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Victorian Tussie Mussie: Glossary of Herbal Sentiments

By Geraldine Adamich Laufer
April/May 1996
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Use our glossary of more than 70 garden herbs to discover the meaning behind this nosegay.


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Imagine a silent language made up completely of herbs and flowers that can symbolize any situation or emotion. Here is a glossary of more than 70 garden herbs and their meanings compiled from dozens of nineteenth-century language-of-flowers books from several horticultural libraries as well as from my own library. A glossary of nearly 500 flowers and plants and their meanings appears in my book Tussie-Mussies: The Victorian Art of Expressing Yourself in the Language of Flowers (New York: Workman, 1993).

• Allium: unity, humility, patience

• Angelica: inspiration

• Artemisia: power, dignity, silver moonlight, sentimental recollections, unceasing remembrance

• Basil: love, betrothal, best wishes, ­hatred

• Bay Laurel: success, personal accomplishment, glory, achievement in the arts, reward of merit

• Bee Balm: ompassion, sweet virtues, your whims are unbearable

• Borage: courage, bluntness, directness

• Box: stoicism

• Broom: humility

• Bugle: cheer, most lovable

• Burnet, Salad: a merry heart, joy

• Calendula: health, joy, remembrance, ­constancy, the sun, affection, disquietude, grief, jealousy,­ ­­misery, cares, caraway for prevention of infidelity

• Chamomile: energy in adversity, comfort, patience, help against ­wearisomeness, plant physician

• Clover: good luck, good education, hard work, industry

• Coltsfoot: justice shall be done you

• Comfrey: home sweet home

• Coneflower, Purple: skill, capability

• Dill: irresistible, soothing

• Dittany: birth

• Dock: patience

• Fennel: worthy of all praise, force, strength, thinness

• Feverfew: good health, warmth, you light up my life

• Forget-Me-Not: true love, hope, remembrance, do not forget me

• Foxglove: insincerity, a wish, decision, I am not ambitious for myself but for you

• Garlic: protection, strength, courage, good luck

• Geranium, Scented: preference, gentility, comfort

• Ginger: safe, pleasant, comforting, warming

• Hops: mirth, rest, sleep, beer

• Hyssop: cleansing

• Johnny-Jump-Up: happy thoughts

• Lamb's-Ears: support, softness, gentleness

• Lavender: devotion, luck, success, ­happiness, distrust, soothing the passions of the heart, ardent attachment

• Lemon Balm: sharp wit, understanding, healing, love, fun, relief, rejuvenation, sympathy, social inter course

• Lemon Verbena: attractive to the opposite sex, responsibility

• Lovage: strength

• Mint: warmth of feeling

• Mint, Lemon: virtue, homeyness, cheerfulness

• Mint, Pineapple: hospitality, welcome

• Mugwort: travel, to overcome fatigue, ­conception, comfort, be not weary

• Myrtle: marriage, love, married bliss, fidelity, passion, peace, home, joy

• Nasturtium: patriotism

• Nettle: cruelty, slander

• Nigella: perplexity, embarrassment, ­independence, prosperity, kiss me twice before I rise

• Oregano: joy, happiness

• Parsley: festivity, feasting, thanks, ­gratitude, useful knowledge

• Pennyroyal: flee

• Peppermint: warmth, cordiality

• Perilla: role reversal

• Pinks: lively and pure affection, ­fascination, sweetness, boldness, newlyweds, dignity, taste

• Poppy: forgetfulness, sleep, oblivion, evanescent pleasure

• Rosemary: remembrance, devotion, fidelity, wisdom, good luck in the new year, your presence revives me

• Sage: domestic virtue, wisdom, skill, esteem, to mitigate grief

• Sage, Jerusalem: pride of ownership, earthly ­delights

• Sage, Pineapple: hospitality, esteem, virtue

• Sage, Purple-Leaved: gratitude

• Santolina: aggressiveness, pursuit wards off evil

• Savory: mental powers

• Soapwort: cleanliness

• Sorrel: parental affection, joy

• Southenwood: jest, bantering

• Spearmint: warmth of sentiment

• Statice: never-ceasing remembrance

• Sweet Cicely: gladness, sincerity, rejoicing, comfort

• Sweet Marjoram: blushes, mirth, consolation, joy, happiness, kindness, courtesy, distrust

• Sweet Woodruff: eternal life and rejoicing, cordiality, athletic victory

• Tansy: hope against miscarriage, I ­declare against you

• Thyme: activity, bravery, courage, strength, manger herb

• Valerian: accommodating disposition, drunk and blousy

• Vervain: good fortune, wishes granted

• Violet: modesty, faithfulness, humility, simplicity, loyalty, I return your love

• Wormwood: affection, absence, bitterness, protection for travelers

• Yarrow: health, to dispel melancholy and heartache, sorrow, healing of wounds, war


Geri Laufer is a professional tussie-mussie maker, a horticulturist, lecturer, author, and herb gardener in Atlanta, Georgia.

Click here for the main article,  Victorian Tussie Mussie .


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