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  • Writer's pictureClyve Rose

Floriography: Secret, Scented Messages

I have some exciting news that I can't share with you yet. (I know, but orders are orders, and I’m not one to tell tales.) I do give you my word, though, as a lady and a scurrilous gossip, to reveal all as soon as my publisher gives me leave. However, as I’m not one for romantic suspense, I feel it only right to let slip a few clues...so I went looking back at the most Regency way to convey secret messages. How did our ladies and gentlemen drop their gentle hints?


After all, there were military intelligence operatives operating on behalf of the British Crown throughout the Napoleonic Wars, and through all the courts of continental Europe (these gentlemen predated James Bond and were likely twice as ruthless). Then there were all the other secret shenanigans going on in the 1800s. One of these secretive methods would surely yield up a way for me to drop a hint in your ear dear readers…for example, have you heard of the secret language of flowers?


Madame Charlotte:

The first dictionary of floriography was called Le Language des Fleurs. As you've likely gathered, the author was French. Her name was Louise Contambert, writing under the pen name Madame Charlotte de la Tour. In 1819, she crafted a list of flowers alongside their symbolic definitions. Sending messages via blooms and blossoms proved popular in Europe, spread to England, and thence to the United States. Many other versions were produced - one running ton 522 pages (after all, there are a lot of flowers out there!) Nevertheless, some of the more common messages - and blooms - have become standards of floral communication.

Floriography in the Regency Era:

Floriography is often associated with Victorian times but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest it was used during Regency times as well. With so many secret assignations going on, and lovers’ trysts all over the place, it seems one could hardly pass an obliging hedgerow in Regency England without stumbling over a secret sign, or a couple ‘at it’ behind the trees. Not all the meanings were the same across all of England, but it seems a fine way to let you know, and keep my promise (Sssh…).


Below are just a few of the blooms you might use to convey your feelings to an illicit lover, depending on your situation (and theirs, of course):


Wild rose: Pleasure and pain.

Pansies: Thinking of you.

Yellow marguerite: I’ll come and see you soon.

Canterbury Bell: Your letter was received.

White Lily: My love is pure.

Iris: I’ve sent a message.

Daisy: I love you truly / only.

Red carnation: My heart aches for you.

Apple Blossom: I choose you over others.

Narcissus: When may I see you again?

White rose: I cannot (usually in answer to a question posed by the gift of a narcissus).

Poppy: I am not free / we are discovered.

Cornflower: Be gentle with me.

Hyacinth: Your loveliness charms me.

Pink: Yes.

Red tulip: I declare my love.

Honeysuckle: Devoted affection.

So, your clue? Look below.

 I’ll post the answer at the same time as my next post.





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