"Artist's Garden in Giverny," Claude Monet

Yesterday was the first day of spring, and the daffodils are starting to come up!  My favorite part about spring is the beautiful blooms on the ground and in the trees. The Victorians also had a strong appreciation for flowers and assigned to them various meanings.  You may have heard the standard ones, particularly for roses – a red rose is for romantic love, a yellow rose is for friendship, white is for purity – but apparently there was a whole secret language encoded in flowers that the Victorians developed.  This was called floriography, and it wasn’t an exact science.  Victorians had books that could translate the secret messages encoded in flowers, but these were not necessarily standardized so using two different dictionaries might lead to very different interpretations.  A couple of websites that have pretty extensive lists of flowers and their meanings are here and here.  Interestingly, these two lists often disagree.  I’m not sure this practice deserves a “-ography” on the end of it when there is so little consistency.  In fact, the more I look, the more I see that there aren’t many flowers these lists DO agree on.  This is a TERRIBLE secret code!

One list gives geraniums the meaning of “true friend”, but also “folly” and “stupidity.”  So that message is, “I’m stupid to have considered you a true friend?”

Or what about Lavender – one list has, “devotion” and the other has “distrust.”  Talk about sending mixed messages – what the heck?

Snapdragon represents either “presumptuousness” or “graciousness and strength.”  This system makes no sense.

Well, I started this post not realizing how arbitrary this process is.  And we think it’s hard to decipher what the opposite sex is thinking these days!  “Hmm, does this bouquet mean he thinks I’m sweet and lovely or smelly and judgmental?”  If you are still interested, here are some spring flowers and their “meanings.”  I have also included my personal suggestions for alternative meanings.  I think the lesson here is just send a note.

Hyacinth – Sincerity, or Boredom


Daffodil – Chivalry, or Bad Breath


Tulip (Pink) – Caring, or “That dress makes your hips look wide.”

pink tulip

Lilac – “First Love,” or “Please put your shoes back on.”


Crocus – Cheerfulness, Gladness, or “You had something in your teeth last night at dinner, but I didn’t want to say anything.”


Freesia – “Spirited,” or “Restraining Order”


My personal fave, Gladiolus – Generosity or Strength of Character


And for Heather, Heather (Lavender) – Solitude