I have always been fascinated by the Victorian language of flowers. By the idea that a bundle of fragrant Narcissus left surreptitiously on a doorstep meant unrequited love, while a single sprig of Oleander was a clear warning that the recipient should be very cautious. Acacias were for friendship, Melianthus for secrets, Hyacinths to beg forgiveness. Red Roses only if you were really serious about someone.
In an era when courtship was largely relegated to calling cards and chaperoned dances, flowers provided a covert way for lovers to make their true feelings known. And though the Victorian's obsession with floriography played a major role in it's popularity, they were by no means the first to attribute symbolic meanings to different plants. Many ancient cultures, including the Greeks and Egyptians, documented complex systems and symbols associated with the flora around them. Even Shakespeare was fluent in the language of flowers, as we see time and time again, most notably in Ophelia's famous speech, "There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts...There’s fennel for you, and columbines..." (if you haven't read it, she goes on to slowly unravel while dancing with flowers and it's pretty much my favorite scene in all of Shakespeare.)
So for this year for Valentines, I teamed up with the wonderful Melissa Emily of Earth Within Flowers to create a conscious and intentional love token. Melissa sources all of her flowers from local farmers in the summer months, then dries them by hand for winter bouquets. What a lovely and earth-friendly alternative to the standard cellophane wrapped blooms we so often see piled into supermarkets this time of year.
We wanted to create an arrangement that held layered messages and deep symbolism. Something that was thoughtful and seasonal. A floral love spell, of sorts. Each of these plants was chosen for it's heart opening and protective properties. A secret message of love and protection for your parter / mom / lover / kids / sister / bestie / self. ❤
Please note that even though we used dried blooms, you could easily create a similar arrangement with live flowers if that's more your speed. Just look up the traditional meaning and symbolism behind each stem to create your own secret love spell.
Step 1 :: Start by creating a horizontal, rounded shape with branching foliage. Here we used eucalyptus and locally foraged juniper, which are both believed to provide protection.
Step 2 :: Next, add in your filler flowers. Anything that has sprays of multiple buds on the same stem works beautifully for this. Try to fill in the gaps between your foliage. We incorporated local yarrow for courage, lavender for serenity + devotion, and white larkspur for lightness + laughter.
Step 3 :: Next, pop in your focal flowers. We chose these sweet little peach and pink spray roses for love + desire.
Step 4 :: The final step is to add in your "sparkle" flowers. These are pointed or uniquely shaped blooms that add interest and texture to your piece. Here we chose tulip pods, traditionally associated with declarations of love, and poppy pods for magical dreams. And that's it, dear ones! All that's left is to bundle up your floral love spell with a simple ribbon and handwritten note with the symbolism of each bloom.