Create Messages With Herbs and Flowers

Learn which posies say "I'm sorry" and which scream "Congratulations!"

| February/March 2002

Fresh-cut flowers and herbs are a surefire way to brighten a room or make someone’s day. We use them to say “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” or “Thank you.” But over the years, flowers have been invested with a language of their own. For instance, a gift of ivy says “fidelity.” A stem of goldenrod says, “Be careful.” The basis for this language began in Turkey in the 1600s and traveled to Europe in the 1700s. Meanings have transmuted, and inconsistencies abound. Still, an inkling of this symbolism lets you create more meaningful bouquets.

“What matters in flower-giving is heartfelt sentiment, not necessarily aesthetics or precision of message,” says Heather Pike, owner of Heather Pike Designs in Walls, Mississippi. “The little aw-shucks bunch of drooping daisies that fellows always seem to pull from behind their backs in romantic movies often capture our hearts more than perfect bouquets.”

Some provocative combinations follow on the next page, but mix and match posies as you please. And as you go from garden to grocery store to florist gathering your bunch, use the time to think about the message you’d like your bouquet to convey.


Cabbage leaves profit
Columbine, purple resolved to win
Cress stability, power
Oak leaves bravery
Tiger lily wealth, pride
Tulip fame

Family allegiance 

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