‘The emojis of the 19th Century’

Such poignant personalisation is part of a cultural foundation we all share. The tradition of floriography has always been there, but these days is a shadow of its former self – many know that a bouquet of roses symbolises romance, for example, but few know why. We might not perceive certain stems as positive or negative as the Victorians did, but we do still know that certain blooms better suit certain occasions. An understanding of flowers’ meanings, however, can help us progress from  the simplicity of sending a bouquet based on only its beauty to tapping into a deeper and more nuanced emotional intimacy.  

“Flowers, as gifts or for special occasions, can be all the more thoughtful when using the language of flowers. This could be based on the colour, or the type of the flower, or both,” explains Harriet Parry, a florist for Bloom & Wild. “Floriography has been around for thousands of years, but we still have customers today asking for flowers that mean something special to them, either personally or through their symbolic meaning.”

How floriography influences our decisions has enabled florists, like Bloom & Wild, to make some fascinating observations. For one, they have recorded that 29% of people select their blooms based on bouquet colour, with red being the most popular choice. The colour of passion, red is universally recognised as an expression of love. Pink, however, has a myriad of meanings depending on where you live; in Thailand it’s symbolic of trust, while in Japan it’s believed to be a symbol of good health. In a single hue there’s a variety of symbolism, yet this only begins to scratch the surface of floriography.

Take the sweet pea, a summertime flower that comes in an array of colours, but whose meaning remains the same: as a token of thanks. In the Victorian era, sweet peas were the go-to gift when thanking a host for a wonderful time, a gratitude that could be expressed even further by pairing it with other stems. If paired with zinnias, a flower that signifies everlasting friendship, your bouquet would help differentiate between casual acquaintance and dear friend.

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