The Language of Flowers

The "Language of Flowers" is a concept from the Victorian period, when societal rules were strict and people couldn't express everything they wanted out loud. It became popular to communicate one's true feelings through flowers, using a very specific code. A Victorian family might have a reference book, like the one below, where you could "decode" the bouquet you were just delivered.

Not all these messages were positive, and they could be extremely dramatic and specific! For instance, handing someone a sprig of tansy meant "I declare against you." A red rose meant love, but a yellow rose indicated a decrease in love. With hundreds of flowers constituting this code, having a book like this was important to avoid sending the wrong message.

Some of these symbols they collected originated thousands of years ago, and I've made a project of exploring the fascinating history of botanical symbols while I render them in silver. If you want to explore alongside me, follow me at @affinityfloralarts on Instagram and Tiktok!

The book pictured above is my antique flower dictionary from 1857, once owned by a real Victorian family. It's one of my main references, and since it's public domain, you can view it too! Below is a link to an online scanned version where you can look up your favorite flowers and see what they meant.

The Language of Flowers: an Alphabet of Floral Emblems