Sunday, May 26, 2013

Your Flowers Are Talking - What Do They Say About You?

I just finished reading this book called The Language of Flowers.  It was lent to our garden manager who passed it on to all of us gardeners and ex-gardeners.  We loved it and read it in a day or two.  It's addicting and dramatic and tugs on the heart strings (reading the summary on the back is almost enough to make you put it down because of just how cheesy it sounds, try to overcome).  It is simultaneously light and intense at the same time.  Light in the sense that the structure is simple and not so subtle.  But it deals with heartbreaking topics like homelessness, foster care, single parenthood and basic human suffering, all with parallel experiences of natural beauty.
Yellow Rose - infidelity or jealousy
(this is a recurring image in the book)
              We first meet the central character, Victoria Jones, as she is leaving her final group home in San Francisco at the age of 18.  We quickly learn that she has anger and violence issues and has had no easy time since birth when her mother abandoned her.  The story follows her as she tries to figure out what to do with this new life, while having no high school diploma, no family, a case worker she evades when possible, and her only "skill" is a love of flowers, a scientific understanding of their growth and a thorough understanding of the ancient "language of flowers."  This relationship with flowers adds a beautiful tone to the novel as they often serve as a mode of communication or at least a time of respite from a world she cannot always handle.
              The novel is told in alternating chapters of present time and past episodes of her life and slowly brings them closer together to explain how she learned about flowers and what went to so wrong at a time in her life when she almost had a home.  There is a love interest too and he is related to her past, which makes it all the more juicy and ripe as an opportunity to explore reconciliation.  While she struggles to find her place in a world that has been hostile, she is lucky enough to encounter several supportive figures who love her in a way she was never able to love herself.  Great read!
              Seeing that I live next to a most amazing garden myself, I thought I would explore what our flowers say.  The book comes with an appendix of a flower dictionary.  I took to the garden with my notebook and a camera and here's what I found.
Iris - Message & Foxglove - Insincerity
Sweet Pea- Delicate pleasures
Peony - Anger

Camellia - My destiny is in your hands

Calalilly - Modesty
Poppy - Extravagance

This bouquet graces one of our altars.  Now of course, just because this language of flowers exists doesn't mean a flower or bouquet can't be appreciated simply for its magnificence.  This bouquet is beautiful and also could mean something very particular.  Orange roses mean "fascination," Dianthus (the red flower) means "make haste," and the Love-in-the-mist (blue flower) means "perplexity."  So perhaps if you had a flirtation going on with someone but the signs were confusing and you didn't know where it was going, this bouquet could say "I am fascinated and perplexed so please tell me your intentions." Or, "you're giving me mixed signals so 'shit or get off the pot'!"

1 comment:

  1. Now I'm trying to decypher the bouquet that you and Austin brought last week. I'm not making much progress... any clue?