The Language of Flowers: Bouquets with a Story

These are the lilacs at my head table.

These are the lilacs and carnations at my head table.  The meaning stated here is ‘new divine love’.

Whether it be a budding, new relationship bouquet of clemantis, rose, and dill, or a get-out-of-the-doghouse one of narcissus and daisy; flowers speak a language of their own.

Lady Mary Wortley Montague, wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople, introduced the language of flowers [floriography] to the European aristrocrats during the early 18th century. Symbolic meanings were attached to flowers, and by arranging them in a bouquet or ‘tussie-mussie’, a message was conveyed.   “Le Language des Fleurs” by Madame Charlotte de la Tour (Louise Cortambert), was the first book written on floriography and is still a great reference. Classes are also available that include floral arrangement and floriography at the College of Lake County.

If the meaning wasn’t a secret, cards attached to the arrangement translated the message.

Below is a guide to some popular flower varieties, but be aware that interpretations often change from place to place. Go here for a more complete list of flower meanings.

Azalea = Temperance

Basil = Love / Hate

Camellia = Excellence

Carnation = Divine love

Chrysanthemum = Longevity

Clematis = Mental Beauty

Dahlia = Instability

Daisy = Innocence

Dill = Irresistiblility

Forget-me-not = Rememberance


Gardenia = Ecstasy!

Geranium = Meloncholy

Gladiolus = Generosity

Iris = Good News

Hydrangea = Boastfulness

Jasmine = Seperation

Lavender = Distrust

Lilac = New love

Lily = Majesty

Marigold = Grief

Mock Orange = Deception

Narcissus = Egotism

Orange Blossom = Chastity

Pansy = Fond Memories

Parsley = Festivity

Rose [red] = Love / Beauty

Rose [pink] = Happiness / Joy

Rose [yellow] = Infidelity / Friendship

Rose [white] =Purity / Silence

Rosemary = Rememberance

Sweet William = Gallantry

Thyme = Courage

2 thoughts on “The Language of Flowers: Bouquets with a Story

  1. This is fun. I have always liked lilacs. Never knew that marigold was grief. I’m going to check out your links 🙂


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