The Language of Flowers
For centuries, the symbolism of the hues and shapes of petals and stems has given shape to its own language. from the tradition of victorian records to japanese hanakotoba, much meaning has been ascribed to simple bouquet.
This Valentine’s Day, the co-founders of Spring Street Social Society have done the research for you, digging into the messages of the past and determining how to apply meaning for modern relationships.
Our picks for this year’s Valentine’s Day flower giving
Let’s face it, we’re living in the future, which means acknowledging the past, but ultimately knowing how to make it your own.
for your grandmother
Said to bring luck and protect against fragility, Anemone is best suited for a grandmother.
Don’t get us wrong: our grandmothers were of the feisty variety: tough, gritty, opinionated, self assured, hard working. We love the physical metaphor these flowers provide: the bloom is delicate, but the stem, the foundation, is sturdy. But at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to bring their grandma luck and protect her against fragility? Also, fun fact, the sea anemone is a predatory creature. Which, in our opinion, translates to #Cougar. Rawr.
FOR A SIBLING
For your sibling, we suggest Muscari (commonly called “grape hyacinth”) whose deep blue hues are commonly associated with power and confidence. But the Victorian meaning also ranges from sincerity and regret to the very specific “to play or engage in sport.” But let’s rewind: first of all, good on you for buying flowers for your sibling. And in this case, the traditional, seemingly contradictory meaning of the flower is entirely spot on. Who else in the world have you so openly loved and hated at the exact same time? Who else do you wish you’d treated better, but will still continue to treat the same for the rest of your life? And who, at the end of the day, was your forever playmate, in the backyard, on road trips, and at every family reunion, mostly because you had no other choice? So why not show that brother or sister that you actually do love them.
For your lover
Traditionally, the cultivated ranunculus implies charm and attraction, while the wild variety takes a u-turn, defined by “ingratitude.” In which case, what better flower for your lover? Say, for example, you have a more “uptight lover.” In that case, select the traditional ranunculus. Tightly wound, yet beautiful in how they unfold, with a touch of mystery at their core. Or perhaps your lover is on the loose side. We’ve got you covered. Go for the japanese ranunculus. Just as many layers, but more open and exposed for exploration. As far as the meaning of the flower, who doesn’t want their lover to be rich with charm and attraction? Though, we’ll let you determine whether or not to apply the second meaning...
FOR a friend
Known as the sensitive flower, the bright golden blooms of the mimosa mean bashful modesty. Let’s go ahead and agree to completely ignore the traditional meaning for the Mimosa. We get it, it’s important to have sensitive, modest friends, but let’s not necessarily encourage that. Our love for the mimosa has to do with brunch. Because what do you at brunch? Drink mimosas. And who do you brunch with? That’s right, your friends. These goofy pom pom flowers will surely bring a smile to any pal, and on the off chance that there’s a possibility of accidentally implying more than friendship by giving someone flowers, these will surely quell those thoughts, because these stems just scream “friend zone.”
The bodega bouquet
So let’s say you’ve run out of time to source the perfect, rich-with-meaning flower for your valentine. Instead, you’re left with slim pickings form the corner bodega or neighborhood grocery store. Never fear: since we’re throwing out the trappings of tradition, we’re left with clean palette from which to play. To give a great-looking bouquet in a pinch, here are a few quick tips to get you headed in the right direction.
Choose your color
Because bodega flowers are slim pickings, stick to shades of a single color to simplify the situation. For Valentine’s Day, I chose white—a color that is suitable for any recipient.
Within the chosen color palette, choose blooms that create a variety of texture—think density and size of blooms and a mix of delicate and stalky stems.
Limit your selection
You don’t need a million styles to make your arrangement look good. Choose three contrasting blooms as a foundation. Then, choose one more wildcard: a graceful stem that has length and can act as the proverbial feather in the bouquet’s cap.
No vase needed
If you’re in a hurry, you don’t even need to make a second stop for a flower vase. Grab a simple, short drinking glass—like a rocks glass—from your cupboard to use as the base for your arrangement.
A little flourish
After arranging the flowers, add one final touch: a few of those graceful stems to add a moment of height a drama to the bouquet.