I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
Published January 20th 2013
Flowers, not French, are the language of love
Botanically speaking flowers are 'the seed-bearing part of a plant, consisting of reproductive organs that are typically surrounded by a brightly colored corolla and a green calyx'. Doesn't sound too romantic, does it? And yet, flowers have been the most popular symbols of romance and love for centuries, inspiring great poetry and appearing in the mythology of various cultures for centuries.
Flowers are a multi-purpose present. They are an integral part of joyous occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or the birth of a baby, and also a mark of sympathy when someone dies. We love them for their delicate and fragile beauty, their intoxicating perfumes and the riot of colourful splendour they can create. As a sign of love they really come into their own on Valentine's Day. In fact, the whole floristry industry thrives on the twin pillars of Mothers Day and Valentines Day, those occasions where it is almost expected to give flowers as a gift.
Here is some advice to help you tiptoe through the minefield of tulips (or roses or violets) so you can buy the perfect Valentine's Day flowers for your love.
The Language of Flowers
In the Victorian era flowers were a sort of secret love message, a morse code, if you like, for lovers. The choice of particular flowers meant special sentiments and feelings were being expressed. For example asters were a symbol of love and daintiness, pink camellias meant longing, yellow hyacinths stood for jealousy and jonquils, one of my particular favourites, ran the gamut of emotions from desire to sympathy. Seems that one could have landed you in hot water - talk about your mixed messages.
Pink Camellia - Longing for You. Image by A. Barra from Wikipedia.
Keeping your own circumstances in mind here are some romantic recommendations: If you want to tell your love she's beautiful try calla lilies or hibiscus. If you're seeking forgiveness go for purple hyacinths If you're smitten by love at first sight your choice should be gloxinia If your love seems unattainable send daisies as a mark of unrequited love
Some not so common choices mark beautiful sentiments, but you may need to explain what they mean. If I were you I'd go for:
• Primroses (I can't live without you) Yellow tulips (there's sunshine in your smile) Red camellias (you're a flame in my heart)
Yellow tulips - There's sunshine in your smile. Image from Morguefile.
What girl could resist those? If you're really brave try handing her a bunch of asparagus foliage, indicating fascination. And if all those wedding plans are starting to get a bit too much for you why not send spider flowers, which say "Elope with me"
Flowers to avoid
Whatever you do avoid cactus. Its meaning is endurance, and you may well need some to survive your love's potentially prickly reaction. Likewise marigoilds may bring you cruelty and grief, while mock orange is a mark of deceit and larkspur depicts fickleness.
Roses are the archetypical symbol of Valentine's Day so I think they need their own section. Of all the flowers roses are seen as the sign of romantic love, and are the time-honoured choice for Valentine's Day giving. In fact, a lot of people will be very disappointed if a dozen long-stemmed red roses are not delivered to their place of work on February 14 for all their work colleagues to coo over.
I see roses as the safe option, you probably can't really lose with them. The only problem with roses cultivated en masse for Valentines Day, is that most of them won't have that glorious, heady perfume that makes you want to bury your nose in the bouquet (mind the thorns) and drink it in. If your grandmother or a friend grows their own roses, ask for a favour. The scent of real garden roses should get you brownie points with all but the most hard-hearted femme fatale.
In floriography colour is important so remember that pink roses indicate perfect happiness, yellow roses show a decrease of love and red roses, every romantic's favourite, simply say "I love you".
What's her favourite?
The best advice I can give you is to find out what his or her favourite flowers are and buy those. If she's just wild about yellow poppies she's not going to be worried that they symbolise wealth and success rather than passionate love. On the other hand if she detests forget-me-nots she won't care that their meaning is true love.
The perfect posy
If you can't decide which of these are the perfect floral tribute to your love than mix it up alittle and cover all your bases Find a number of flowers that express your sentiments and have a florist create your own very personal bouquet of love.
Whatever you choose, above all make your gift of flowers a gift from the heart, not merely a reaction to the commercial imperative. Long live romance, roses and asparagus foliage.