Flower Power: What Your Bouquet Is Saying

There's an old Chinese proverb that says flowers leave some of their fragrance in the hand that bestows them. For centuries, people have believed that certain flowers, and even flower colors, have specific meanings and messages. In the 18th century, in particular, there was tremendous interest in the language of love associated with flowers. Lovers used flowers to exchange secret messages and express their emotions. While an aster was an open declaration of love, a gardenia was a symbol of secret love.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," said Juliet to Romeo in act 2, scene 2 of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. That may be true, but those considering giving flowers definitely want to be clear on the meaning of the specific rose they are offering. While the white rose signifies the sentiment, "I am worthy of you" or purity, the deep-red rose signifies deep love, and the orange rose passionate love.

One might think that daisies, so pleasant to look at, simply mean joy or happiness. In fact, field daisies mean the person presenting the flowers is avoiding giving a definite answer or decision in order to buy time. Michaelmas daisies mean farewell, as in "Do not write or speak to me" or "I can never love you." Moon daisies say, "Choose a lover of your own age!" while ox-eye daisies represent hope ("I might learn to love you").

These days, it's difficult to figure out which flowers mean what. The problem is less about lack of information, and more about conflicting sources. Every list seems to say something different. But it's still worth a little investigation. After all, it would be unfortunate to give an unwanted crush gardenias, which mean, "I love you in secret."

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It has been a humbling experience being a florist in the wake of the tragic death of Diana Princess of Wales. No one could have failed to see the power of flowers at moments of great grief and emotion.

It is an historic fact that people reach for flowers when words fail them. It is a centuries old tradition inborn in us all, the most personal and emotional gift, the gift of flowers. It matters not whether it is a single bloom or a whole bouquet of flowers, the tender thought that goes into choosing the flower, and writing a personal message is the most symbolic gesture of love and respect.

Our critics may sneer, they see only the professional face of a florist, but many are the tears shed in the privacy of our workroom in the face of overwhelming grief.

My personal thanks go in particular to the London Interflora florist who gave such a professional, caring, compassionate service to our customers in such tragic circumstances.

By Lynda Owen



Photograph by Adrian Dennis
Article and photograph by kind courtesy of the Interflora Mercury


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Most of us dream at various times, some in black and white, others in full colour. Dreams are historically said to be fraught with the meaning but few understand the important of these nightly visions. If flowers appear in these dreams here are some of the interpretations given in "The Dreamer's Dictionary" by Lady Stearn Robinson and Tom Corbett (Warner Books).

Happiness and abundance are yours when asters fill your dreams. If you are gardening these bright blooms you will soon solve a mysterious puzzle.

Look for a status upgrade if you are dreaming of white carnations. Red carnations however foretell an exciting love affair, while pink ones suggest a happy home. If you are gathering carnations in your dream you can expect unusual social success.

Stop to smell the chrysanthemums in your dreams and your hopes will be fulfilled. Picking them however forecasts heightened social activity.

Dreams filled with gardenias suggest a passionate new or renewed love affair.

When seen in a dream irises predict contentment and prosperity.

Dreaming of orchids warns you to curb your extravagance or your exotic habits.

Give a rose to someone in your dreams and you will be well and truly loved. Received a rose in your dream and you will enjoy extraordinary social success. However if the rose is artificial you can expect deceit or jealousy from a trusted friend.

If you dream of sunflowers this is a warning against impulsive behaviour and portends danger in social activities. Eating sunflower seeds in a dream suggests the return of an old friend.

If you are planting tulip bulbs in your dream you are in for a minor disappointment. However if you are gathering or picking them this is a happy omen for you and those close to you.

Dreams that involve a florist can be delightful or dangerous depending of the domestic status of the person dreaming. A married or committed person can expect a serious rift following his or her dream. However a single person can look forward to a serious new romance.

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Valentine's Day was originally a Roman Festival known as the Feast of Lupercalia and was celebrated on 15th February in honour of Juno the goddess of women and marriage.

During this period young maidens made love messages which were placed in a large urn. These were then drawn out by the young men who courted the appropriate maid for the year.

Christian priests, hoping to overcome pagan Roman practices, converted the feast into celebration in honour of the martyr, St Valentine, who was imprisoned under Claudius II for his religious beliefs. His gaoler, Asterious, had a blind daughter, whose sight was restored through St Valentine's deep faith. Before he was executed on 14th February AD270, Valentine sent a note to this lady, signing the missive "From your Valentine."

This phrase now epitomises friendship, affection and sharing with others. According to legend a pink almond tree blossomed near his grave outside the Glaminian Gate in Rome. This tree has become a symbol of "abiding love."

In AD496 Pope Gelasius ordered that 14th February should be celebrated as St Valentine's Day.

The Roman ritual of drawing lots of lovers spread to England in the Middle Ages and developed even further when the girls began using the heart shaped pieces of paper which were drawn out of a jar and pinned to the young men's sleeves. This created the expression "He wears his heart on his sleeve."

