Did you know flowers tell stories? 

There was a time when individuals grew and exchanged flowers to send decoded messages to one another.  The symbolism of flowers and their meaning can be found throughout history in many cultures worldwide.  Flowers are part of every important milestone in our lives, birthdays, graduation, recitals and plays, wedding, and funerals. There has been a long-standing connection between our feelings and flowers – we share them for joy, sympathy, love, and friendship. I propose we bring back those hidden messages and resurrect those ancient rituals for special moments, so that on those important days, we can intimately tell our stories with flowers.


Imagine selecting your wedding flowers using your message as the guide!  Let me show you what I mean.  The words, “We share our deepest desires, most treasured dreams, and our meaningful secrets,” translate to a bouquet with lisianthus and ivy for romantic desire, poppy for dreams, and ranunculus for meaningful secrets.

Here’s another, my favorite from last spring. “Let’s have fun, be a little devious, and create some memories.” That bouquet would include nasturtium (fun challenges), snapdragon (deviousness), and poppy (memory).  Looking at these blooms, you can see how fun and whimsical they appear, depicting the message perfectly.

“May courage, love (red rose), resilience (dahlia), and beauty (cosmos) bring you good luck and fortune (goldenrod).”

You may also find that your favorite flowers speak to you beyond their precious petals and attractive colors. One of my most treasured stems is the delicate whimsical cosmos – this was one of the first annual flowers I grew from seed. It’s an understated flower that adds so much movement and airiness to a design. On its own, it is confident and free-spirited with bold petals and long wild stems. There are a few meanings for this petite bloom, including peace, tranquility, beauty, and love. It also represents coherency and orderly, which is a bit of a juxtaposition from its appearance and how it grows.


There are countless examples of how flowers illustrate their meaning in nature.  Dahlias are hearty plants grown from a tuber. A tuber is very similar to a bulb, except long and sweet potato-like. Their tubers multiply year after year, cloning their tall, audacious blooms. They come in countless varieties with numerous bloom structures and every color imaginable. The tubers can be potted to grow sprouts that will, in turn, create new tubers of its host bloom. In just a few years you could fill rows and fields with your favorite varieties.  Feeling creative? Let your dahlias dry and go to seed! Planting the seeds from this amazing flower will create a completely unique variety. Wondering what this beloved flower means?  As demonstrated in its natural characteristics, it represents confidence, creativity, and inner strength.

Sunflowers are about strength and happiness. Black-eyed Susan represents encouragement, motivation, and inspiration. The meaning of roses are dependent on their colors. Peach or apricot means appreciation, sincerity and “I want to be with you”.  White roses are truth, protection, and honesty.  I could go on and on.

There are several books and reference materials available to decode and create your own floral story. Several provide the history of the flower and the evolution of their meaning, and examples of use in literature and art can also be found. My go-to reference guide is Flowerpedia by Cheralyn Darcy; her book is formatted as a quick reference which makes it ideal for creating stories. Cheralyn is an environmental artist and teacher with over thirty years of experience in studying the relationship between people and plants. As I have expanded my flower garden and continue to spend countless hours planting, maintaining, and cutting flowers, I am just beginning to understand this connection. The first section of the book is meanings. If you know what you want to say, you can look up the words and find the applicable flower(s). The second section is flowers. If you have a specific flower in mind, you can look them up and find its meaning. 

 You can also Google the meaning of most flowers or use the app “Picture This” (I use the free version) to find poetry and the name story of the blooms in your garden. 


Next time you order flowers or consider expanding your garden, I recommend exploring just a few of their meanings.  If you’re a flower lover like I am, you will deepen your affection and develop an even greater respect for nature and flowers.