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Imagine a secret code of communication that doesn’t rely on the written word.  One that allows exchangers to express a range of emotions that might never even be spoken.  Such is the language of flowers, developed during the reign of Queen Victoria, whose birthday is celebrated today in Canada.

It became popular at the time to send coded messages by flowers or small arrangements of blooms, called posies, which were frequently worn on ladies’ dresses.  Each flower came to represent a specific message.  Although this code was well known among all layers of society during Victoria’s time, it was eventually forgotten. 

Here are a few meanings behind some of the flowers presently in bloom in Nova Scotia.

Apple blossoms, shown above at left, would send the message that you prefered the recipient over another.  If you felt sorry for someone, you could send elderflowers, shown above at centre, as they indicate compassion.  Dandelions, at top right, communicate flirting.  There are certainly enough of these bright yellow blooms to send to everyone these days.

In contrast, forget-me-nots, shown above at left, would be sent only to one’s true love.  Blue violets, shown above at centre, are symbols for faithfulness.  Considering how easily these tiny flowers can be overlooked, it’s no wonder that the white violets, shown above at right, communicate modesty.

Coded floral messages could also make it easier to deliver awkward sentiments.  If you wanted to communicate the message that you wanted to be alone, lichens, symbols of solitude, would say it well, especially dusted with a frost of snow. 

Today, the Victorian era (1837-1901) is considered an age of romance that saw a revival of family values and improved social morals, inspired in part by Victoria’s long-lasting affection for her husband Albert.  The secret code of flowers is part of that legacy.

For more information on the language of flowers see the entry at Wikipedia.

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