"Where flowers bloom, so does hope"
– Lady Bird Johnson
Birth flowers have special meanings and specific associations to certian months of the year, adopted from the Language of Flowers. Otherwise known as floriography, it was introduced to Britain by Mary Wortley during the Victorian era. At that time, the Victorians were extremely conservative and it was considered inappropriate to express feelings of love. Therefore, the language of flowers evolved, where a lover could send flowers to convey a secret romantic message.
The carnation is one of the few flowers that can survive in the winter’s extreme, cold months. Also known as Gillyflower, a carnation may come in hues of red, yellow, white, purple and even green. The deep red version of carnation matches well with garnet, the birthstone for January
. Carnation’s scientific name Dianthus roughly translates to "Flower of Love" or "Flower of the gods" and symbolizes love, fascination and distinction. Alternatively, carnation comes from the word "coronation" or the Greek word "corone", meaning flower garlands. The secret message conveyed by a carnation in the Victorian era differs by color. A red carnation means, "My heart aches for you", a pink carnation means, "I’ll never forget you", a yellow carnation means, "You have disappointed me", and a striped carnation means, "I wish I could be with you". A carnation is also the state flower of Ohio and the 1st wedding anniversary flower.
Violet is a delicate flower that appears at the end of February. It may come in shades of blue, mauve, or even yellow or cream. Violet denotes faithful love, humility and modesty. In the Victorian era, giving someone violets suggested "I’ll always be true". Dreaming of violets means that luck is coming your way, and that your future spouse will be younger than you. Violet is known as the state flower of Illinois, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, and the official flower of Greece. It is also given on the 50th wedding anniversary. In an American tradition, the birth flower for February is Primrose, which also symbolizes young love. Giving it to someone means that you can’t live without them.
Daffodil also known as Jonquil, may come in shades of white, yellow and orange, and blooms from February to May, symbolizing the end of winter. According to one legend, daffodils open their first buds exactly on March 1st, St. David’s Day in Wales, and the first day of spring in some parts of the world. They are a sign of rebirth and new beginnings that appear with each spring, and are traditionally connected with Easter. In England, they are called "Lent Lily". In Wales, one who spots the first daffodil of the season is said to be blessed with great fortune. Due to the Daffodil’s association with hope and rebirth, many cancer organizations in America, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland have adopted the Daffodil as its symbol of hope in its fight against cancer. They often sell daffodils on Daffodil Day, which is typically celebrated in March. Alternatively, daffodils stand for domestic happiness, unequaled love, friendship or vanity. The secret message conveyed by daffodils in the Victorian era was, "You are an angel". The Daffodil is also given on the 10th wedding anniversary and is the national flower of Wales.
Sweet Pea , a climbing, fragrant plant that comes in over 250 varieties originated in Italy, in the 17th century. It symbolizes modesty and simplicity. The meaning of the word may mean "goodbye" or "delicate pleasure". It is believed that the name Sweet Pea was first used by the English poet John Keats (1795-1821). Sweet Pea was considered the floral emblem of Edwardian England and was popular in the late 1800’s. English gardeners still call Sweet Peas the "Queen of Annuals". The secret message conveyed by the Sweet Pea is the Victorian era was, "Thank you for a lovely time". The Sweet Pea is used in wedding bouquets or to celebrate a birth of a new baby. It also celebrates Easter, Good Friday, Palm Sunday and Passover. Dried Sweet Pea petals are frequently used in potpourri. Sweet Peas are best known for their important contribution to genetics though the work of Gregor Mendel, who used them in his studies. In an American tradition, a Daisy or a Peony may be used as a birth flower of April. Those symbolize innocence, loyal love, healing, and gratitude. During the Victorian era a Daisy was a flower given among friends to keep a secret. It meant, "I’ll never tell".
Lily of the Valley is a low growing perennial plant with small, white, bell-shaped flowers symbolizes sweetness, humility, and happiness. The secret message conveyed by the Lily in the Victorian era is "You’ve made my life complete", and signifies the return of happiness. According to legend, Lily of the Valley sprang from Eve’s tears when she was kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Alternatively, the flowers sprang from Virgin Mary’s tears during the crucifixion of Jesus. The Lily is also a popular choice for wedding. Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton and Princess Grace Kelly both used the Lily in their bridal bouquets. Considered a symbol of spring by the French, the Lily is traditionally sold without sales tax on May 1st, the International Labor Day. The Lily of the Valley was a floral emblem of the former Yugoslavia and it became the national flower of Finland in 1967. In an American tradition, a Hawthorn plant may be used as a birth flower for May. It signifies hope and ultimate happiness. Nothing says that you want the best for its recipient quite like the Hawthorn plant.
Rose means pink or red in a variety of languages and is an ancient symbol of love, beauty and appreciation. The secret message conveyed by the Rose in the Victorian era depended on its color. Red meant "I love you", white meant "I’m worthy of you", or "you are heavenly", orange meant "You’re my secret love", yellow meant "I’m not worthy of your love", pink meant "please believe me" and white and red together meant "We are inseparable". The early Greeks and Romans associated the Rose with Aphrodite, the goddess of love in Greek, or Venus, its name in Roman. Rose Water, created from rose petals, has been used in many Middle Eastern nations for medicinal, ceremonial and even culinary use. The Rose is the national flower of England, the provincial flower of Alberta, Canada, and the floral emblem of the U.S. since 1986. It is also the state flower of Georgia, Iowa, North Dakota, and New York. In the American tradition, a honeysuckle may be used for June’s birth flower. It is a strong symbol of eternal love.
