Friday, May 21, 2010

The Victorian Art & Language of Flower Arranging

In the time-travel romantic comedy, "Kate & Leopold" (2001), Hugh Jackman's character, a Victorian duke, pays particular attention to the type of flowers to choose for a lady, and admonishes a young friend who casually picks out a bouquet at a flower store for his date. Similarly, in the BBC miniseries, "Wives and Daughters" (1999), hopeful lover Roger Hamley asks Molly Gibson to choose a flower from a bouquet he gathered for her, as a pledge to him. Molly's choice of a red rose for Roger ultimately signifies something more than a random choice based on fragrance or appearance. The Victorians were familiar with various meanings that were associated to different flowers, such that a bouquet often conveyed an understood meaning to the recipient. For example, ivy conveyed fidelity, and was therefore a popular filler for a bride's bouquet. Sometimes a specific colors of a specific flower had different meanings as well. A red rose meant love, while a yellow rose friendship. A gentleman who gave a red rose to a young lady had to be certain that the sentiment was appropriate at their stage of the relationship. A tussie mussie, or hand-held bouquet, was often a careful, deliberate gift during the Victorian age. The giver spent much time not only choosing the flowers, but putting together an arrangement that would convey a hidden message. Below is a list of flowers and herbs, along with their Victorian meanings. And keep reading for instructions on how to make your own Victorian tussie mussie or holiday centerpiece.

Almond flowers -- Hope
Anemone -- Forsaken
Balm -- Sympathy
Basil -- Best wishes
Bay leaf -- "I change but in death"
Bell flower, white -- Gratitude
Bergamot -- Irresistible
Bluebell -- Constancy
Borage -- Courage
Broom -- Humility
Campanula -- Gratitude
Carnation, red -- "Alas for my poor heart"
China rose -- Beauty always new
Chrysanthemum -- Love
Clover, four leaved -- "Be mine"
Convolvulus, major -- Extinguished hopes or eternal sleep
Coreopsis, arkansa -- Love at first sight
Cuckoo pint -- Ardour
Daffodil -- Regard
Daisy -- Innocence, new-born, "I share your sentiment"
Fennel -- Flattery
Fern -- Sincerity
Forget-Me-Not -- True love
Furze or Gorse -- Enduring affection
French Marigold -- Jealousy
Gardenia -- Ecstasy
Gentian -- Loveliness
Geranium -- "You are childish"
Hare bell -- Grief
Heartsease -- "I am always thinking of you"
Honeysuckle -- Bonds of love
Heather -- Admiration
Ice Plant -- "Your appearance freezes me"
Ivy -- Fidelity, friendship, marriage
Jasmine -- Grace
Jonquil -- "I hope for return of affection"
Lavender -- Luck, devotion
Lemon Balm -- Sympathy
Lily -- Purity, modesty
Lily of the Valley -- Purity, the return of happiness
Marigold -- Health, grief or despair
Marjoram -- Kindness, courtesy
Myrtle -- Fidelity
Oregano -- Joy
Pansy -- Loving thoughts
Periwinkle -- Happy memory
Phlox -- Agreement
Poppy, red -- Consolation
Rose, cabbage -- Ambassador of love
Rose, red -- Love
Rose, pink -- Grace, beauty
Rose, yellow -- Friendship
Rosemary -- Remembrance, constancy
Rue -- Contrition
Sage -- Gratitude, domestic virtue
Snowdrop -- Hope
Star of Bethlehem -- Purity
Sweet Pea -- Departure, tender memory
Sweet William -- Gallantry
Tuberose -- Voluptuousness
Tulip, red -- Reclamation of love
Violet -- Loyalty, modesty, humility
Violet, blue -- Faithfulness
Wormwood -- Grief
Wheat -- Riches of the continuation of life
Willow, weeping -- Mourning
Wallflower -- Fidelity
Yew -- Sorrow

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