Mandy Kirkby

The Language of Flowers: A Miscellany

“We plant, we nurture, we grow and we give, different flowers for different moments in time, but all the same purpose: to say that which cannot be said, and to say it with beauty and with grace.”

The Language of Flowers: A Miscellany is a bright, tempting book on the history and meaning of flowers. The original Le Language des Fleurs, by Charlotte de Latour was published in 1819. This modest work revitalized the language of flowers, drawing on Classical references and modern meanings.

The language of flowers contains deeply human elements: Basil means hate, anemone means forsaken. A dahlia signifies dignity, a daisy speaks innocence. Symbols adhere to the flowers’ characteristics; when it blooms, appearance, even robustness. Anyone familiar with ivy understands why it means “fidelity.” It clings and adheres beyond reason. A large plant on our street is separate from its roots and still it climbs the library wall.

Throughout human history we’ve endowed flowers with meaning, because they are comforting companions we keep nearby. This book is a wonderful companion as well.