Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Language of Flowers

When I was in Junior High School the seventh graders were given the Kuder Preference Test which was supposed to give us a road to follow for our future careers. I knew statistician, physicist or accountant would not be suggested for me, but I was totally surprised when my results showed I should become a florist. Pansies and roses grew in my yard and today, over fifty years later, they still hold a special place in my heart, the purple pansies reminding me of my father, but back then I barely knew a nasturtium from a peony. Now, though, I can understand that career suggestion better. I enjoy gardening and I’m pretty good at arranging flowers. Maybe I would have made a fine florist with my own shop like Ruby Jewell in The Art of Arranging Flowers, a novel by Lynne Branard.     

Ruby’s choice of flowers in the bouquets she arranges for the folks in her small town of Creekside, Washington seem to influence love affairs and the health and healing of her friends and neighbors. The language of flowers is a lovely thought, one that Victorians subscribed to. By the choice of blooms, they believed subtle clues could be used to amplify a message. I’ll have to be more conscious of the blossoms I choose to make them more appropriate for each occasion.

For a friend in the hospital I’ll send orange colored flowers to boost their energy and strengthen a weak pulse. A vase full of Gerbera daisies would add cheerfulness and a sprig of alstromeria would let the receiver know I’m devoted to our friendship. For a pregnant woman experiencing morning sickness, I might send a bunch of violets and nasturtiums, as Ruby did, to ease the symptoms of nausea and if I unfortunately have someone going through depression white flowers are supposed to heal the spirit and dispel negativity.

Modern times have come far from the language of flowers often written about in the early to mid nineteenth century, but one sweetly scented vine that infuses the air along the South Carolina coast is a blossom people might want to try growing no matter where they live. Jasmine. Plant of pot of the fragrant white buds, let them climb up the side of your house closest to your bedroom and watch what happens. According to Ruby Jewell, those waxy-white flowers with oval shiny leaves will not only alleviate doubts - they will increase sexual desire.                                                                     

Whether or not your sex life intensifies, for those of you fortunate to have a garden, whether postage stamp size or as large as Versailles, when you bend down to weed or mulch around the flowers, dead head the spent blooms or simply snip a fluffy peony bend from your hips not your back. Squat down, let your buttocks slide back toward your heels and then do the work. You will save yourself a great deal of back pain if you bend this way rather than forward from your waist. And after you’ve cut the delphinium and zinnias remember to pull in your abdomen before you return to a full standing position. Use your belly muscles, thighs and buttocks to bring you up so you can enjoy the beautiful, colorful blooms free of back pain. Then snip the ends of the stems on an angle, arrange the flowers in a beautiful vase filled with cool fresh water and see what happens. Does Ruby Jewell have the answer? 


  1. Unfortunately, the knees don't allow this! GREAT post. I'd love to have room for Zinnias! :)

  2. Linda, this is my fourth attempt to comment. Now, what was it I was trying to say, LOL? I thoroughly enjoyed this post - particularly since I waxed recently about a handful of dead and nearly dead items and some unexpected happenings (http://www.thejadedlens.com/2014/06/12/signs-of-life-watering-miracles/). Hubby and I are finally cleaning up the back garden so we can begin planting and then enjoying flowers and veggies.

  3. Really lovely post, Linda. I love the language of flowers, in all its beauty and metaphoric nuance. Better yet, I simply love flowers.

  4. Love, love, love this post. Already read and e
    njoyed the book as well as your tips for deadheading flowers in the garden. You do have a way with words!