Posted by: Brenda Kula | March 6, 2008

The Language Of Flowers


Mankind has attached significant meanings to flowers, going so far as to formulate a language called "floriography." This was particularly utilized during the Victorian era, for flowers have long been known to have both religious and symbolic meanings. In the Middle Ages, herbs were believed to have magical powers.

When I plant a garden in memory of someone I loved who has died, I try to add plants and herbs that have meaning. Ones that remind me of the relationship I had with the person or pet. For instance, I planted a red rose in Charlyce’s Garden. The red rose means "love, I love you, respect and beauty." This is why so many of you receive red roses on Valentine’s Day, or when someone is professing their love for you. Roses of other colors have different meanings.

If you want to utilize this symbolic use of flowers, Google "language of flowers", or "Victorian meanings for herbs", etc. You will find all kinds of useful things to represent your gardens.

The petunia, as shown above, means "your presence soothes me."


Sage, of course, is where we get "wisdom."


Honeysuckle, which my husband particularly loves, means "the bond of love." Mine is just beginning to show yellow buds right now, which I couldn’t get a good photo of, unfortunately!


Geranium means "true friend." But if you have the lemon geranium, which some nurseries carry, and which I love for the scent and the way it seems to keep mosquitoes at bay, it means, "unexpected meeting." Ivy geranium means "your hand for next dance."


The origin of thyme is Greek, symbolizing courage.


Fern stands for "magic, fascination, confidence, and shelter." The maidenhair fern means "secret bond of love, and discretion."


Ivy symbolizes "wedded love, fidelity, friendship, and affection."

When I plant a garden, I often put some thought into these meanings, for my own enjoyment.



  1. oh I just needed this post! sigh

    I had a beautiful perennial garden before we moved 3 years ago– someday, I’ll have another one again with LOTS of lemon geranium to counter the mosquitoes– great tip!

  2. I like the idea of memory gardens and some of the flower language is kind of fun. But Brenda, one of my favorite flowers is any kind of yellow rose – which the floral message meaning system tagged as “Jealousy”. Phooey.

    I’ll use Rosemary for Remembrance but totally ignore any rules about Yellow Roses ;-]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Hi Brenda,
    I really enjoyed this post. I love learning meanings of things and where they originated. Thank you for the lesson – I will remember this when I look at my geraniums and sage. I didn’t know the lemon geraniums would fight off mosquitos either. Wonderful way to end the evening.

  4. Hi Brenda (it’s me again!),
    Just wanted to wish you a great weekend and safe drive!

  5. Hey Brenda,

    Nice post. It’s great to see you on Blotanical. Many welcomes.~~Dee

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