The language of flowers, otherwise known as floriography, was widely used by Victorians to express their feelings. Flowers and different floral arrangements were used to send coded messages that propriety wouldn’t allow to be voiced out loud. Most well educated Victorian ladies knew the the different meanings that the flowers represented. The Turks used floriography in the 17th century as a way of communication among concubines who could not read. The language is still used today, even though most details of the language have been currently forgotten. One of the most common floriography messages that most people know is that red roses symbolize love. White roses symbolize chastity while sunflowers are a show of respect.
Some of the things that popularized the language included written literature on the topic. Lady Mary Wortley wrote <i>Secret Language of Flowers</i> in 1718 as a way of expounding more on the topic, based on what she had discovered while in Turkey. In 1819, Louise Cortambert under the pen name Madame Charlotte de la Tou published <i>Le Langage des Fleurs</i> ,The Language of Flowers. This was a small book that was considered to be the first dictionary of the flower language. It became quite a popular reference guide. In 1884, a more comprehensive book <i>The Language of Flowers</i> was written by Jean Marsh and illustrated by Kate Greenaway. The book became the standard reference guide for Victorian flower meanings. A number of <a href=”http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/publications/flowers/flowers.html” target=”_blank”>floral dictionaries</a> have been published since then. Well known literary authors such as William Shakespeare and Jane Austen used the language of flowers in some of their writings.
There is a set of etiquette that accompanies the flower language. For instance, how you hand over the flowers to someone conveys a message. Using your left hand to hand over flowers means “no”, while using your right hand means “yes”. So if a young man hands over flowers to a maiden and she plucked one bud of the flower and handed it to him using her left hand, it meant that his proposal had been rejected. If she handed over the bud to him using her right hand, it meant that the proposal had been accepted.