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book with rose

Do you speak flower? It’s such a lovely language

Do you ever wonder why it is it that we give flowers as a gesture of love on Valentine’s Day? Is it because they’re beautiful and it’s meaningful to give beautiful things? Well, yes, of course, that’s absolutely part of it. But the real answer lies in floriography, or the language of flowers.

An ancient language

So, flowers have been used to communicate emotion for thousands of years. For example, The Hebrew Bible’s Song of Songs — an ancient text if there ever was one — uses plants and flowers symbolically in what’s essentially a celebration of love. And Shakespeare was very fond of using floral imagery in his works — his 16th century plays used the word ‘flower ‘more than a hundred times.

book with rose

The Victorian era's influence

But, to bring things closer to the modern era, we use flowers to say “I love you”, and other lovely things thanks to an ongoing influence of the Victorian era, particularly in England and other parts of Europe, when the tradition of saying what you felt with flowers had a real resurgence. There were books published about the language of flowers, and literature and poetry incorporated floral references. And it wasn’t just the flowers themselves that spoke volumes, but even such things as which hand was used to present them could communicate. For example, to answer a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question If the flowers were given with the right hand, the answer was ‘yes’, and if the left hand was used, the answer was ‘no’. We suppose ‘undecided’ meant you held the flowers in both hands? But we digress.

Perhaps not entirely helpfully, the meaning attached to flowers was not fixed, and could vary from region to region. Languages of all kinds have dialects, even that of flowers. Imagine that.

Some flower meanings we’re loving right now:

  • red roses (of course) for love, romance, beauty and courage
  • white roses for innocence and purity
  • orchids generally reperesent love, luxury, beauty, strength and refinement
  • yellow orchids for friendship and new beginnings
  • purple orchids for respect and admiration
  • anthuriums represent love and romance (their flowers are aka Cupid’s arrows)
  • everlastings (dried flowers) suggest constant, enduring love (everybody say ‘awww’)
orchids
anthurium
dried flowers

Our Down To Earth flower shop speaks fluent flower

If you have something you’d like to say with flowers, Down to Earth’s (formerly Bayview Blossoms) owner Kim Mayo and her team speak the language of flowers very well indeed. Plus, at Down to Earth you’ll find other lovely things to kick your message up a notch — from chocolates to candles to gift cards and beyond. Check out the shop at its new website here, and then give them a call to order your perfect V-Day arrangement, one that speaks volumes indeed about the depth of your love for a special someone. (PS: we’d never tell if that special someone was yourself. Just sayin’.)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

yellow petaled flower by elias sorey unsplash

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