I am the gardener at a Victorian home and small museum. We are planning to host a garden tour next year focusing on the meanings that the Victorians attached to the flowers. Can anyone share some good ones with me? Also any background on the history of the plants would be greatly appreciated!
ZG, I don't know much about the subject myself, but I do know there are some sources you might check out for the info. One would be a nearby Botanical Garden who has an affiliated herb society. Our local garden group makes up nosegays (which I believe are definitely Victorian). There is also a 'Victorian Cotillion' here in town that concentrates on the meanings the Victorians attached to flowers. And don't forget the language of the fan (which usually has flowers attached)!! I know an 80+ lady who presents this information to the young girls coming into the Cotillion.
Thanks for the information! It is an interesting subject. So far, my favorite discoveries have been that poppies are the symbol for "fantastic extravagance" (We have P. somniferum growing and I tend to agree with that description) and that hollyhocks symbolized "feminine ambition"! LOL! Your suggestions have given me a few new avenues to pursue. Thanks again.
If you have a high speed internet connection there is a book called "The Language of Flowers" (1869) available for free download at http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/7360369. This book was donated by New York Botanical Garden. You can read it online but the PDF is much easier. The PDF download is 17 mb - took less than a minute on my connection. This 296 page book is a treasure of plant meanings & history.
Thanks! Great article! A couple of other interesting ones I've run across: Nutmeg conveys intoxicating love. Vanilla Beans for good luck. White roses, I am worthy of you. Crown Imperial, power. And American Cowslip (Dodecatheon Meadia), You are my angel.
Another great one...Alchemilla was said to preserve a woman's youth if she gathered the dew from the plant in May, in full moonlight, alone, naked and in bare feet as a sign of purity and to ward off evil spirits!