Young Victorians, especially girls, studied entire books on the subject. They would carefully pick apart (maybe even literally!) bouquets from their friends and lovers to find the hidden meaning.
One of my favorite stories she told was of the Titantic. As it was customary for friends to send a bouquet of flowers on your departure, (most likely sweet peas, meaning departure) the ship became overloaded with flowers. They ran out of vases to put the flowers in, so they had to dump the excess overboard. I wish I could have seen that! Anyways, here are some common flowers and their meanings.
Most meanings were positive:
|Baby's Breath - innocence, purity of heart|
|Dandelion - happiness|
|White lilac - youthful innocence|
|Phlox - proposal of love, sweet dreams|
|But some were bad:|
|Lavender - distrust|
|Marigold - cruelty, grief, jealousy|
|Tansy - I declare war against you!|
I also thought it was interesting how different colors of the same flower changed the meaning. (See the example with roses below.)
|Red rose - love|
Generally, a red flower means love or passion, a white flower means innocence or purity, and yellow flowers are not usually good.
There was also meanings in how many flowers you received and how they were positioned, but I won't go into that.