The language of flowers

A Victorian-style tussie mussie

A Victorian-style tussie mussie

This week I've been learning more about the Victorian language of flowers, or floriography. Flowers have been associated with certain meanings for centuries, even back to Greek mythology, but it was the Victorians who turned flowers into a secret language that they used to send coded messages to one another; a very quaint kind of social media for the 19th century.

These floral messages took the form of little posies of flowers wrapped with a lace doily collar, and were called a tussie mussie.

I went to the inspiring setting of Petersham Nurseries and spent the morning with their head of horticulture Thomas Broom-Hughes learning more about the meanings and making my own scented posy (and eating a lot of cakes along the way!).

Some of my favourites are snowdrops, meaning hope, blue hyacinths and bluebells for constancy - a lovely gift for a true friend you can depend on - and dahlias for elegance and dignity. Dahlias were traditionally given to older ladies by the armful as a token of reverence and respect (and of course a compliment). For true love, forget roses (which signify beauty) and instead give tulips and myrtle.  

And a couple to beware of if you receive them: lavender means distrust, narcissi - as the name hints - means self-love and vanity, while a scarlet pelargonium means stupidity!