- Author: Lanie Keystone
Every era has its own style and customs regarding flowers, plantings and garden design. Since the second season of the beautifully rendered PBS series, “Victoria”, has concluded, it got me thinking about the special way that period viewed flowers and their meanings.
In Victorian times, flowers adorned everything—from wallpaper and Valentine cards to delightful bonnets and young girls' samplers. So it isn't surprising that the genteel folks of that period would create an elaborate way of communicating using flowers as their symbols.
The origin of floral language pre-dates Victorian times as flowers have always had a religious, mythological or symbolic meaning. The very first “flower dictionary” was written in 1818 in Paris by Mme. Charlotte de la Tour. Inspired by that, a Victorian lady, Miss Corruthers of Inverness, wrote an entire book on the subject in 1879. It was that book that became the standard source for flower symbolism both in England and the United States.
Within the boundaries of strict etiquette, Victorian women elaborated on “floriography”, (assigning of meanings to flowers.) Thus, flowers gave them a silent language that allowed them to communicate many sentiments that the propriety of the times wouldn't normally allow. In addition to visuals of flowers, anything that carried the scent of a particular bloom—perhaps on a handkerchief, carried the same message.
The symbolism of flowers is truly a language unto itself.
Match the flower with the meaning and see how readily you can time-travel back to Victorian times and communicate your sentiments!
- Azalea a. Consistency
- Columbine b. Domestic Virtue
- Periwinkle c. Temperance
- Primrose d. Faithfulness
- Quince e. Folly
- Lily f. Temptation
- Violet g. Friendship
- Sage h. Purity
ANSWERS: 1-c; 2-e; 3-g; 4-a; 5-f; 6-h; 7-d; 8-b