"Some flowers spoke with strong
and powerful voices, which proclaimed
in accents trumpet-tongued,"I am beautiful,
and I rule". Others murmured in tones
scarcely audible, but exquisetly soft and sweet,
"I am little, and I am beloved"."
-- George Sand (Armandine A.L. Dupin), (1804 - 1876) French writer
Joy and jealousy, desire and dejection, solitude and sadness, loyalty and love — flowers echo each voice of the human heart.
While the symbolic and legendary meanings of flowers were known to many during Elizabethan times, it was the Victorians who assigned simple messages to individual flowers. Introduced to the Swedish court in 1714 by Charles II, the Victorian mode of flower language soon spread throughout Europe.
During this time of strict protocol and conformity, men and women used the beauty and color of flowers to express emotions, wishes and thoughts they dared not speak, and every corsage, bouquet, and garland represented a carefully chosen sentiment. Presentation was also important; for example, a bouquet with a ribbon tied to the left told about the giver, while a ribbon tied to the right signified the receiver. Upside-down bouquets portrayed the exact opposite of the flowers' common meanings: to receive an inverted rose was the ultimate form of rejection.
Flower Language became so important that durch die Blume sprechen (speaking through flowers) became a Western proverb, which meant any flowery or poetic expression hiding a secret message of love.