XXX flowers = XXX meanings
From a time immemorial to our contemporary souls today, flowers have been alluded meanings by ancient traditions and folk cultures. Perhaps back then when people were not quite as preoccupied with work, school and modern-day shenanigans, they could afford the luxury of time to compose mythical narratives and concoct imaginative parables, creating the notion of flower symbolism that we know of today. While some lexical semantics have faded in tandem with history, others have withstood the test of time and continue to be memorialised and perpetuated amongst flower-lovers or anthophiles (a term to describe people who adore flowers, apparently) today.
As far as romanticism is concerned, a significant lot of flowers have been accorded with metaphors for love, affection and adoration. Love can be interpreted in a multitude of ways — love for a partner, love for friends and love for family — which resultantly, opens up a plethora of different flowers symbolising the varying spectrums of love.
Overwhelmed yet? Fret not.
If you’re reading this article, then I might carefully assume that you’re seeking to educate yourself on the variegated mélange of floras before buying any (because God forbid I unintentionally buy a romantic flower meant for a friend — awkward). Well then in this article I shall attempt to decipher historical tales and floral connotations so that you don’t have to, and you can be on your way to craft the perfect flower bouquet assortment that will symbolise love, yet not have them come across as one of the typical ‘Top 10 flowers Singaporeans buy’.
For your ‘BB’
Typically associated with their light purple hues, lilacs have been said to symbolise spring and renewal in relation to their early bloom times. According to Greek mythology, the lilac was also attributed with a love story. In short, a God (named Pan) fell in love with Syringa (a nymph) and helplessly pursued her. Unfortunately, she was terrified of him and disguised herself as a lilac (wow, anticlimactic but arguably still a better love story than Twilight).
If you’re thinking of gifting your date lilacs, you may want to choose the highly-sought after light purple lilacs which symbolise ‘first love’. If you’re thinking of taking your relationship to the next level, pick the magenta lilacs, for they represent ‘strong love and passion’.
Extra perk: Lilacs are incredibly sweet-smelling and are often used in aromatherapy as essential oil
Hailing from China, the camellia flower too has a story of her own. The intricate folds and layering of petals signify the woman, whereas the bottom leaves encircling and enclosing the petals represent the man. The man (leaves) protect the woman (petals) from the elements of weather and remain stuck together even after withering (till death do them apart, as they say).
This romantic bloom typically comes in three colours — all of which typify love. The white camellia symbolises adoration for someone you like, the pink camellia symbolises feelings of yearning and longing, and the red camellia symbolises deep passion and desire. Depending on the gradation of your relationship, the camellia flower too has a corresponding spectrum of intensifying shades.
Fun fact: Camellias have tons of health benefits such as antioxidants (so that’s why there are camellia-infused face masks)
‘Forget me… Forget me not… Forget me… Forget me not…’ Sounds familiar? This azure blue flower holds a variety of tales that typically draw back to similar love stories. One tale depicts the story of a man who died trying to gift the flowers to his sweetheart, his last words being ‘forget me not’. For the devout Christians, the flower was given its name by God himself in the Garden of Eden.
If you want to subtly remind your partner of your existence, ask your Singapore florist to add a bunch of forget-me-nots in your bouquet. But just a caveat, please remind them not to ingest these flowers, as they are poisonous, and I’m sure we don’t need a re-enactment of another fateful love story.
The physical anatomy of the daisy is in fact, the most telling of an idyllic romance presented by nature itself. Did you know that the daisy is actually a composite flower made up of two flowers conflated to look like a single flower? Just like two people hugging with their chests held together and baring their hearts wide open, the overlapping and layered petals of the daisy one on top of the other fully encompasses the symbol of love and where two lives entwine into one.
Daisies represent youth and purity, amongst love and passion for your significant other. This flower would be perfect for young couples just starting out in their new relationships. ‘Fresh as a daisy’ they say.
Can we really talk about romantic flowers without mentioning the rose? The language of the red rose almost literally says ‘I love you’. Everyone knows that; but how many people know what the yellow rose or the blue rose signifies?
To put things simply, if you’re intending to try something different from the conventional red, consider getting lavender roses which expresses ‘love at first sight’ or blue roses, which embody the message of ‘I can’t stop thinking about you’. And if you’re not sure what you’re feeling but you still want to tell them that you like them, you can curate a rose bouquet assortment of mixed-colour roses. If at the end of the day, you still prefer the conventional route, remember the magical number of 12.
La vie en rose.
For your fams
6. Baby’s Breath
Also known as the gypsophila, the baby’s breath is by far, according to my research and responses solicited from my Singaporean circle of friends, the most highly popularised and purchased flowers. Previously regarded as filler flowers, the baby’s breath has now punched above its weight and made its mark as the main flower in bouquets trending all over social media.
Needless to say, the white baby’s breath is the most highly sought-after. It represents sincerity, trust and love and is arguably a sure-win flower with any family member. If you want to ‘zng up’ your bouquet, you can choose baby’s breath dyed in all sorts of colours including red, pink, blue and yellow.
Frankly, its pure white lacy outlook is all it needs to sell itself, nuff said.
