Posts Tagged ‘symbolism’

Lores and legends of popular flowers

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Chances are that when you arrange a flower deliver, you rarely think about the history behind your arrangement. But our flowers in the UK have a rich past that links them to ancient times and faraway places which is worth exploring. So here are some interesting stories about some of our most popular flowers.

Although tulips may put you in mind of the Netherlands, you may be surprised to learn that tulips were first cultivated as garden flowers in Turkey at the beginning of the 16th century. In fact, the word “Tulipa” is the Latin version of the Persian word for turban. Tulip bulbs became big business as the European bulb trade took off in the 17th century. A “tulip mania” ensued where single bulbs were sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. The term “tulip mania” is now often used to refer to an economic bubble. Today the tulip is an inexpensive flower and comes in all the colours of the rainbow. Perfect if you’re looking for a flower delivery to brighten someone’s day.

Did you know that violets are closely associated with Napoleon? When he was banished to Elba, Napoleon vowed that he would return in the spring with the violets,. He thus became known as “Caporal Violette” and the violet became the emblem for all those who supported him. The question “Do you like violets?” became secret code for “Are you a supporter of Napoleon?”

The word daisy is a corruption of day’s eye from the Old English “dages eage”, so called because it is said to close its lashes to sleep when the sun sets. Superstition surrounds the flowering of the daisy and if you fail to tread lightly on the first daisy you see in the spring, daisies will grow over your grave – or that of a loved one – before the year ends. Gerberas which are part of the daisy family are the fifth most used cut flower in the world (after rose, carnation, chrysanthemum and tulip) and a very popular choice in flower deliveries.

The generic name for Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is indirectly from the Latin lavare which means “ to wash”. For many centuries the plant has been used to scent bath water and soap. Lavender was established in England by the Romans and cultivated on a large scale in London. (Lavender Hill in Battersea is a reminder of this.) But beware, superstition says that if the plant thrives in a garden, the daughter in the house will remain unwed as lavender grows only in an old maid’s garden. Perhaps not the best flowers to send to your unmarried female friend.

In ancient times, rosemary was regarded as a love oracle. If a girl wished to dream of her future husband she would place a sprig of rosemary and a sixpence under her pillow. Rosemary also played an important part in the marriage ceremony. Rosemary was included in the bridal bouquet and after the wedding, one of the bridesmaids would plant a sprig in the garden of the newlyweds which would then, in time, be used by their daughter.

Sunflowers are native to Peru and Mexico and many indigenous American people used the sunflower as the symbol of their solar deity, including the Aztecs, the Otomi of Mexico and the Incas in South America.The outline of sunflowers can be traced in the sculptures of the ancient temples. Likenesses of sunflowers were fashioned out of gold and wore by priestesses. Sunflower seeds were a fertility symbol and eaten during religious rites. Online florists report that in recent years, sunflowers have become a very popular choice.

The Symbolism of Flowers

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

When you’re giving a gift of flowers, chances are you’re simply buying a bunch of flowers that you like and that suits your budget. But you probably haven’t given much thought to the symbolic meaning of your gift. Most of us would not arrive at a funeral with a bunch of red roses but did you know if you gave someone yellow carnations you would be telling them that they disappointed you!

Here are a few common and interesting meanings to keep in mind when you buy flowers:

1. Probably the most memorable flower – the rose – has as many meanings as there are colours and species but did you know that the number of roses you give also has a special message. Three roses mean that the recipient is romantically loved while fifteen roses represent an apology.

2. Tulips generally mean perfect love but the different colours have their own meanings too. For example, purple tulips symbolise royalty and yellow tulips (as do many other yellow flowers) imply cheerfulness.

3. Daffodils could mean that you respect someone but they also symbolise unrequited love.

4. Gerberas symbolise cheerfulness and happiness. (How could they not?)

5. Chrysanthemums also symbolises cheerfulness – a good flower to say “you’re a wonderful friend.”

6. Sweet peas have a sad message: goodbye

7. Sunflowers mean loyalty so perhaps a good flower to give someone to show your support.

8. White lilies symbolise chastity and virtue, stargazer lilies express sympathy and pink stargazer lilies represent wealth and prosperity.

9. Begonias have an ominous message: beware

One could get lost in a quagmire of symbolism and perhaps it’s wise not to get too carried away. But whether you’re buying your bouquet through a flower delivery service, an online florist or in person at your favourite UK florist, spare a thought for the symbolism behind your purchase.