Flower Talk

“Flower Talk,” Friend, May 1986, 8


Flower Talk

Did you know that flowers can talk to and for us? No, they don’t make sounds, but they do communicate through symbolism. A red rose, for example, is the flower symbol for love. By contrast, a yellow rose represents jealousy.

Once called “florigraphy,” flower language was much more popular in past centuries than it is today. In ancient times, apparently, Chinese and Japanese officials let flowers do the talking in certain meetings by arranging flowers and herbs to say what they didn’t want to say in words. A bouquet of violets carried a message of loyalty, while an arrangement of tansy meant that war was being declared.

In old England, on the other hand, if a man wanted to send a message to a lady, he might send her a tuzzy-muzzy, which was a bouquet of blossoms and herbs in lacy paper and colorful ribbons. A tuzzy-muzzy might consist of red roses (love), mint (virtue), and clematis (beauty of mind)—or yellow roses (jealousy) and lavender (distrust).

Today flower language is not often spoken, but you can still wish someone happiness with lilies-of-the-valley. And pansies are a fine way to say “I’m thinking of you.” You might even find acacias to give a special friend. Wouldn’t it be nice if all our bouquets contained lots of lilies-of-the-valley, acacias, mint, sage, and red roses?

Illustrated by Shauna Mooney