Make the hidden language of flowers work for you

The people of the Victorian era communicated secret messages to friends and lovers in flowers.
The people of the Victorian era communicated secret messages to friends and lovers in flowers. Rayes

A LITTLE girl trying to grow flowers on Earth after they have all died is the crux of an Aboriginal story about the creation of the flannel blossom. The Sydney north shore native plant is also one of author Cheralyn Darcey's favourite flowers.

She said the Aboriginal story connected with the bloom's wider meaning well.

"They're a flower of close relationships, intimacy and healing, and sharing those healing pathways for people," she said.

"I find it quite delightful that those are the types of meanings."

The author, 52, who has spent more than 30 years researching and teaching others the healing properties of plants, said the hidden language of flowers was once again gaining popularity.

"All flowers and plants have a meaning and these indicate their usage," Cheralyn said.

"We're becoming more interested in the natural world because we're losing so much of it. And people who become more interested and active in it, the word spreads."


An Australian postage stamp with flannel flowers on white background.
An Australian postage stamp with flannel flowers on white background. Flavia Morlachetti

Cheralyn said people of the Victorian period (1837-1901) made the "language'' of flowers extremely popular. Blooms were used for secret messages between friends and lovers, and even between enemies.

"It was a time when communication between people was dictated by social standing and morals and things like that," Cheralyn said.

"It was used as a code, to pass messages on to each other."

Flowers were also used in their jewellery, furnishings, artworks, textiles, and in gardens and floral displays.

Cheralyn said not many people of the Victorian era would dream of organising a dinner centrepiece without careful consideration of the meanings of each blossom.

"In Victorian times it was that fascination with the connection with science and nature, and the arts as well," she said.

"The Victorians did quite well to link all these things up and find these meanings of flowers, which were connected with herbalism at the time. And then they expanded on it with their poetic nature."

Cheralyn said in the past the meanings of flowers were commonly known.

"But these days, unfortunately, the closest that many people come to a chamomile flower will be chopped up in a tea blend," she said.

She said she found the messages of flowers comforting in times of grief and stress.

"I had a really hard time when my grandmother passed away... we were very close. I had to move at the time and I had to move to a smaller place and I wasn't happy," Cheralyn said.

She said the home had a barren backyard and she wanted to plant things.

"This one tiny plant came up. It was a gardenia, her favourite flower. And they usually don't grow like that. They mean awareness and messages from those who've passed on."

When choosing a bunch of blooms for someone else, it is important to think of them for a minute before walking into a florist's shop.

"A problem with most people is they choose what they like and what they need," Cheralyn said.


"If the (recipient's) a really bright and happy personality and they are feeling sick or a bit down, maybe a bunch of sunflowers would be fantastic.

"It's not too hard to connect. Look at the flowers, they'll tell you."


NEW JOB - Delphiniums mean new opportunities, possibilities and even leadership, so they are good to use as gifts or decoration when seeking a new job as well as celebrating landing one.


HOSPITAL VISIT - Sunflowers are wonderful flowers for those who are unwell or facing health challenges. They mean strength, happiness, confidence and generally "get well soon".


BIRTHDAY - Gerberas are the perfect birthday flower. They mean happiness, celebration, appreciation and wishes for a happy life.


HOUSE WARMING - Cornflowers are wonderful to add to an occasion celebrating a new home because they speak of protection, new home blessings and new friendships.


FUNERAL - These are very personal occasions but should you wish to give flowers which offer support then heartsease are a compassionate way to say that you are thinking of those affected and that you are there for them.


WEDDING - If you would like to give flowers to someone to celebrate news of a wedding then you might consider a flowering cactus. They mean love which will always endure.


Cheralyn Darcey is the author of Flowerpaedia, 1000 flowers and their meanings.
Cheralyn Darcey is the author of Flowerpaedia, 1000 flowers and their meanings. Contributed

Cheralyn Darcey is the author of Flowerpaedia, 1000 flowers and their meanings (Rockpool Publishing $24.99) available on April 1.

Topics:  blooms book flowers

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