Victorian language of flowers redefines St Valentine’s Day offerings

Friday 7 February 2014

RHS inspires Interflora’s Creation of the Ultimate Love Bouquet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing says romance like a beautiful bouquet of flowers and this Valentine’s Day the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is feeling the love and offering floral inspiration to help people demonstrate how they feel about their loved ones.

Drawing on research by the RHS into the Victorian Language of Flowers Interflora has created the Ultimate Love Bouquet in time for Valentine’s Day. The RHS is also sharing how lovers can create their own romantic bouquet with British garden flowers.

RHS historians have identified flowers that encapsulate the meaning of love in all its forms. Expert Interflora florist David Ragg was inspired by the work of the RHS to create the unique bouquet that says ‘I love you’ in a multitude of ways. A percentage of funds raised from Interflora’s bouquet will go towards RHS charitable activities.

Of the 10 flower varieties that make up the Ultimate Love Bouquet, many have an association with love and affection going back thousands of years to ancient Greece, while others are rooted in the golden age of the language of flowers, the Victorian era.

Flowers in the Ultimate Love Bouquet include*:

Amaranth – unfading love
. The name amaranth also owes its name to ancient Greece, deriving from the Greek ἀμάραντος (amarantos) for ‘immortal’ or ‘unfading’. This flower represents the everlasting nature of love.

Chrysanthemum (red) – I love
. Arrived in Britain in the 19th century and due to its vivid red colour established itself alongside red roses as the ultimate floral representation of love.

Ivy – fidelity and friendship
. Ivy is a climbing plant that is strong and binding. These qualities help to explain its meaning of friendship and fidelity.

Lilac – the first emotions of love
. This fragrant flower has been intoxicating lovers since it was introduced to Britain in the 1500s.

Myrtle – love
. Myrtle and roses were considered sacred to Aphrodite and often feature in depictions of her. Myrtle was included in the wedding bouquet of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Red rose – beauty
. A rose has long been considered a symbol of love and beauty with its early association with Aphrodite, goddess of love.

Red tulip – declaration of love
. A gift of red tulips is regarded as a declaration of love, with the tulip's velvet-like dark centre representing a lover's heart.

Describing the bouquet David Ragg says: “The Ultimate Love Bouquet captures all the feelings and emotions of love. Whether it’s the deep velvety reds of the Grand Prix Roses or the sweet smelling Lilac, all the elements come together to portray a symphony of affection. The bouquet represents the very essence of sharing the emotion of love and with all the contrasting textures and playful use of colour I feel we have really embraced all that love is – exciting, unpredictable and captivating.”

Making your own love bouquet from garden flowers
For star struck lovers who would prefer to create their own bouquets, the RHS is also advising how to create their own love bouquet using British garden flowers.

RHS Chief Horticultural Advisor Guy Barter says: “There was a very long tradition of sweethearts giving posies of seasonal flowers picked from the garden in February. By using any combination of primroses, Japanese quince (temptation), snowdrops (joy to come), hellebores, dwarf narcissi, early irises, pansies (thoughts), violas and winter-flowering jasmine, combined with dainty sprigs of ivy (fidelity and friendship), hellebore, heather, or other evergreen foliage, gardeners can create their own bespoke St Valentine’s Day bouquet. “

The RHS is urging novice linguists to use caution when trying to communicate in the language of flowers, as seemingly minor misinterpretations can have unintended consequences.

While it is well known that a red rose is associated with love, few know that, in some books, a red rosebud with a full-blown rose over it can have the less positive meaning of secrecy. Colour also plays a major role in the language of flowers with changes in colour drastically altering the meaning. This is the case with hyacinths where the presentation of a white flower is a declaration of love, while giving a sweetheart a purple hyacinth means ‘I’m sorry’.

Perhaps the most extreme example of the subtlety of the language is that while ivy can mean fidelity and friendship, it also has a more permanent meaning – marriage.

RHS Art Librarian Charlotte Brooks says: “It is quite apt on St Valentine’s Day that one of the earliest recorded references to the language of flowers came from the capital of romance, Paris, in 1819. This first book really brought the language to public attention and allowed people to communicate really quite complicated messages and the full range of emotions with flowers.

“It is interesting that in our modern age flowers still have the power to convey quite subtle meanings that are generally understood by both giver and receiver. St Valentine’s Day is a real celebration of the longevity and power of the language of flowers.
 

-Ends-

Notes to editors

For more information on the Ultimate Love Bouquet or to purchase this gift for your loved one this Valentine’s Day please visit www.interflora.co.uk/ultimate-love-bouquet

For more information, please contact Garfield Myrie in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3060 or email garfieldmyrie@rhs.org.uk

For more information, please contact the Interflora Press Office on 0800 542 1891 or email pressenquiries@interflora.co.uk

The RHS has created a pinterest board providing information on how the romantic can create their own love bouquet of seasonal garden flowers. Use the following link to view the board: http://www.pinterest.com/rhshome/create-a-valentines-bouquet/

Images of the Ultimate Love Bouquet are available to download at www.photoshelter.com  
Please email the RHS Press Office at showspr@rhs.org.uk for instructions on how to create an account.

*Flowers in the Ultimate Love Bouquet :
Agapanthus – love flower
. This South African flower gets its name from the Greek word ἀγάπη (agape) meaning ‘love’ and ἄνθος (anthos) meaning ‘flower’

Amaranth – unfading love. The name amaranth also owes its name to ancient Greece, deriving from the Greek ἀμάραντος (amarantos) for ‘immortal’ or ‘unfading’. This flower represents the everlasting nature of love.

Chrysanthemum (red) – I love. Arrived in Britain in the 19th century and due to its vivid red colour established itself alongside red roses as the ultimate floral representation of love.

Ivy – fidelity and friendship. Ivy is a climbing plant that is strong and binding. These qualities help to explain its meaning of friendship and fidelity.

Lilac – the first emotions of love. This fragrant flower has been intoxicating lovers since it was introduced to Britain in the 1500s.

Myrtle – love. Myrtle and roses were considered sacred to Aphrodite and often feature in depictions of her. Myrtle was included in the wedding bouquet of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Pink Spray Rose – admiration/beauty. This rose is a 20thcentury hybrid that includes in its lineage the Rosa chinensis, which in the Victorian language of flowers means beauty always new.

Red rose – beauty. A rose has long been considered a symbol of love and beauty with its early association with Aphrodite, goddess of love.

Red tulip – declaration of love. A gift of red tulips is regarded as a declaration of love, with the tulip's velvet-like dark centre representing a lover's heart.

White hyacinth – unobtrusive loveliness
. Has its roots in Greek mythology and celebrates the quiet beauty and purity of love.

** The RHS seasonal British love bouquet:

Primroses
Snowdrops – joy to come
Ivy – fidelity and friendship
Irises
Dwarf narcissi
Heather

 

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 209 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join  

The RHS Lindley Library houses and cares for the finest collection of horticultural literature in the world, including a comprehensive collection of 19th-century books on the ‘Language of Flowers’. Researchers can consult these books by appointment. For more information call: 020 7821 3050 or visit www.rhs.org.uk/About-Us/RHS-Lindley-Library  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

About Interflora
Interflora is the world's largest and most popular flower delivery network with over 1,800 florists in the UK and Ireland and incorporating over 58,000 florists worldwide, delivering flowers to over 140 countries. Interflora has become synonymous with a concept that within a day or even a matter of hours a beautiful hand-created bouquet or gift can be personally delivered with style across the world.
 

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262