The hyacinth comes in a myriad of colours including pink, burgundy, yellow white, with the most popular being deep magenta. As with all other flowers, different colours of hyacinths signify different meanings and can be employed in different situations.
Particularly during this circuit breaker period where families are forced to inhabit the same space for prolonged periods of time, it would be unsurprising and inevitable that arguments break out. At this time, please put into play the purple hyacinth card in your bouquet deliveries. The purple bloom symbolises deep regret and your desire to ask for forgiveness — as a form of love and display of love for your family — despite scuffles that may emerge from time to time.
The Victorian tale goes that gardenias were given to people whom you want to express your feelings for, yet feel uncomfortable in doing so explicitly. Gardenias were then used as a replacement for embarrassing and difficult words. Much like how Asians invariably are with their families, we tend not to have ‘awkward’ conversations that bare our hearts as plainly as it is — as it makes us appear vulnerable, and therefore weak. We tend not to say ‘i love yous’ and ‘i’m sorrys’, instead replacing them with ‘have you eaten?’.
Well if you are an awkward Asian just like me, give your mother/father/sibling some Gardenias, and write a little note; make them happy while saving yourself some embarrassment — double win.
Commonly referred to as the flower of gods, early carnations were typically pink, although they are now seen to be in various shades of pink, white, yellow and red. If you’re looking for a flower for your mother, the pink carnation would be the perfect representation of motherly love. According to Christians, the carnation was discovered when Virgin Mary cried while watching Jesus carry the cross. The carnation grew from the tears she shed for her son, effectively drawing the association between the flower and a mother’s love.
To show your mother love and affection for all her sacrifices, the pink carnation would be perfect, as it represents gratitude and appreciation.
While there appears to be conflicting and multiple meanings and folk stories associated with the hydrangea, the relevant ones denote ideas of heartfelt emotion and sincerity. Because of their multifarious definitions, this allows their universal applicability in different situations and events.
Typically though, the hydrangea symbolises apologetic emotions hailing from the Japanese legend where an emperor gave hydrangeas to a girl to express his sincerity in apologising for neglecting her.
If you find yourself getting caught up in petty kerfuffle and falling-out with your family this season, consider getting them some pink hydrangeas to represent your heart and love for them, come what may.
For your amigos
Priding itself as the flower of friendship, the alstroemeria, also known as the Peruvian lily, is known for its deep symbolic meanings in relation to devotion, support and affection towards a friend. Considered a relatively modern flower, the alstroemeria conveys the simple message of your desire to always be there for your friend.
If you are looking for a flower to show some appreciation to your friend, consider getting pink or red shades of alstroemerias, as they represent deep warmth and affection. However, if you are getting flowers for a friend who has been feeling under the weather, choose yellow, white and blue tones to convey your concern and assurance that better days will soon come.
The zinnia has been recognised for being a tough flower, simply because it blooms for ages and can withstand the elements of weather from early summer to winter. Owing to its strength and endurance, the flower is used to symbolise everlasting and resilient friendship ties and bonds.
In this period where our friends are nothing beyond moving imageries on flat screens, the zinnia flower would perfectly convey your thoughts that despite them being out of sight, they are definitely not out of your mind (and heart). You can get a mixed colour bouquet of zinnias, to represent your constant support and love for a friend, even during a time where everything seems bleak.
The sunflower is a universal definition for brightness and sunshine. When one looks at the sunflower, the mood is instantly lifted. Very much paralleling its external outlook, sunflowers symbolise vibrancy, good luck, admiration and platonic love. Sunflowers are in fact, extra popular in Singapore, where many students snag them in bouquets to gift their friends during graduation ceremonies or to commemorate the opening of a new shop.
It’s really quite hard to go wrong with the sunflower. Just make sure you get one that has a big face, to represent your undying love and massive support for that special friend of yours!
With a myriad of interpretations from different cultures, the iris flower is generally said to possess meanings of cherished friendships and loving relationships. According to Greek mythology, the iris means ‘rainbow’; to the Japanese, the iris is associated with purifying and cleansing abilities against evil; to the Chinese, the iris is then considered as a ‘dancing spirit’ as its petals drift delicately in the passing wind.
Essentially, the iris is a unique floral to add to your bouquet as all shades are emblems of strong and loving friendships, although blue irises specifically speaks greater feelings of hope and faith (perfect to boost a friend’s dampened spirit).
The gladiolus flower is particularly distinctive due to the curled edges of its petals and its pastel colours ranging from orange, red, purple, blue to yellow. Besides its aesthetic value that would make for perfect #instaworthy posts, the flower also symbolises remembrance, sincerity and for the recipient to ‘never give up’.
If you’re looking to send a friend some encouragement or birthday flowers, the gladiolus flower would be apt to add to your bouquet. The bloom would surely bring your bouquet up a notch with its dash of colour.
Love for you
The fact that you’ve read and stayed with me up till now; I admire your commitment and conviction. I’d say don’t worry too much about getting the ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ love flower for your partner/ family/ friend, for there surely isn’t a fixed or correct flower for each occasion or each person.
Consider instead what your recipient likes, or whatever you deem to be suitable for him/her.
That — as I see it — is love in itself.
please comment below if you have any questions. Thank you.
writer: Arissa Goh, 21, Singapore