiful illustration on Twitter. [below]

It is a postcard from around 1910 simply entitled “The language of flowers.”

The card shows eighteen different flowers and their symbolic meaning.

A Victorian practice emerged where each variety of flower conveyed a particular sentiment.

Courtesy of: Garden Museum London

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