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Jane, an attractive 19-year-old girl from Illinois, USA, had been in love with a boy named Tom. She asked her father’s permission to marry him. Her father was, however, not sure if she was genuinely in love. In order to prove that, he asked her to go on a world tour for six months. But during that period both of them were neither talk on phone nor write to each other. If after six months they still felt the same way, they could go ahead and marry.

Tom and Jane agreed to the condition. Jane left America for England with her aunt.

Tom was in a dilemma and discussed his problem with a florist friend. They cooked up a scheme after taking into account which flowers would be available in the cities at the time Jane would arrive there.

On her arrival in London, a lovely bouquet, of irises was presented to her by a florist. In Paris, she was greeted with a bouquet of lilies. It was a bunch of orchids in Rome. She received her final bouquet of mimosa in Honolulu shortly before returning home.

Jane took a note of the flowers she received since her tour began: irises, lilies, orchids, violets, evening primrose, jonquils, asters, narcissi, eucharis lilies, tulips, orchids, mimosa. It took her a couple of minutes to decipher the message. The initial letter from each flower gave her that assuring message: I LOVE JANE – TOM.

She went to a florist in Honolulu and a few hours later a sable was delivered to a florist in Evanston and there went a bouquet of orange blossoms to Tom which signified only one thing – Marriage.

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An email from UK was received at Headquarters as follows:-

Good day, the power of technology has just allowed me, a British citizen, resident in Germany and currently in Austria to order some flowers for my girlfriend, currently in Hong Kong, via you in New Zealand. Apart from finding that pretty cool, I just noticed on my order that it doesn't say what colour the roses are that I just ordered. Any chance you could try to make it red? Thanks.

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As every flower lover knows, flowers have a language of their own. Every sentiment is expressed in one form or another by these fragile blooms and as a leading psychologist states...

"Flowers are a perfect replica of human life". Planting - Growth - Bloom - Withering.



