The Language of Flowers
PINK PEONY: The pink peony is be a beautiful circular flower for the center of a tussie-mussie. It has traditionally represented beauty as well as bashfulness.
In the early 19th-century, no Valentine’s Day celebration would have been complete without tussie-mussies: small, decorative bouquets of flowers that could be worn in one’s bosom, carried in a posy-holder, or displayed about the house. Measuring no more than 4" to 5" in diameter, these fragrant and tightly arranged nosegays consisted of a large, circular flower (such as a daisy) at the center surrounded by other smaller flowers, herbs, and foliage.
The essence of a traditional tussie-mussie, however, lay not only in its appearance, but also in the significance of its floral components. In addition to the then well-established exchange of Valentines, most Victorian men and women would have applied their knowledge of the language of flowers to convey a wide range of sentiments by either creating their own tussie-mussie or purchasing one from a florist.
The overall tastefulness and opulence of these small bouquets was said to reflect upon its maker’s sense of judgment, class, and refinement—so it’s no surprise that those who were not skilled in making them in 1860s New York were willing to pay upwards of $20 (the equivalent of $400, today) to get it right. To save you the expense of seeking an expert on the language of flowers and the making of your own Valentine’s Day bouquet, we’ve compiled a list of flowers and their associated meanings for your reference.
YELLOW CHRYSANTHEMUM: If you want to convey the joy a loved one gives you in your life, the yellow chrysanthemum symbolizes cheerfulness, optimism, health, and mirth.
GRAPE HYACINTH: Feeling playful? This plant's dancing, grape-like flowers have traditionally conveyed sentiments of kindliness, games, and sport.
PEACH GERANIUM: Don't be fooled by this flower's small, delicate appearance. According to the language of flowers, the geranium signifies "You are childish!"
WHITE ELDERBERRY: Elderberry's small, clustered flowers are perfect for framing the center of a posy. They signify kindness, compassion, and zeal.
PINK GERBERA DAISY: A pink gerbera daisy conveys vulnerability and a desire for friendship and protection.
RED TULIP: Like its popular Valentine's Day counterpart the red rose, a red tulip symbolizes ardent love and deep passion.
POPLAR TULIPS: If you want to send well wishes to a loved one who has retired from his or her job, the poplar tulip has traditionally conveyed this sentiment.
LAVENDER: The soothing fragrance of lavender is indicative of its symbolism in the language of flowers. It has been said to ease the tremblings and passions of the heart, and to symbolize luck, success, and happiness.
WHITE LILY: The lily is one of the many flowers adopted by the Catholic church. As such, it has become synonymous with purity, sovereignty, and fruitfulness.
ORANGE POPPY: The meaning of poppies is consistent with its portrayal in the Wizard of Oz—they are said to convey forgetfulness and sleep.
ENGLISH DAISY: The English Daisy is the embodiment of innocence and simplicity. It is an ideal addition to the Valentine's Day bouquet for a young love.