Ideas & Inspiration

Discover the Secret Language of Flowers

Communicate with Flowers
Communicate with Flowers

The custom of communicating through flowers flourished in the Victorian era, when gentlemen and ladies exchanged small bouquets, known as tussie-mussies, or nosegays, with blooms carefully chosen to express their feelings.

These days, we’re more familiar with relationships played out on social media. Back then, flowers were dispatched back and forth to convey the positive messages of love, friendship and admiration, and even the difficult emotions of jealousy, anger and indifference.

Roses, of course, carry the message of love from friendship to romance. In the beginning, a single rose leaf lets the recipient know “You may hope.” Further along, a single, perfect rose means “I love you.” Finally, brides carry red roses to symbolize joyous love on their special day.

On other occasions, white roses are for innocence and secrecy, while yellow conveys joy and friendship. Petite rosebuds speak of beauty, youth and innocence. Dark pink roses stand for thankfulness and lavender roses mean enchantment.

Learn the Language of Flowers
Learn the Language of Flowers

Roses are just one category of floriography, the official name for the language of flowers. In Victorian times, dictionaries were published to categorize the various floral meanings.

Today, you can take a stroll through your landscape for more floral conversation:

  • Exquisite camellias are for romantic love.
  • Gardenias are for newly budding romance.
  • Rhododendrons, on the other hand, speak of danger.
  • Innocent-looking hydrangeas have two denotations: either gratitude or heartlessness.

Elsewhere in the garden, the evergreen strands of ivy stand for everlasting friendship.

And ferns, some of the oldest plants on earth, speak of magic and secret confidences.

Look for sprigs of ivy and fern in floral arrangements; they bring their own meanings to bouquets.

Lessons from the Landscape
Lessons from the Landscape

From the herb garden, pine-scented rosemary is for remembrance, thyme for happiness and courage. Sage symbolizes long life and good health. Share a few sprigs of summertime basil for love and good wishes.

More from the language of flowers:

  • Forget-me-not, of course, means to remember.
  • Holly stands for defense and domestic happiness.
  • Magnolia symbolizes nobility.
  • Primrose means “I can’t live without you.”
  • Violets convey modesty or faithfulness.
Create a Tussie-Mussie
Create a Tussie-Mussie

The thoughtful gardener can pluck blooms and herbs from his or her garden and create a tussie-mussie, with or without store-bought blooms.

As you choose flowers for your tussie-mussie, consider color, shape and fragrance. Traditionally, tussie-mussies were held to the nose to bring a sweet fragrance to disguise less-than-pleasant aromas. Click through for a step-by-step guide to making a tussie-mussie.