I first discovered the language of flowers in Germany in 1977 while planning my wedding. At the time, brides in the United States weren’t aware of, or didn’t pay much attention to, the meaning of flowers—but Europeans did. I was told in no uncertain terms that I could not use yellow roses in my bouquet. Yellow roses symbolize jealousy and infidelity. The marriage didn’t last, but my interest in how flowers can convey a message did.
Years later, when I became a writer, I was finally able to incorporate this knowledge into my work. And I’ve always been careful to ensure my hero sends the right message. Historically, if a gentleman wished to tell a lady what he thought of her, how would he accomplish his goal? During the Regency period in the United Kingdom, he would have to be formally introduced to a lady before sending her flowers. A parent or guardian would have first glimpse of the note sent with the flowers, hence the need for unspoken meaning to convey his true affections.
It was not until the Victorian era that the language of flowers reached its zenith. Here are some blooms and their most common meanings during the Regency:
Apple blossom: preference
Daffodil: I regard you
Love-in-a-mist: you puzzle me
Morning Glory: affection
Myrtle: love and marriage
Roses, among the most expensive flowers, connoted a whole range of meanings depending on their color and how many were sent. During the Regency era, the three most common colors were red, pink, and yellow; a wider spectrum of hues would be developed later in the century.
Here is a list of roses and their meanings during the Regency:
• Red meant the man was passionately in love.
• Pink symbolized grace, sophistication, and elegance. It also stood for the beginning of a relationship, something a little less full-blown than the red rose.
• Burgundy signified simplicity and beauty.
• The aforementioned yellow rose meant jealousy and infidelity.
Perhaps because there were not many different shades, the type of rose was also important. Bear in mind that cultivars were also limited. Here are some examples of roses and their meanings:
• The musk rose told a lady, You are charming.
• The China rose represented grace or lasting beauty.
• The damask rose celebrated purity.
• The dog or rugosa rose, a thorny variety, indicated pleasure mixed with pain.
• A faded rose meant that beauty was fleeting.
• The Provence rose said, My heart is in flames.
Woe to the young man who sent a bouquet to the young lady without taking the meaning into consideration!
In my newest release, The Marquis and I (available now), my hero, the Marquis of Kenilworth, engages in a flower war with another suitor for Lady Charlotte Carpenter’s hand. While the other suitor selects every kind of bouquet he can find, Kenilworth sends only pink Provence roses mixed with ivy and nigella. Clearly, he was sending the right message.
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Ella Quinn’s previous jobs and studies have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, was her escape. Eventually, her love of historical novels led her to try her hand at writing them. She and her husband live on a sailboat, cruising the Caribbean and North American waters. She loves having readers connect with her.