This Valentine’s day, should you send a rose of crimson, or one of white, to the one you love? Since antiquity, flowers have expressed feelings and emotions in a language all their own. 

The language of flowers, often referred to as floriography, was commonly used as a form of communication in the Victorian era. Bouquets of flowers were assembled, according to their floral language, to send encoded messages. This form of communication allowed individuals to express feelings often unable to be spoken. During this era, various flower dictionaries were published to spread the knowledge of the secret flower language. Virtually any message could be conveyed in a flower bouquet. A whole sentence could be spoken in literally a single flower.

Scents, sizes and the positioning of the presenter of the bouquet would also affect the sentiment. For instance, the flower recipient could convey an instant message, back to the giver, by how they accepted the bouquet.

A bouquet accepted in the right hand was generally accepted as a “Yes”, while a bouquet accepted with the left had would was understood as a “No”.

A flower held upside down would literally mean the opposite to the normal meaning of the flower. If a red rose was given, turned upside down, it was a very strong sign of rejection.

In a language that has blossomed through the ages, many of the sentiments found in the various colours and varieties of fresh flowers are still referenced today.

The next time you give flowers, take a moment to explore the language found in nature’s most beautiful gifts. For a family project, cut and paste pictures of flowers from magazines, and create cards for loved ones, using the language of floriography.

Whether you choose a bouquet of red roses to declare your truest love, or combine purple roses with acacia to convey your secrecy in love at first sight, have fun creating your own bouquets filled with symbolic sentiment.