Post by Joanna on Jun 11, 2015 16:37:00 GMT -5
The Language of Flowers, Trees and Herbs
People have long used specific flora to convey secret messages and allowed nature to do their bidding. Now we have Hallmark and emoji, but there was a time when people borrowed from the plant world to express themselves. While using flowers to convey one's feelings was common in Persia and the Middle East, in Europe and America, the practice really came to fruition during the Victorian era. And is it any wonder? Those chaste Victorians weren't the most flirtatious bunch, so why not say it with flowers? And beyond bashful courting, there was an appreciation of botany that western culture seems to have lost. We order a dozen red roses for our sweetheart because it's the thing to do; but how lovely was the intention of stringing together a missive with flowers and herbs – an ode to love created by things that sprout from the earth? Known as floriography, flowers were sent to reveal secret sentiments of love and affection – but flowers meant to woo could be arranged differently to impart a negative message instead. Just as the 19th century brought about complicated social customs, so was the language of flowers. It was so complex, in fact, that entire dictionaries were devoted to decoding the delicate disclosures.
Floriography entered the European imagination as early as 1809 with the publication of Joseph Hammer-Pugstall's list, Dictionnaire du language des fleurs. The first mainstream dictionary of floriography, La langage des Fleurs, was published in 1819 by Louise Cortambert (under the pen name Madame Charlotte de la Tour). Afterwards, the 19th century saw a flood of similar publications of which symbolic definitions were often dissimilar. By some accounts, as floriography spread to the United States and beyond, hundreds of different "language of flowers" dictionaries were published. Given there were so many interpretations, it can be tricky to know exactly what was supposed to mean what. With this in mind, we've borrowed from The Old Farmer's Almanac for our list. If you can't trust America's oldest continuously published periodical, what can you trust? And if you're looking to resume the lost art of floriography, you certainly wouldn't want to send your sweetheart, say, lemon balm for sympathy when what you really meant was heliotrope for true love ....
Aloe: Healing, protection, affection; Angelica: Inspiration; Arborvitae: Unchanging friendship; Bachelor's button: Single blessedness; Basil: Good wishes; Bay: Glory; Black-eyed Susan: Justice; Carnation: Alas for my poor heart; Chamomile: Patience; Chives: Usefulness; Chrysanthemum: Cheerfulness; Clover, white: Think of me; Coriander: Hidden worth; Cumin: Fidelity; Crocus: Youthful gladness, Daffodil: Regard, Daisy: Innocence, hope, Dill: Powerful against evil, Edelweiss: Courage, devotion, Fennel: Flattery, Fern: Sincerity, Forget-me-not: Forget-me-not, Geranium, oak-leaved: True friendship; Goldenrod: Encouragement; Heliotrope: Eternal love; Holly: Hope; Hollyhock: Ambition; Honeysuckle: Bonds of love; Horehound: Health; Hyacinth: Constancy of love, fertility; Hyssop: Sacrifice, cleanliness; Iris: A message; Ivy: Friendship, continuity; Jasmine, white: Sweet love; Lady's-mantle: Comfort; Lavender: Devotion, virtue; Oak: Strength; Oregano: Substance; Pansy: Thoughts; Parsley: Festivity; Pine: Humility; Poppy, red: Consolation; Rose, red: Love, desire; Rosemary: Remembrance; Rue: Grace, clear vision; Sage: Wisdom, immortality; Salvia, blue: I think of you; Salvia, red: Forever mine; Savory: Spice, interest; Sorrel: Affection; Southernwood: Constancy, jest; Sweetpea: Pleasures; Sweet William: Gallantry; Sweet woodruff: Humility; Tansy: Hostile thoughts; Tarragon: Lasting interest; Thyme: Courage, strength; Tulip, red: Declaration of love; Valerian: Readiness; Violet: Loyalty, devotion, faithfulness; Willow: Sadness; Yarrow: Everlasting love; and Zinnia: Thoughts of absent friends.
Source: Melissa Breyer, Tree Hugger.