The Language of Flowers
Did you ever wonder why we always give and receive red and white flowers for Valentine’s Day?
The language of flowers became popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Virtually every flower, even its color, had special significance during this period. Flowers even formed secret correspondence between men and women with bouquets being chosen carefully to convey sentiment.
The red rose is the symbol of love; a pink rose the symbol of perfect happiness
Daffodils show regard; daisies, loyalty. Apple blossoms mean a preference for the recipient and the gardenia indicates secret love.
Plants also have meanings. Ivy is a symbol of wedded love; the fern, fascination.
Flowers express traits of character, too: the cactus, endurance; the azalea, temperance; and the iris, wisdom. If you give your favorite man a clove of garlic, be ready to explain that it is a compliment to his courage and strength.
You may have received some plants that are named quite appropriately for Valentine’s Day. There’s Cupid Dart (Catananche caerulea) used by ancient Greeks as an ingredient for love potions, nowadays called Love Plant. It has bright blue slightly fringed daisy-type petals.
Love in winter is Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata). Love Entangle (Sedam acre) is low with yellow flowers and suitable for borders. Then you may have gotten Lover’s Knot or Love’s Test, alias Everlasting. The All-American Roses’ of the year for 1980 were “Love”, “Honor” and “Cherish”.
The clematis once was known as Love Vine, and the common Snowball (Viburnum opulus sterile) as the love rose.
Back to red and white. Both colors are found in a “Picotee” effect rose basically white edged with red. It is named La Minuette, often simply called “Minuet”. Other varieties with this color pattern can be found. One is Neue Revue, with white petals edged in red.
Also red and white is Double Delight, which has petals in white or cream as the bloom opens, gradually turning red along the edges when exposed to bright light.
By Janet Hartin, San Bernardino County; Horticulture Advisor (first published Feb. 1986 and updated by Robert H. Schuler through the years).