for you: a writer’s bouquet

#8 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

tussie-mussie from MYbeeboANDbijou’s photostream.

You probably know that roses symbolize love; lilies, purity; and rosemary, remembrance.

But did you know that if someone hands you a flower with his/her right hand, it means, yes, and with their left hand, no? If the flower is upright, the feelings are positive, but watch out for flowers with their heads down!

I’ve long been fascinated by the language of flowers, which was all the rage during Victorian times. Depending on which flowers were chosen, what size, how they were grouped together, and how presented, bouquets enabled givers to express thoughts and sentiments society prevented them from sharing openly.

photo by charlie3engineer.

We’ve all heard about those repressed Victorians. With their keen interest in botany and love for elaborate decoration, they took the phrase, “say it with flowers” to new heights. Tussie-Mussies, or small nosegays of herbs and flowers wrapped in doilies and tied with ribbon, contained secret coded messages that quickened the heart. This necessitated the publication of numerous floriography dictionaries — so recipients could accurately decipher the passion behind the petal.

Floral language — rich, fascinating, and varied by culture, dates back centuries to the Greeks and Aztecs, and includes references to classical mythology, religious symbolism, and ancient lore. A small pamphlet like the one pictured below was often kept close at hand for quick reference.

            Language of Flowers, circa 1861,
from Piedmont Fossil’s photostream.

Today, I’m offering you this special tussie-mussie, a little bigger than was traditional, since it contains not a few, but 28 carefully selected blooms, gleaned from several different floral dictionaries. The romance between us, a friendship nurtured by a mutual love for words, may not require secrecy, but all too often the courage, patience, persistence, and ambition necessary to sustain a writing career are taken for granted, and much needed words of encouragement or appreciation go unspoken.

So, for what I may have failed to say, but want you to have, here’s your very own word nosegay. May it sustain you always, and help you court your muse!


from homeandheart’s photostream.

A – Amaryllis, to encourage the creative muse.

photo by Vanda’s Pictures.

B – Bittersweet, for Truth.

C – Clematis, for Artifice and Ingenuity.

D – Dandelions, for Wishes Come True.

from riaskiff’s photostream.

E – Edelweiss, for Courage and Daring.

F – Fir, a gift of Time.

G – Ginger, for Strength.

photo by rist2796.

H – Hepatica, for Confidence,

photo by HelenJr.

and Heather, for Solitude.

photo by Mutley27.

I – Iris, for Faith, Wisdom, and Hope.

J – Jasmine (white), for Amiability.

K – Kennedia, for Intellectual Beauty.

photo byDalinean.

L – Larkspur, for an Open Heart, and Lupine, for Imagination.

photo by Jungle Durian.

M – Myrtle (wax), for Discipline and Instruction, and Magnolia for Perseverance.

photo by Rana Pipiens.

N – Nasturtium, for Conquest and Victory!

O – Oxeye Daisy, for Patience.

photo by Roger B.

P – Parsley, for Useful Knowledge.

photo by foxielicious.

Q – Queen of the Prairie, for a Farsighted Outlook.

R – Raggedy Robin, for Wit, and Rose (red and white), for Creative Force.

photo by audreyjm529.

S – Sunflower, for Good Luck, Wealth, and Ambition.

T – Tulip (pink), for Dreaminess.

photo by Allard1.

V – Valerian, for an Accommodating Disposition.

W – Wormwood : Do not be discouraged!

Y – Yarrow, to dispel melancholy and cure heartache.

photo by Tanaka Juuyoh.

Z – Zinnia (yellow), for Daily Remembrance.

*Since the business of writing and publishing is especially difficult these days, I’m adding another little treat: a solid color carnation, signifying the one word writers most long to hear: YES YES YES! For double good luck, I’m handing it over with my right hand .

photo by abbietabbie.

Love’s language may be talked with these;
To work out choicest sentences
No blossoms can be meeter;
And, such being used in Eastern bowers,
Young maids may wonder if the flowers
Or meanings be the sweeter.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 Certified authentic alphabetica, handmade especially for you with love and a bounty of blossoms.

20 thoughts on “for you: a writer’s bouquet

  1. Oooh, that Hepatica is gorgeous…and Confident!

    I remember hearing about flower language when I watched Masterpiece Theater’s Cranford and the bestowed bouquets played a role in the plot. Nowadays, we have email with little cryptic emoticons.

    Thank you for the nosegay; I’ll return to it for inspiration.


  2. You’re welcome, Melodye. I thought of you while doing this post, and the beautiful basket of yellow flowers you shared here on May Day. Can you believe the month is already ending?


  3. Tanita Says 🙂

    All the flowers — lupine and heather and all the lovely ginger — and somehow dandelions still just capture my imagination, and the imagination of every single kid in the world. Lovely – a feast of the senses, and a breather from the busyness of the day.

    And the “YES! YES!” carnation helps too. That’s a star I’ll be wishing on! Thanks, Jama.


  4. Re: Tanita Says 🙂

    You’re welcome, Tanita!! Glad you found the fragrance of this post to your liking. We could all use a YES carnation in our lives, for sure.


  5. I have a small red book called The Language of Flowers, which I bought at an antique store for not very much money. It’s from 1968. Here is some agrimony for you, to express thankfulness:


  6. What a beautiful gift!
    I LOVE this post. It’s just what I needed today!

    When we lived in France we learned that they too speak the language of flowers.
    I quickly learned to never give chrysanthemums as a hostess gift. It’s only a funeral flower.

    Have a lovely day!


  7. Thanks for stopping in today, Becky. Yes, chrysanthemums are a funeral flower in some parts of the world, but to the Victorians, they symbolized positive things, like love and truth. 🙂


  8. Love all these beautiful flowers. I think the daisy is my favorite. Not that I need patience. Not at all. No. Uhm, but if it could hurry up and reach me that would be great!

    (BTW, got my lovely book from you today too. Thank you again!)


  9. Oh my, that Kennedia is gorgeous, and I’ve never heard of it ’til now.



  10. What a lovely idea — bookmarks from nature. I usually make potpourri from dried flowers instead of pressing them, but a bookmark might be nice once in awhile :).


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