Monday 2 May 2011


Meanings can be built in to the
smallest things - and flowers ;)
I have been giving a lot of thought to the details that make a narrative special and unique. One thing could be a secret-something that bonds the characters and the readers but excludes anyone who does not share the knowledge.
I love everything that flowers but I am conflicted: May, when flowers grow in abundance, is the month when my hay fever changes from eye irritation to sinus pressure and partial hearing loss.
Detailing a hyper hay fevered character would be one way to go – as the condition is gross enough to describe graphically (gorifically ;)  but not so horrible that all empathy would be lost.
In Victorian times flowers were given specific meanings. Most people knew this. They could translate the meaning and gain a deeper understanding of the emotions of the person who sent the bouquet.
Gary Gamber on the Dundee Messenger blog posted this list entitled Selected Flower Meanings.
It is the most clear and concise dictionary I could find.
Almond flowers -- Hope
Anemone -- Forsaken
Aster -- Symbol of love
Balm -- Sympathy
Basil -- Best wishes
Bay leaf -- "I change but in death"
Bell flower, white -- Gratitude
Bergamot -- Irresistible
Bluebell -- Constancy
Borage -- Courage 
Broom -- Humility
Campanula -- Gratitude
Carnation, pink -- I'll never forget you
Carnation, red -- My poor heart aches for you
Carnation, striped -- Refusal
China rose -- Beauty always new 
Chrysanthemum -- Love
Clover, four leaved -- "Be mine"
Coreopsis -- Love at first sight
Cuckoo pint -- Ardour
Daffodil -- Regard
Daisy -- Innocence, new-born, "I share your sentiment"
Fennel -- Flattery
Fern -- Sincerity
Forget-Me-Not -- True love
Furze or Gorse -- Enduring affection
French Marigold -- Jealousy
Gardenia -- Ecstasy
Gentian -- Loveliness
Geranium -- "You are childish"
Hare bell -- Grief
Heartsease -- "I am always thinking of you"
Honeysuckle -- Bonds of love
Heather -- Admiration
Hyacinth -- I am sorry, Please forgive me
Ice Plant -- "Your appearance freezes me"
Ivy -- Fidelity, friendship, marriage
Jasmine -- Grace
Jonquil -- "I hope for return of affection"
Lavender -- Luck, devotion
Lemon Balm -- Sympathy
Lilac -- First love
Lily -- Purity, modesty
Lily of the Valley -- Purity, the return of happiness
Lily, Calla -- Beauty
Marigold -- Health, grief or despair
Marjoram -- Kindness, courtesy
Myrtle -- Fidelity
Oregano -- Joy
Orchid -- Love, beauty, refinement
Pansy -- Loving thoughts
Periwinkle -- Happy memory
Phlox -- Agreement
Poppy, red -- Consolation
Primrose -- I can't live without you
Rose, cabbage -- Ambassador of love
Rose, red -- Love
Rose, pink -- Grace, beauty
Rose, yellow -- Friendship
Rosemary -- Remembrance, constancy
Rue -- Contrition
Sage -- Gratitude, domestic virtue
Snowdrop -- Hope
Star of Bethlehem -- Purity
Sweet Pea -- Departure, tender memory
Sweet William -- Gallantry
Tuberose -- Voluptuousness
Tulip, red -- My perfect lover, Reclamation of love
Violet -- Loyalty, modesty, humility
Violet, blue -- Faithfulness
Wormwood -- Grief
Wheat -- Riches of the continuation of life
Willow, weeping -- Mourning
Wallflower -- Fidelity
Yew – Sorrow
The characters could even have a blooming argument ;) 
I counter your French Marigold with a Geranium! 
If this is the list as Victorians understood it imagine the undertones that could be added – along with the aromas – for characters in a romance, mystery or adventure story.
Lapel flowers or bouquets in times past, flowers graffiti-ed on walls for a more contemporary feel.
The meanings do not have to match the Victorian dictionary, they could represent any information as long as both sides, and the reader, understand the code.

I’m hiding out from the DIY enthusiast downstairs but my time is running out. I’ve been assigned to the back of our house with a huge pot of cream paint – if it was a cream tea or a pint I’d be a happy bunny ;). With only the single storey extension completed, I’m not looking forward to the point when I need a bigger ladder.
This May, what are you looking forward to? Or not?


  1. Ugh! Hide a bit longer, there is nothing worse than painting!

  2. Hi Al
    No one escapes their destiny ;) Painting around every stone on pebble-dash walls is a form of torture.