In the 1600’s there was an actual "language" of flowers used in Turkey allowing specific messages sent of great importance through a seemingly harmless bouquet. Flowers could declare intentions, indicate acceptance, announce dismissal or even arrange a rendezvous. Flowers gained meanings which enabled lovers to convey messages to each other without having to write or talk. The passing of messages via the floral code was then adopted by the French, and returned to England during the reign of Queen Victoria.
While Shakespeare eludes to the meaning of plants and flowers in some of his writing at an earlier time, the language of flowers was widely introduced to Europe by a Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, a popular letter-writer and society poet who accompanied her husband to the Turkish Court in Istanbul, in 1716. During her stay, she sent a Turkish love letter to England which interpreted the meanings of some plants, flowers, and spices. Flowers, she proposed, could convey words and messages of love - even altercations - could be passed in a refined and subtle manner.
Mme. Charlotte de la Tour wrote the first flower dictionary in 1818 in Paris. Entitled Le Language des Fleurs, and was very popular.. A Victorian lady, Miss Corruthers of Inverness, wrote a book on the subject in 1879. Her book became the standard for flower symbolism both in England and the United States
We still use flowers today to tell our sweethearts we love them, express our get-well wishes, share in the grief of others, celebrate our birthdays, anniversaries, congratulate others and honor our mothers. We choose flowers based on their beauty or their scent, but perhaps with a little help we can revive the romance of the secret language of flowers and make our selections that much more special!