What Does Your Garden Say?

More sunshine, less rain, and Memorial Day around the corner means that its time to plant and prime those outdoor spaces.

Although I lack a green thumb, I am a floral enthusiast. Bouquets of fresh flowers make my heart happy. I could spend hours at Longwood Gardens walking around and taking in the beauty. When Chris and I were in Paris, I remember how breathtaking the flower shops were. The doors were bursting at the seams with hundreds of flowers.

A few years ago, I was anonymously mailed the book, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The story introduced me to the world of floriography. In Victorian England and the US during the 19th century, bouquets of flowers were exchanged like secret codes to express feelings that were repressed. Many symbolized love, friendship, and happiness– but not all of the sentiments were positive!

Ever since I read that book, I constantly look up meanings of flowers and herbs. Below are some of my favorites that grow well where we live (zone 7) along with their meanings.

Peony – Happy Life, Bashfulness. Peonies are my all-time favorite flower. My grandmother had peonies and I remember looking forward to them blooming every year. The light pink petals and the sweet smell remind me of her love each year when ours bloom. They are so incredibly delicate but they put on such a show.

Hydrangeas – Understanding, Boastfulness, Heartlessness. The yin to my peonies’ yang. While the peonies bloom in late spring/early summer the hydrangeas bloom later in the season. Sometimes I throw coffee ground on them because I swear I read this can change the color of the blooms. Maybe someone knows if this is accurate?–again, no green thumb here!

Sunflowers – False Riches, Pride. I only recently grew an affinity for sunflowers. When we visited a field of sunflowers I was stunned with their big beautiful faces moving together in the wind. We made such sweet family memories in that field that they will hold a special place in my heart forever. Although their meaning isn’t positive, I suppose I understand it. They do stand tall with a look of pride – and they were, quite frankly, overpriced!

Lavender- Distrust. A funny story about lavender, I always adored the scent until I was pregnant with Celeste. For some reason, the scent was repulsive and I would plug my nose and run past them while I was walking by our garden. Luckily, lavender smells calming and tranquil to me again.

Sweet Basil- Good Wishes. Oh yes- many herbs were part of this secret language as well. Basil is one of my favorite herbs to grow and cook with because you can make it savory in a pasta dish or sweet in a dessert. It also preserves well.

I compiled a list of common flowers and herbs along with their meanings. Maybe next time you want to send a message to someone, you can use the language of flowers.

Basil (Sweet)Good Wishes
ChamomilePatience during hardships
HibiscusDelicate Beauty
HydrangeaUnderstanding, Boastfulness, Heartlessness
LilacYouthful Joy
Lily-of-the-ValleyPure Love
MagnoliaNature Love
PeonyBashful, Happy Life
Rose (Red)I Love You
Rose (Yellow)Decrease of love
SunflowerPride, False Riches
Yellow TulipSunshine smiling
ZinniaThinking of you

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