The language of flowers

As you know, I love flowers. With Valentine's Day right around the corner there's no better time to write about them. This is the first in a series of posts on the subject.

I just read The New York Times best selling novel The Language of Flowers. The novel's main character  -- aptly named Victoria -- is obsessed with flowers and their meanings so much so that she creates her own dictionary. It is included at the end of the book.

I've been fascinated with the meaning of flowers since I took a class many years ago given by floral poet Geraldine Laufer author of Tussie-Mussies: The Victorian Art of Expressing Yourself in the Language of Flowers. A tussie-mussie aka "talking bouquet" or "word poesy" is a circular nosegay whose fragrant herbs and flowers carry a message to the recipient. Geraldine signed my book "To Maureen with magnolia and mint!" Magnolia: sweetness, beauty and perseverance. Mint: warmth of feeling.

The Victorian language of flowers began with the publication of Le Language des Fleurs, written by Charlotte de Latour and printed in Paris in 1819. To create the book--which was a list of flowers and their meanings--de Latour gathered references to flower symbolism throughout poetry, ancient mythology and even medicine. The book was translated into most European languages, and was widely imitated (and plagiarized). 

I have several flower dictionaries. I like Geraldine's best because it's organized by flower, as well as sentiment. So if I wanted to send someone a sympathy gift I just look under sympathy, sorrow or remembrance. Rosemary, BTW, is an excellent choice. It is inexpensive, fragrant and can be planted in the garden for long-lasting memory.
Peonies -- preferably pink -- are my all-time favorite flowers. I have several plants in my garden and look forward to blooming season each year usually around Mother's Day. Unfortunately, the blooms last for only a few weeks.

What is its meaning you ask?
If you love peonies, you have high ideals and strongly held values. You are courageous enough to maintain your opinion even when it makes you stand out from the crowd. Since others admire you and find you inspirational - they might even be a little jealous or in awe of you - you are likely to achieve great things in life. [like this blog!]
--from The Secret Language of Flowers by Samantha Gray
Photo image Tracey Ayton 

From one of my favorite shelter mags Style At Home I just love how this white vase of pink peonies is juxtaposed with the zebra-covered book beneath it.
Hydrangea  -- the namesake of this blog -- means devotion, remembrance, boastfulness. 
What's your favorite flower? Did your wedding bouquet contain any sentimental flowers? 
Send me your faves in comments below, and I will reply with their meanings. Please specify color. A white rose signifies something completely different than say a yellow one.


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  2. I am a Gardenia girl! I love the enchanting fragrance and the strength of this delicate flower in numbers. Nothing brings me more joy than to see my yard filled those simple, delicate flowers. I have heard they can be hard to grow, but mine seem quite at home- they bloom forever. I read that they symbolize purity and sweetness. They indicate secret love and convey joy. Giving them as a gift is said to tell the receiver 'you are lovely'. My favorite way to display the perfect Gardenia is a single bloom with three or four leaves from its sprig in a simple glass bud vase. The simplicity of its beauty speaks for itself.

    1. You nailed it Allison. I love gardenias too. They are considered a courtship flower. Here's a complete meaning for you two Augusta gals:

      If you love gardenias, there is a pure sweetness to your nature like that encapsulated in the flower itself. People crave your companionship because you bring with you a joyfulness that is infectious, benefiting everyone around you. You are an admirer of beauty and have a natural appreciation of symmetry and balance. You have probably made your home a serene and lovely place to return to.

    2. I love this! I think I will read it to Spencer (unless you've convinced him, Maureen, to subscribe.) And, if my home is not a serene and lovely place to return to, it's totally Tommy Two Tone Knap's fault!!

    3. I read it to Spencer. His only comment. Ask Maureen the meaning of momkeygrass. I replied monkey grass is not a flower. Your thoughts?

  3. Allison & I think alike. Dove soap & gardenias. I adore them (gardenias.). A friend of mine once wore a gardenia in her hair to a party. A non-Southern, shall we say, gentleman commented that her magnolia blossom was lovely. We both thought that was such a hoot!

  4. Allison & I think alike. Dove soap & gardenias. I adore them (gardenias.). A friend of mine once wore a gardenia in her hair to a party. A non-Southern, shall we say, gentleman commented that her magnolia blossom was lovely. We both thought that was such a hoot!

  5. I also love gardenias. After our wedding ceremony, I ditched the long veil and had gardenias added to my hair. They scent reminds me of my wedding - and I feel so fortunate to have Suzann'sngardenias right outside my kitchen window - her' seem to bloom forever and I love the scent as I walk down the driveway.

  6. I love all the flowers that have been mentioned, but I think hydrangeas are my favorites. My wedding bouquet was all white and I know it had roses and hyacinth and probably some other things I can't remember!

    1. My bouquet was all white too. Meaning of white roses: "you're heavenly," charm, wisdom, secrecy, sympathy, humility, youthfulness and innocence.

      I'll include this rose giving guide on how many roses to send a loved one to convey the right message. You might want to run this by your significant others before Valentines Day.

      1 red rose:"I love you," "you are the one," "love at first sight"
      1 red and 1 white: mutual love or desire, unity
      3 red roses: "I love you"
      4 roses:considered unlucky
      6 roses: "I want to be yours"
      7 roses: "I am infatuated"
      10 roses: "You are perfect"
      12 roses: "Be mine"
      50 roses: "My love is unconditional"

  7. My favorites, like yours Maureen, are Peonies. Such bountiful yet delicate blooms. I had them in pink with white roses at my wedding. They bring back fond memories.

  8. Heisann!
    I stumble upon your blog looking for the message of Magnolia. I have several posts on my blog with themes dealing the language of flower, mostly written in Norwegian! Please, be welcome to visit
    Wild and Wonderful ;:OD) I will link to your blog on todays post!


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