100 Words #365 - The Stories Flowers Tell

Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching, and whether I like it or not, I'm knee deep in it already. There are buckets and buckets of roses jamming up the cooler, and every single one will pass through our hands this week to have its thorns carefully removed, to have its petals inspected, and to be arranged, or wrapped, or boxed before heading out the door to someone's sweetheart as a message of love. 

Floriology - the language of flowers - is traced back as far as biblical times, but it was the Victorians who, as with so many other things, elevated it to a level of ornate complexity. Flowers were used to send encrypted messages that were decoded through the use of published flower dictionaries. 

The popularity of a dozen red roses stems from this early floriography. Red roses symbolize love, passionate love even, and a dozen of them are translated as "be mine". 

Dozen Red Roses Profile.jpg

"The floriography craze was introduced to Europe by two people: Englishwoman Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), who brought it to England in 1717, and Aubry de la Mottray (1674-1743), who introduced it to the Swedish court in 1727. Joseph Hammer-Pugstall's Dictionnaire du language des fleurs (1809) appears to be the first published list associating flowers with symbolic definitions, while the first dictionary of floriography appears in 1819 when Louise Cortambert, writing under the pen name 'Madame Charlotte de la Tour,' wrote Le Language des Fleurs~Wikipedia 

Photo source: http://www.zvab.com/buch-suchen/textsuche/le-langage-des-fleurs

Photo source: http://www.zvab.com/buch-suchen/textsuche/le-langage-des-fleurs

I must get my hands on one of these, though I will be forced to brush up on my french. My very dusty french.

Other dictionaries were published over the course of the popularity of Floriology, and one would hope there was enough consistency that the wrong message wasn't received when suitor and suited possessed a different book.

Aside from the type of flower, and color, meanings were attributed to maturity of bloom, how arranged, and even the number of highly symbolic flowers such as the rose. I found the following at Santa Monica Flowers (though they don't list the source): 

Single bloom red Rose – Love at first sight or I still love you

Single Rose, any color – Gratitude or simplicity

2 Roses – Mutual feelings

3 Roses – I love you

7 Roses – I’m infatuated with you

9 Roses – We’ll be together forever

10 Roses – You are perfect

11 Roses – You are my treasured one

12 Roses – Be mine

13 Roses – Friends forever

15 Roses – I’m truly sorry

20 Roses – I’m truly sincere towards you

21 Roses – I’m dedicated to you

24 Roses – Forever yours

25 Roses – Congratulations

50 Roses – Unconditional love

99 Roses – I will love you all the days of my life

108 Roses – Will you marry me?

999 Roses – I love you till the end of time

My favorite is the subtle, yet quite big difference between 99 and 999 roses, and that only those with the wallet to match it can afford to love to infinity.  

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You word this week, if you haven't already guessed, is: 

ROSE

Those of you of the cynical persuasion can feel free to focus on the thornier aspects of the specimen.

Dig deep, write well, and see you next week. 

P.S. I gave you an extra day, so linkytools will close Sunday at midnight.