Larkspur , a fast-growing garden favorite, conveys an open heart and strong bonds of love. The shape of its buds are dolphin-like, hence its scientific name is Delphinium. Although its most common color is blue, other varieties such as pink, purple, red, white and yellow also occur. The Larkspur starts to bloom in late spring, making it an appropriate birth flower for July. The secret message conveyed by the Larkspur in the Victorian era depended on its color. Pink meant indecisiveness, white meant blissful and carefree, and mauve meant "your character is charming", or it may have represented a first love. According to the Greek mythology, red Larkspur sprang from the blood of Ajax, a hero of the Trojan War, after he killed himself. Larkspur is also said to keep away poisonous snakes and scorpions, as well as ghosts. The Native Americans have long used the blue Larkspur to make blue dye. Today it is used widely in potpourri or in incense. In the American tradition, a Water Lilly is used for July’s birth flower. It stands for purity and dignity.
Gladiolus is a striking flower with large vertical blossoms that comes in such colors as pink, red, white, yellow, and orange. It is also called the Sword Lily because its leaves look like swords (gladius means sword in Latin). The secret message conveyed by the Gladiolus in the Victorian era was "love at first sight", as its recipient’s heart was "pierced with love". Today it symbolizes sincerity, integrity, and strength of character. It is used as for the 40th wedding anniversary. Alternatively, the Poppy may be used as a birth flower for August. A red poppy implies blissful pleasure, a white poppy is given for comfort, and a yellow poppy ensures prosperity and success. Additionally, the Poppy symbolizes beauty, magic, fertility and resurrection. More recently, Poppy has been used as a symbol of remembrance of those whose lives were lost in World War I.
Aster comes from the Greek word Astron, which means "star". These star-shaped wildflowers bloom in the late summer and fall and are powerful symbols of love, patience, daintiness, and wisdom. Some attribute healing properties to Asters. The ancients believed that perfume made out of burned Aster leaves banished evil serpents. In yet another interpretation, Asters came into being when the Greek goddess Asterea cried, endowing Asters with mystical powers. During the Victorian era, the secret message conveyed by the Aster was, "take care of yourself for me", or "I am not sure if you’re being faithful or not". Interestingly, the flower is called Aster in many languages throughout the world, such as French, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch. Traditionally, the Aster may be given on the 20th wedding anniversary. Alternatively, Morning Glory may be used for the September birth flower. Morning Glory symbolizes genuine feelings of fondness.
Marigold is a fall flowering plant famous for its bright yellow and orange hues. It comes in two varieties, Tagetes and Calendula, with the latter being edible. In Latin, Calendula means "first of the month", and legend dictates that these flowers magically bloom on the first of every month throughout the year. Marigold, in turn, is named for "Mary’s Gold", as the flowers were "golden gifts" presented to Virgin Mary by the poor who couldn’t give actual gold. Calendula dipped in wine has been used to aid in digestion, and in ointments for skin and eye irritations, toothaches, and jaundice. It is an excellent insect repellant and has been used in salads or as a food coloring instead of saffron, to add color to cakes, puddings and butter. The Marigold has been added to pillows to encourage prophetic dreams and incorporated into wedding wreaths and garlands as a love charm. It has been used in Asia to decorate religious statues and during wedding and funerals. However, in the English culture it symbolizes comfort, healing, and sympathy. During the Victorian era, the secret message conveyed by the Marigold was "My thoughts are with you". In modern day Mexico, Marigolds are used to adorn the graves of the deceased during the Dia de los Muertos celebration.
Chrysanthemum is derived from the word "chrysos" which means gold and "anthos" which means flower in Greek. Otherwise known as the mums, they come in a variety of colors, from gold (its original color) to white, purple and red. They symbolize love, joy, friendship, abundance, and wealth. During the Victorian era, the secret message conveyed by the Chrysanthemum was "You’re a wonderful friend". A red Chrysanthemum means "I love you", a white denotes love, innocence and purity, and a yellow stands for love taken for granted, or unreciprocated love. The Chinese use Chrysanthemum as a good luck charm in the home and according to Feng Shui it brings laughter and merriment. Confucius suggested Chrysanthemum to be used in meditation. In a Tibetan tradition, Chrysanthemum symbolizes the path to enlightenment and the inner peace that follows. The Japanese, hoping to lengthen their lifespan, would place a single Chrysanthemum petal onto the bottom of their wine glass. Chrysanthemum is also used by the Japanese during their annual Festival of Happiness. Chrysanthemum is the 13th wedding anniversary flower and the official state flower of Chicago.
Narcissus There are several Narcissus species that bloom specifically in the winter. For the ancient Greeks, the Narcissus spelled egoism, vanity and conceit. Greek mythology tells us of a Grecian youth, Narkissos, who was so in love with his reflection in a pond that he drowned in it. Immediately, a Narcissus flower sprang up in that spot. During the Victorian era, the secret message conveyed by the Narcissus was "You’re the only one". Today, the Narcissus symbolizes sweetness, respect, modesty and faithfulness. It suggests the idea that you want your beloved to stay exactly the way they are and to never change. For the Chinese, the Narcissus is a symbol of prosperity and good luck, since it blooms all through the Chinese New Year. Alternatively, a Holly may be used for the December birth flower. It symbolizes domestic happiness and bliss.