ACACIA Blossom - Concealed Love, Beauty in Retirement, Chaste Love
ACORN Nordic Symbol of life & Immortality
ASTER Symbol of Love - Daintiness
AZALEA Take care of yourself for me, Temperance, Fragile Passion, Chinese Symbol of Womanhood
BACHELOR BUTTON Single Blessedness
CACTUS Endurance
CAMELLIA Admiration, Perfection, Good Luck, Gift to a Man
CAMELLIA (Pink) Longing For You
CAMELLIA (Red) You're a Flame in My Heart
CAMELLIA (White) You're Adorable
CANDYTUFT Indifference
CARNATION Fascination, Woman Love
CARNATION (Pink) I'll Never Forget You
CARNATION (Red) My Heart Aches For You, Admiration
CARNATION (Purple) Capriciousness
CARNATION (Solid Colour) Yes
CARNATION (Stripped) No - Refusal, Sorry I Can't Be With You, Wish I Could Be With You
CARNATION (White) Sweet & Lovely, Innocence, Pure Love, Woman's Good Luck Gift
CARNATION (Yellow) You Have Disappointed Me, Rejection
CATTAIL Peace, Prosperity
CHRYSANTHEMUM You're a Wonderful Friend, Cheerfulness & Rest
CHRYSANTHEMUM (Yellow) Slighted Love
CROCUS Cheerfulness
CYCLAMEN Resignation & Good-bye
DAFFODIL Regard - Unrequited Love, You're The Only One, The Sun is Always Shining When I'm With You
DAISY Innocence, Loyal Love, I'll Never Tell, Purity
DANDELION Faithfulness, Happiness
FERN Magic, Fascination, Confidence & Shelter
FERN (Maidenhair) Secret Bond of Love
FLAX Domestic Symbol
FORGET ME NOT True Love - Memories
GARDENIA You're Lovely, Secret Love
GARLIC Courage, Strength
GERANIUM Stupidity, Folly
GLADIOLI Give Me A Break.... I'm Really Sincere, Flower of the Gladiators
GLOXINIA Love At First Sight
HEATHER (Lavender) Admiration, Solitude
HEATHER (White) Protection, Wishes Will Come True
HOLLY Defence, Domestic Happiness
HYACINTH Games & Sports, Rashness, Flower Dedicated to Apollo
HYACINTH (Blue) Constancy
HYACINTH (Purple) I Am Sorry Please Forgive Me, Sorrow
HYACINTH (Red or Pink) Play
HYACINTH (White) Loveliness, I'll Pray For You
HYACINTH (Yellow) Jealousy
HYDRANGEA Thank You For Understanding, Frigidity, Heartlessness
IRIS Fleur-de-lis, Emblem of France, Your Friendship Means So Much To Me, Faith, Hope, Wisdom & Valour, My Compliments
IVY Wedded Love, Fidelity, Friendship, Affection
IVY (Sprig of White Tendrils) Anxious To Please, Affection
JONQUIL Love Me, Affection Returned, Desire, Sympathy, Desire For Affection Returned
LARKSPUR (Pink) Fickleness
LILY (Orange) Hatred
LILY (White) Virginity, Purity, Majesty, It's Heavenly To Be With You
LILY (Yellow) I'm Walking On Air, False & Gay
LILY (Calla) Beauty
LILY (Day) Coquetry, Chinese Emblem For Mother
LILY (Eucharis) Maiden Charms
LILY (Tiger) Wealth, Pride
LILY OF THE VALLEY Sweetness, Tears of the Virgin Mary, Return to Happiness, Humility, You've Made My Life Complete
MARIGOLD Cruelty, Grief, Jealousy
MISTLETOE Kiss Me, Affection, To Surmount Difficulties, Sacred Plant of India, Magic Plan of The Druids
MOSS Maternal Love, Charity
MYRTLE Love, Hebrew Emblem of Marriage
NARCISSUS Egotism, Formality, Stay As Sweet As You Are
NASTURTIUM Conquest, Victory in Battle
NUTS Stupidity
ORANGE BLOSSOM Innocence, Eternal Love, Marriage and Fruitfulness
ORCHID Love, Beauty, Refinement, Beautiful Lady, Chinese Symbol For Many Children
ORCHID (Cattleya) Mature Charm
PALM LEAVES Victory and Success
PEONY Shame, Gay Life, Happy Marriage
PETUNIA Resentment, Anger, Your Presence Soothes Me
PINE Hope, Pity
POPPY Eternal Sleep, Oblivion, Imagination
POPPY (Red) Pleasure
POPPY (White) Consolation (Poppy is the floral sign of Consolation probably because it was created by "Ceres" while in search of her Daughter, Prosperpine, to Assuage her Grief)
POPPY (Yellow) Wealth, Success
PRIMROSE Can't Live Without You
PRIMROSE (Evening) Inconstancy
ROSE (Bridal) Happy Love
ROSE (Christmas) Tranquillise My Anxiety, Anxiety
ROSE (Damask) Persian Ambassador of Love
ROSE (Dark Crimson) Mourning
ROSE (Hibiscus) Delicate Beauty
ROSE (Leaf) You May Hope
ROSE (Pink) Perfect Happiness, Please Believe Me
ROSE (Red) Love, I Love You
ROSE (Tea) I'll Remember - Always
ROSE (Thornless) Love At First Sight
ROSE (White) Innocence and Purity, I Am Worthy of You, You're Heavenly, Secrecy and Silence
ROSE (White & Red) Unity, White on red together, Flower Emblem of England
ROSE (Yellow) Decrease Of Love, Jealousy, Try To Care
ROSEBUD Beauty and Youth, A Heart Innocent Of Love
ROSEBUD (Red) Pure and Lovely
ROSEBUD (White) Girlhood
ROSEBUD (Moss) Confessions of Love
ROSES (Bouquet of Full Bloom) Gratitude
ROSE (Single Full Bloom) I Love You, I Still Love You
ROSES (Garland or Crown Of) Beware of Virtue, Reward of Merit, Crown - Symbol of Superior Merit
ROSE (Musk Cluster) Charming
SNAPDRAGON Deception, Gracious Lady
STEPHANOTIS Happiness in Marriage, Desire To Travel
STOCK Bonds of Affection, Promptness, You'll Always Be Beautiful To Me
SWEETPEA Good-bye, Departure, Blissful Pleasure, Thank You For A Lovely Time
TULIP Perfect Love, Fame, Flower Emblem of Holland
TULIP (RED) Believe Me, Declaration of Love
TULIP (Variegated) Beautiful Eyes
TULIP (Yellow) There's Sunshine In Your Smile
VIOLET Modesty
VIOLET (BLUE) Watchfulness, Faithfulness, I'll Always Be True
VIOLET (White) Let's Take A Chance On Happiness
ZINNIA (Magenta) Lasting Affection
ZINNIA (Mixed) Thinking (or in Memory) of an absent friend
ZINNIA (Scarlet) Constancy
ZINNIA (White) Goodness
ZINNIA (Yellow) Daily Remembrance

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January Garnet Aster
February Amethyst Petunia
March Aquamarine Zinnia
April Diamond Stock
May Emerald Chrysanthemum
June Pearl Pansy
July Ruby Poinsettia
August Peridot Iceland Poppy
September Blue Sapphire Carnation
October Opal Rose
November Topaz Gladiolus
December Turquoise Hydrangea

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Often regarded as an unlucky flower.
(white) Purity
(yellow)Falsehood or gaiety


A petal in the palm hit with the fist should make a snapping sound if your love is faithful
(red) Consolation
(scarlet) Fantastic extravagance


Dedicated to love, the normal meaning is love.
(red rosebud) Pure and lovely
(yellow) Jealousy


Emblem of the sun, it means haughtiness.


Symbolizes the heart burning like a flame.
(red) Declaration of love
(yellow) Hopeless love


Ancient tradition, suggest the flower sprang from the graves of lovers and once it meant ‘alas, for my poor heart’. More recently, however, it has become a

Christian Symbol of betrothal, marriage and eternal love.


(red) I love
(yellow) Slighted love '
(white) Truth


(michaelmas daisy) It symbolizes afterthought was once laid on the graves of war dead in France.

Its small blue flowers indicated true love.

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"Better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all." -- Saint Augustine.

"Where there is Love, there is Life" -- K. Gandhi.

"There is only one happiness in life - to Love and be Loved" -- George Sand.

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