In the Language of Flowers, this arrangement of flower seed packets means Delight (Gaillardia and Columbine), Faithfulness (Echinacea–coneflower), Interest (Rudbeckia–Black-eyed Susan), Virtue (Mint–Bee Balm), Always cheerful (Coreopsis–Tickseed), and Petition–Please give me your answer (Penstemon). The potted fern translates as Sincerity. Photo by Barb Gorges.
Also published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle Feb. 4, 2018, and at Wyoming Network News.
Language of Flowers provides many options for Valentine sentiments
By Barb Gorges
With the florists’ largest holiday approaching, I thought we should look at getting floral messages right.
The most well-known floral message is red roses for love. But red roses also make an environmentally unfriendly statement. An article at inhabitat.com, https://inhabitat.com/100-million-roses-for-valentines-day-emit-9000-metric-tons-of-co2/, last year explained that the red rose-growing industry uses a lot of water, energy and an enormous amount of pesticides, and then more energy to get the roses from South America, where most are grown, to the U.S.
Here’s an idea: a bouquet of colorful seed packets—and the promise to help prepare a garden bed or container later when gardening season arrives. You can find seeds at:
High Country Gardens, https://www.highcountrygardens.com/wildflower-seeds;
Johnny’s Selected Seeds, http://www.johnnyseeds.com/perennial-seeds-plants; and
Botanical Interests, of Colorado, https://www.botanicalinterests.com/.
There are hundreds of kinds of flowers that have sentiments attached to them, especially by the Victorians, famous for “The Language of Flowers.” They were very fond of sending each other floral messages and apparently every home had a floral dictionary on the shelf next to the Bible.
Here are my favorite native perennials for Cheyenne and what the Language of Flowers has to say about them. Keep in mind there is often more than a single meaning for each. And yes, they do sound like the sentiments printed on candy hearts, often addressing the early stages of romance.
Columbine – Delight – I enjoy being in your company
Coneflower – Faithfulness – Fear not, I am true
Coreopsis – Always cheerful
Gaillardia – Delight – Being with you gives me great joy
Liatris (Gayfeather) – Joy – Your attention warms my heart
Mint (choose Monarda, beebalm) – Virtue
Penstemon – Petition – Please give me your answer
Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan) – Interest – I would like to talk with you more
Yarrow – Everlasting love
Mid-February is the perfect time to plant those seeds using the winter sowing technique. Plant them in semi-covered containers left outdoors. See my previous column about it at https://cheyennegardengossip.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/winter-sowing/.
Many of the most romantic sentiments may require a trip to the nursery if you can’t find seeds. Here in Cheyenne you may have to make do with an IOU accompanied by pictures from catalogs until planting season in late May.
The following definitions are from the floral dictionary included in the novel, The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.
Alyssum – Worth beyond beauty
Cactus (Opuntia) – Ardent love
Cosmos – Joy in love and life
Daylily – Coquetry
Dogwood – Love undiminished by adversity
Goldenrod – Careful encouragement
Lilac – First emotions of love
Morning glory – Coquetry
Nasturtium – Impetuous love
Pansy – Think of me
Peppermint – Warmth of feeling
Phlox – Our souls are united
Pink (Dianthus) – Pure love
Speedwell (Veronica) – Fidelity
Sweet William – Gallantry
If you want to plan for romance next spring, plant some bulbs next fall:
Crocus – Youthful gladness
Daffodil – New beginnings
Hyacinth, blue – Dedication – I shall devote my life to you
Hyacinth, white – Beauty
Jonquil – Desire
Tulip, red – Declaration of love
Vegetables, fruits and herbs can have good messages too, so you may want to include some of those seed packets:
Allium (onion) – Prosperity
Cabbage – Profit
Corn – Riches
Grapevine – Abundance
Oregano – Joy
Parsley – Festivity
Strawberry – Perfection
Wheat – Prosperity
Not all floral definitions express happy thoughts. Thistle, for example, means “Misanthropy” in one dictionary. Not surprisingly, bindweed and burdock translate as “Persistence” – most of us work hard trying to eradicate them.
But if you don’t like one definition, look for another. Peony means “Anger” in one book and “Contrition – Forgive my thoughtlessness” in another. In a third collection, peony stands for “Happy life, happy marriage.” Maybe the last two definitions are related after all.
The houseplant option recommends itself over cut roses that droop within a week, if you want something that will remind your true love of you for awhile (providing they have the palest of green thumbs):
Ivy – Fidelity
Orchid – Luxury – I shall make your life a sweet one
Maybe roses are still your best bet. Think about planting a bush that will last a long time. Rose growers in Cheyenne look to High Country Roses, http://www.highcountryroses.com/, in Colorado for hardy varieties. Each color has a meaning:
Burgundy – Unconscious beauty
Orange – Fascination
Pale peach – Modesty
Pink – Grace
Purple – Enchantment
Red – Love
White – A heart unacquainted with love
Yellow – Infidelity
Yikes! I like the old yellow climbing roses. Guess I better find a different dictionary.
Obviously, the recipient of your floral expression might be oblivious to or not speak the same floral language you do. Be sure to provide the definition you intend your flowers to speak.