Hi everyone! Whenever I think of spring, images of daffodils, tulips, and hyacinth fill my mind. How about you? Do you think of pansies? Or maybe forsythia? Whatever flowers mean “spring” to you, I bet it’s bright and beautiful. Now that the season is clearly on the way, I thought I would highlight some spring flowers, while at the same time considering the Victorian meanings attributed to them. Sound interesting? Let’s take a look.
The Victorians led rather exacting lives filled with layers of meaning, complicated ritual, and high expectations. Table settings involved special utensils and china for every unique food, like tiny salt spoons and celery vases. Victorians wore flowers in their hats and on their lapels, carried small bouquets (called tussie mussies), and sent secret messages via specific flowers and herbs. For example, hyacinth stood for constancy and tulips for perfect lover.
In Albany, come the first week-end in May, you will find crowds oohing and ahhing over tulips, enjoying live music, and shopping from a multitude of crafters in our Washington Park. It is the Tulip Festival, an annual Albany (NY) event that has been celebrated for sixty-seven years (and where these tulip photos were taken).
If your lover (or would-be lover) had beautiful eyes, then you would give him/her variegated tulips, like this stunning example in yellow and red.
If you wished to convey to a friend that s/he should hold out hope, then one would bring or send snowdrops. My sweet husband and I discovered this little patch of snowdrops next to St. George’s church in the Schenectady Stockade. They remind us of England, where they grew abundantly in Derbyshire, our home the two years we lived there. They give us hope that someday we may return.
Pansies send the merry message that the receiver is in the giver’s thoughts, a subtle message, perhaps pointing to something more serious?
This honey bee is certainly serious about the pansy’s pollen.
It shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that crocus stand for cheerfulness or gladness, which they certainly bring in early spring, especially after a long winter. One of my favorite spring images is of crocus peeping through a light layer of snow.
Daffodils symbolize chivalry, while jonquils convey sympathy or desire. I guess I’d avoid sending jonquils as I’d be afraid of sending mixed messages! On this spring visit to Chatsworth (England), the daffodils and jonquils were in full bloom throughout the estate. Chatsworth is said to have been Jane Austin’s inspiration for Permberly, and movie-makers in fact used it as such in the 2005 version of the movie.
Sweet-scented apple blossoms indicate good fortune or that better things are yet to come. I grew up in apple country (upstate New York) and so am personally partial to apple blossoms.
A single cherry blossom, oddly enough, means education. I’m hard pressed to think of a time when that might be relevant.
Perhaps a bouquet for someone upon their graduation?
One rainy day in May, not too long ago, my sweet husband and I drove out to Sharon Springs (NY) and took a tour of Beekman Farm, home of the Beekman Boys. While balsam do not fall into the flower category, the Victorians did attribute a meaning to it, that of ardent love. Perhaps its divine aroma had something to do with that attribution.
Purple lilac, my sweet sister’s favorite flower, stand for the first emotions of love, a lovely thought given how their powerful scent can swiftly fill a room and thus serve as a steady reminder of that love.
One last tulip photo. It delighted me to learn that yellow tulips acknowledge that there’s sunshine in your smile. May it be true, friends, may it be true!
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