It has been 30 years since The Herbal Husband and I started dating. Long before our first Valentine’s Day, the Victorians were way ahead of their time by expressing their emotions through flowers. In this digital age—when everyone is communicating through their phone—it might be nice to communicate through such old-fashioned methods.
Two of my favorite books about the language of flowers and tussie-mussies! Photo by Nancy Heraud
For this Valentine’s Day, why not make a tussie-mussie and speak the language of flowers? Geri Adamich Laufer wrote one of my favorite books, “Tussie-Mussies,” with wonderful photographs of actual bouquets. She also wrote a comprehensive article for The Herb Companion (now Mother Earth Living) almost 20 years ago about Victorian tussie-mussies, which taught readers how to make them and speak the language of flowers. Newly retired herb shop owner Kathleen Gips also wrote two lexicons on the language of flowers that I rely on whenever I make my bouquets. My favorite is “Flora’s Dictionary.” Using these resources, I’ve made a number of tussie-mussies over the years for friends on different occasions (not just Valentine’s Day). This is the year I surprised The Herbal Husband by making one for him.
Because the weather has been so frigid, I could not rely on my herb garden for tussie-mussie materials. Instead, I went to my local florist, Z Florist, and found a selection of flowers. They had individual stems of flowers that were very reasonably priced.
A red rose (“I love you”); carnation (pure and ardent love); daisy (“I will think of it”); baby’s breath (everlasting love); and some herbs from the indoor plants: peppermint scented geranium (cordial feelings), lemon verbena (“You have bewitched me”) and rosemary (for remembrance). I think it turned out very well and he was both pleased and surprised. I had to give it to him early so that this post could be posted before Valentine’s Day. It is always good to surprise them every once in a while. It keeps your relationship interesting and special.
The Herbal Husband’s first tussie-mussie. Photo by Nancy Heraud
One of my favorite Facebook pages, Speak the Language of Flowers, has put together a special potpourri just for my post in time for Valentine’s Day.
A potpourri in the language of flowers. Photo by Elizabeth Bergstrom Case
“You’re the Apple of My Eye” PotpourriPotpourri recipe courtesy Elizabeth Bergstrom Case of Benevolent Botanical Greetings
A high-quality potpourri can be easy to make from dried herbs and blossoms. Try this blend for Valentine’s Day to send a message of love and festivity. Makes about 1 quart.
• 3 tablespoons whole cloves (warmth, festivity)
• 1 to 2 teaspoons apple spice fragrance oil or 1 teaspoon clove or cinnamon essential oil
• 1 1/2 cups red rose petals and buds (for love)
• 3/4 cup white globe amaranth (unfading love)
• 1 cup loosely packed catnip leaves (intoxicated with love)
• 1/2 cup cedar sprigs (“I live but for thee,” think of me)
• 1/3 to 1/2 cup dried apple slices (preference, apple of my eye)
• 18 to 20 1-inch cinnamon sticks (love, beauty, stirs passion)
1. Combine the whole cloves and the fragrance or essential oil in a small, air-tight container. Let the cloves absorb the oil for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 3 days. This step will help your potpourri retain its fragrance.
2. In a 2-quart air-tight container, combine the remaining herbs and blossoms. Add the cloves after they’ve absorbed the oil and gently blend together.
3. Let your potpourri age for at least 3 day and up to 3 weeks so the fragrance can permeate the entire blend. Occasionally, gently tilt and roll the container to blend the herbs and blossoms while it ages.
4. After your “Apple of My Eye” potpourri has matured, display it in a bowl or give it as a gift. See if you can identify the herb/flower and corresponding translation in your finished potpourri. Find more herbs/flowers and their translations at the Benevolent Botanical Greetings website. Join us on Facebook to Speak the Language of Flowers.
I hope I have inspired you to do something old-fashioned and unique to celebrate your love for Valentine’s Day.
As always, if you have a comment or question about any of my posts, please write to me here or my email at email@example.com and put in the subject line “Herb Comment or Question.” If you could also let me know where you live in the U.S. (or elsewhere), it will help me answer your herb question more precisely. And be sure to visit my blog Lemon Verbena Lady's Herb Garden. Talk to you soon.