The Victorian Language of Flowers – Good Witches Homestead

The language of flowers was quite suited to Victorian England, for it allowed for communication between lovers without the knowledge of ever-present chaperones and parents. Messages that would be a social impossibility if spoken could be conveyed by sending certain types of flowers. How these flowers were sent was of great importance as well, for this was also part of the message. If the blossom was presented upright, it carried a positive thought. If the flower came upside down, it might mean quite the opposite. If the giver intended the message to refer to himself, he would incline the flower to the left. If the message referred to the recipient, it would be inclined toward the right. If flowers were used to answer a question and were handed over with the right hand it meant “yes’;  with the left hand, the answer was “no.” Other conditions of the plant were important as well. For example, if a boy sent a girl a rosebud with the leaves and thorns still on it, it meant ” I fear, but I hope.” If the rosebud was returned upside down, it meant, “you must neither fear nor hope.” If the rosebud was returned with the thorns removed, the message was “you have everything to hope for.” If the thorns were left but the leaves removed, the message was “you have everything to fear.” If the young lady kept the rosebud and placed it in her hair, it meant “caution.” If she placed it over her heart, the message was clearly “love.” The Victorians took the language of flowers a bit further and actually began attributing personalities to various flowers, as Thomas Hood exemplified:
The cowslip is a country wench,
The violet is a nun;-
But I will woo the dainty rose
The queen of everyone.

During the last part of the nineteenth century, several floral dictionaries were published. Among these was The Poetical Language of Flowers {1847}, The Language and Sentiments of Flowers {1857}, The Floral Telegraph {1874}, and Kate Greenway’s The Language of Flowers, first published in 1884 and republished in 1978. Because more than one dictionary existed, the possibility of error was great. One of these floral misinterpretations was famous by Louisa Anne Twamley in her poem “Carnations and Cavaliers.” The poem describes how a knight gave his lady a pink rose, meaning our love is perfect happiness. His lady either did not know about the language of flowers or did not care, for she sent back to him a carnation, which means refusal. The result was the tragedy: the lovers died for each other’s love.

It was during the Victorian period that tussie-mussies became popular. A  tussie-mussie is a small bouquet of fresh or dried flowers, usually surrounded by lacy doilies and satin ribbons. Tussie-mussies were popular, in part, for the very practical purpose of warding off bad smells and disease. Some of the most useful flowers for this purpose included lavender, rosemary, and thyme. Tussie-mussies made marvelous gifts then, and they still do. They are easy to make, and, accompanied by a card explaining the meanings of the flowers used, make a uniquely personal present. Tussie-mussies can be made from either fresh or dried flower. Choose a relatively large, perfect blossom for the center flower. A perfectly formed rose blossom is wonderful for this. Surround this with smaller blossoms and ferns and put the stems through a doily or starched lace. If using fresh flowers, wrap the stems with damp paper towels and then cover them with plastic wrap or foil held in place with florist tape. If using dried flowers, simply wrap the stems with florist tape. Fresh flowers that are good to use in tussie-mussies include rose, baby’s breath, cornflower, phlox, aster, and carnation. Suitable dried flowers include strawflower, statice, honesty, ageratum, and sedum.

Flowers and Their Meaning … […]

 

Read the entire article at its Source: The Victorian Language of Flowers – Good Witches Homestead

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