The Secret Language of Flowers
"Pink Roses stand for beauty..."
Some of my most cherished antique books are those devoted to the secret language of flowers. It's always been fascinating to think your little floral gifts could carry with them an added meaning. Above are an example of two of my books, The Floral Forget Me Not from 1854 and The Language of Flowers Birthday Gems from the old publishing house Ward, Lock & Co. Limited.
"...Yes, flowers have their own language. Theirs is an oratory, that speaks in perfume silence, and there is tenderness, and passion, and even a light-heartedness of mirth in the variegated beauty of their vocabulary." —The Floral Forget Me Not
"A pansy stands for Entertainment & Feasting. A Sweet Pea, Delicate pleasure..."
"Water lilies stand for Eloquence..."
Many romantic explanations have arisen from these Victorian books but it's pretty clear to collectors that these are decadent gift books and not necessarily put to any real use. Mine for example has a sweet, faint note on the title page, "from your affectionate cousin Elizabeth", perhaps showing a birthday gift destine to sit on a bedside table. Lovingly flipped through and bringing delicious dreams. In addition each book seems to have its own set of meanings so one would have to be rather synchronized to get the message across. Still, they seem truly relevant today and pretty exciting to find.
For more here is a short film I made on the Secret Language of Flowers:
Included are flower meanings gleaned from, The Floral Forget Me Not a gift for all seasons flower dictionary from 1854, Modern Alchemy Timeless perfume, and a D.L. & Co. Golden Poppy candle.