The Language of Love

By Lavender January 31, 2008

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Valentine’s Day Section

Mon Amour brûle pour vous avec la passion de mille soleils. The French perhaps can make you swoon with mere words, but for the average American on this Valentine’s Day, show your love with the knowledge of flowers.

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

For centuries, the flower has been the plant of love. The smell can evoke memories of yesteryears; forgotten trysts in the summer nights; and memories of such passionate nights that for many, it’s no longer the flower that they love, but the memory a particular flower can give over a lifetime. Ask, and many will tell you what their favorite flower is without hesitation. Ask them why, and watch them blush, as the memory engulfs their body and senses. Ah, the power of the flower! But where does this power come from—where does it gain its origins?

Through the ages, flowers and herbs have been given high regard—many even were believed to have magical powers to heal or invoke love. These beliefs gave them the place of honor in the royal floral gardens that lasted well into the Victorian era, when the flower garnished more power—a power of meaning. Have you received a floral pattern anything? Blame it on this time period. Flowers were found everywhere—on clothing, china, vases, in hair…everywhere. So popular was the meaning of flowers that it even had a language of its own, known as “floriography.”

Have you ever been to shy to say what you mean? Unable to convey the words your heart desires? Your heart beats so fast, you fear someone will hear it? Your pulse quickens, your palms become sweaty, and you suddenly lose the ability to walk without tripping over your feet? The flower is able to convey that silent, unspoken beat of your heart. The rose. The flower of love. The best-known way to say “I love you” without saying it. Give a single red rose in full bloom, and say you truly love him or her, or add in a coral rose, and show your desire.

Peter Haas and Jill West of Minneapolis Floral believe that “it all depends on the person you are buying for. A lot of people really appreciate something personalized and different. On the other hand, a lot of people still prefer the traditional dozen roses. If you are go to go this route, maybe try a color other than red.”

However, be careful in your color choice. Many still know the meaning of color, at least when it comes to the rose. Yellow still carries deep meaning of friendship, not love. Red in almost any flower means love. It’s passion. Desire. Pleasure. Admiration. Carnation. Camellia. Catchfly. Chrysanthemum. Poppy.

For the gay in us, there’s even one to show that love. This spring, when everything is in bloom, take your loved one into a field on grass, and just admire it—for grass is the “flower” of same-sex love.

Minneapolis Floral advises picking out a flower and color based on the person—“if they are a more traditional or funky personality.” But it does suggest that you should get some help when picking flowers, saying you should avoid “soft blooms, transparent petals, yellow or crunchy foliage on the stems.”

Not every flower needs to say “I love you.” Sometimes, a flower needs to say more than words. Sometimes, when words have fallen on deaf ears, a simple loving gift can show what your words have failed to. A purple hyacinth can convey your sorrow and ask for forgiveness better then an expensive gift of jewelry.

Still unable to select just the right flower, or unable to transmit your meaning through the flower? Minneapolis Floral feels that “color meanings seem outdated,” and suggests “choosing flowers based on freshness, color, style, etc.”

Florists are able to help. It is why they are there. Many advise actually talking to them to assist you in figuring out exactly what you want to say with your flowers. Even if the classic meaning is not there, a beautiful arrangement of flowers can say so much. From the gift of a single thornless red rose (love at first sight) to a bouquet of exotic flowers conveying every emotion, it can mean more than even the meanings themselves. Sometimes, the simple gesture of just giving flowers can make your loved one’s heart beat till he or she feels it will just burst, or finally show that secret love he or she is more to you than just a friend.

Perhaps one day, though, you’ll be able to say “my love burns for you with the passion of a thousand suns” without the need of flowers or French. Until then, remember to give flowers, for they just may just carry that message for you.

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