Hearts talk the language of flowers

He loves me

He loves me not

He loves me.


When plucking flower petals one by one, the last petal remaining represents whether the object of one’s desire reciprocates the sentiment. This whimsical game of love is simple flower symbolism.

For centuries flowers have represented heartfelt emotions. Those emotions become public on Valentine’s Day, when celebrations of love and affection abound.

“It’s one of our busiest days of the year,” said Carol Dunne, owner and floral designer at Ponoka’s Flowers For You in central Alberta.

Dunne, who’s had the business for 16 of her 30 years in the industry, said only Mother’s Day equals the rush on Valentine’s Day, when staff more than doubles, up to 13.

“I’m often here at 5 a.m. on Valentine’s Day.”

Dunne said sales top 100 orders. For a town of 7,000 with local competitors and flower shops in nearby cities she’s pleased with that.

One of Dunne’s floral designers, Michelle Trudeau, who has over 20 years in the industry, agrees with Dunne that the top selling flower, making up 75 percent of sales on Valentine’s Day, is the red rose.

Along with poems and stories of love found and love lost, entire books have been dedicated to flori-ography, the language of flowers.

Floriography became popular during the Victorian Era in England (through the reign of Queen Victoria, 1837-1901), when etiquette, particularly among the upper class, deemed open communication around certain topics and social situations to be inappropriate.

Communication through the use or arrangement of flowers became popular to express what one was unable to verbalize.

Meanings and messages were based on myths, traditions, medical uses, and at times simply one’s imagination.

An example is the tussie-mussie, a small, tightly composed hand-held bouquet, which was given as a gift or to mark a special occasion.

The relayed message was in how the tussie-mussie was held. At heart level, it spoke acceptance. If held pointed down, it screamed rejection. Today’s bridal bouquets, although larger, are modern examples of the tussie-mussie.

While many of the meanings associated with specific flowers have been forgotten most people still associate a single red rose with true love, romance and passion.

Also, the appropriately named forget-me-not is regarded as a flower sent when someone is missed.

Dunne said that today’s buyers are generally in search of what is simply pleasing to them or a known favourite of the receiver.

‘It doesn’t really matter what flower they select”, she said, “The message is clear when it comes from the heart.”

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