I had a friend in college who wrote an entire term paper on the Victorian language of flowers. “Did you know a snapdragon means presumptuous? A tuberose means pleasure? An orange blossom fertility?” were the kinds of questions that set the tone of our lunchtime conversations. Back in the olden days, floriography was a science, mainly consisting of young women practitioners who would rush home after receiving a bouquet to check the precise meaning of each bud. He loves me? He loves me not? Hope the boyfriend studied floriography too lest he mistakenly give the striped carnation of refusal instead of the lilac of first love. Fascinating stuff, that, so when I was recently trolling for a new read and spotted a novel called The Language of Flowers, I was compelled to take a look. The book beautifully tells the story of a young girl growing up in the foster care system, her only constant the flowers that she so dearly loves. She creates a whole world within the meaning of flowers, a world where flowers bring hope, love and ultimately redemption. If this book were a bouquet, it would consist of Amaryllis (dramatic), begonia (deep thoughts), hibiscus (delicate beauty) and Star of Bethlehem (hope). We may not speak the language of floriography these days, but The Language of Flowers is a parlance that will not soon be forgotten.
For our Bay Area readers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of The Language of Flowers will make an appearance at the Capitola Book Café on Thursday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m.