Life And Style: The Victorian Language of Flowers (Lesson Three)

And so, once more, we are to delve into the secretive and mysterious world of the language of flowers.

Except, with the help of Behind The Past, it will not be secretive and mysterious for you! And, as the April showers fall and spring begins to appear, who is to say that the new season won’t bring romance along with it? For that reason, this lesson will be dedicated to the rose, which is perhaps the most romantic of flowers.

However, although it is all very well and good to say that the rose is a flower of love, there is far more to it than that. And so, using the famous guide by Miss Greenaway, we shall uncover those hidden messages that the untutored eye might miss…

The type of rose, for example, also conveys a further meaning. If you receive a bouquet of Austrian roses, you ought to be very flattered indeed. The sender is trying to say that you are ‘all that is lovely’. The recipient of damask roses is being complemented on their ‘brilliant complexion’.

Colour is another important consideration. Deep red roses are said to speak of bashful shame, while yellow roses are an ominous message of jealously or of a decrease in affection.

A further aspect to understanding roses is the ability to interpret stylistic messages. A rose without a thorn indicates an early attachment. It reminds us of the beginnings of love, when we do not always know object of our affection fully. One hopes the attachment with endure after the discovery of personal flaws. A single rose suggests simplicity, and so perhaps an open, frank and honest type of love. And a crown of roses symbolises the reward of virtue.

To conclude, within the scope of love, there are many other thoughts and feelings which the love-struck and the lovelorn may feel the need to convey. And for those who cannot (or should not) speak their feelings aloud, roses can act as a language of love.


Greenaway, Kate, The Language Of Flowers, (London: George Routledge and Sons) [First Published 1884].

This entry was tagged Courtship, Flowers, Life and Style, Victorian. Bookmark the permalink.

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