A Chinese contact I talked to today mentioned that he gave his girlfriend 11 red roses yesterday. I asked whether the number of roses had any significance, and he told that it stand for “一心一意” (one heart, one desire). This got me think about the meanings attached to different flowers.
I found a site about ‘the language of flowers‘, which explains the meanings of a variety of flowers. Apparently during the Victorian age (1837-1901), a knowledge of floriography, as it was called, was as important to people as being ‘well dressed’. It wasn’t just the variety of flower that carried a meaning, but the number, colour and arrangement, and also the way they were presented – giving a flower with the right hand signified ‘yes’, while giving one with the left hand signified ‘no’, for example.
Here are a few examples: red roses signified love, respect and/or beauty; yellow roses joy, jealousy, friendship (one yellow rose with 11 red ones meant love & passion); orange roses fascination; and deep red roses bashfulness or shame. A single cherry blossom stood for education; a white chrysanthemum for truth; lupine for imagination; and a shamrock for lightheartedness.