Good day, Bookworms! I am over the moon because I recently got a call inviting my house to be included on our neighborhood garden tour. I must credit my husband, for he does the bulk of the watering, but I pick out the plants and play in the dirt and put all the containers together, so it’s a team effort.
I’m sure you know me, because strangers don’t ACTUALLY read my blog, but on the off chance you don’t know me, I love flowers. Love might be an understatement. It’s more of an obsession, really. I had the greatest job right after high school and on college breaks working in a flower shop. I used to pester the florists (I mostly swept, answered phones, and washed buckets as I have no artistic skill) to tell me what all the different types of flowers were. I learned there’s a vast difference between garden flowers and professional cut flowers. I learned how to keep house plants alive. I learned that sometimes you get weird calls from people asking for “Pants corsages”.
In honor of my obsession with flowers, I wanted to do a post on The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This book combined two of my favorite things ever: a good story and flowers. What’s not to love?
Our heroine is an aged-out-of-the-system foster child named Victoria. She is emotionally broken, but during her one encounter with a stable home life, she became entranced by flowers. Her foster mother believed in the Victorian Language of Flowers, which was a way young lovers passed messages during the notoriously stuffy Victorian period. We used to get frustrated at the flower shop when people would ask us about what the meanings of flowers were, but it was nearly impossible to give a definitive answers. Look at 5 different resources and you’ll find 5 different answers. However, Elizabeth, the foster mother in question had a very specific version of her language. She went so far as to say there was only one meaning for each flower, otherwise people would get confused.
Can’t you imagine the confusion though? You’re a Jane Austen-esque heroine pining away in the house doing needlepoint when flowers arrive for you from your beloved. Romeo may have had it in his head that red roses signify passion, whereas your personal dictionary says that red roses signify mourning. Or chastity. Or “I no longer love you, I love your chamber maid.” Or something. It’s really a very problematic system, but I digress.
Flowers are the one constant in Victoria’s tumultuous existence. After she turns 18 and is out on her own, we begin to see her blossom (pun completely intended) through her job at a flower shop. Victoria eventually begins to attract her own clientele who are interested in obtaining floral arrangements for their meaning more than their looks. She begins a relationship and starts to pull her life together… and chaos ensues. I don’t want to reveal too many spoilers, so suffice it to say this book is DEFINITELY worth the read. It’s totally chic lit though, so guys might want to sit this one out. Unless you really dig books on flowers and relationships. Then, by all means!
I thought it would be fun to dissect my wedding bouquet according to Victoria’s flower dictionary to see what sort of good or ill tidings I carried into my marriage.
White Lisianthus: Appreciation (That’s pretty good right? Appreciating one another is important in a marriage, no? Also appreciating wine! And appreciating tasteful batman statues…)
White Freesia: Lasting Friendship (Things are looking good for us right now, I’m ready to cut my losses and not look any further…)
Queen Anne’s Lace: Fantasy (Um… I’m not sure how to take that. Either our relationship is so awesome it’s like a fantasy, or we’re in denial and living in a fantasy world. I’m choosing the former.)
Green Hypericum Berries: Superstition. (Hypericum is also known as St. John’s Wort, and I hardly think anti depressants could be BAD for a marriage. But, if you consider paranoia and superstition in the same ballpark, that’s totally us already. We’re neurotic. In the cutest possible way.)
Pittosporum: This is just greenery, it isn’t a flower, and as such isn’t in Victoria’s dictionary. She lists other non flowery things (like friggin pomegranates. Who puts a pomegranate in a floral arrangement? It’s not even an attractive fruit!) , but I guess pittosporum is unpopular amongst the Victorians. I’m going to pretend that pittosporum’s dictionary definition is “I love you in spite of your bizarre habits.” Because, let’s face it, that’s critical to any relationship.
So my bookworms, what sentiments would you want spelled out in your wedding bouquet? Or boutonniere? Or your prom corsage? Flowers, meanings. Talk about it!