The Victorian Tradition of Flower Giving

Brett McKay founded the Art of Manliness in 2008 and has grown it into the largest independent men’s interest magazine on the web.

Who doesn’t love being surprised by flowers? Whether you’re on your first date or in a life-long relationship, receiving flowers makes your heart skip a beat. Learn all about flowers and their meanings from authors of THE ART OF MANLINESS, Brett and Kate McKay.

Giving a woman flowers is a standard romantic gesture that can help you woo women. But it has unfortunately become a pretty ho-hum cliché. Instead of giving your lady flowers like every other schmo out there, try resurrecting the Victorian tradition of giving flowers. It will infuse the gesture with new life and romance and bring back some of the subtlety, mystery and fun of courtship.

During the Victorian era, a whole romantic language developed around the giving and receiving of flowers. Everything from the type and size of the flower to the way it was held or presented conveyed layers of meaning and communicated a gentleman’s feelings and intentions. Each bouquet contained a secret message for a lady to eagerly interpret and endlessly dissect.

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The Art of Manliness

by Brett McKay

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Your lady will swoon that you put far more thought into your selection of flowers than grabbing a bouquet out of the case at Wal-Mart. You’ll come off as a real gentleman and a hopeless romantic. Of course, the language of flowers now lies next to Latin in the graveyard of dead discourse. Even in Victorian times, flower meanings were never set in stone and varied from dictionary to dictionary. Therefore, for this tradition to work, you and your love must be using the same source. (You don’t want to send a bouquet meant to declare your love and have her interpret it as a message of rejection!) So use the flower list below as your dictionary, and give the cut-out card included in the back to your lady.

Here’s a partial list of meanings to help you get started. Follow them, and you’ll need smelling salts to revive your date when she swoons for you.

  • Ambrosia—Your love is reciprocated
  • Baby’s Breath—Our love is innocent
  • Camellia, pink—I long for you
  • Camellia, red—You’re a flame in my heart
  • Camellia, white—You’re adorable
  • Carnation, pink—I will never forget you
  • Carnation, red—My heart aches for you
  • Carnation, white—My love is pure
  • Chrysanthemum, red—I love you
  • Daffodil—Your feelings are unrequited
  • Daisy—Love conquers all
  • Forget-me-not—Remember me forever
  • Forsythia—I can’t wait to see you again
  • Geranium—I messed up
  • Gloxinia—It was love at first sight
  • Hyacinth, purple—I am sorry, please forgive me
  • Lilac, mauve—Do you still love me?
  • Lilac, white—You are my first love
  • Lily, calla—You are beautiful
  • Primrose—I can’t live without you
  • Rose, orange—I think about you all the time
  • Rose, pink—Please believe me
  • Rose, red—I am in passionately in love with you
  • Rose, red and white together—We’re united in our love for each other
  • Rose, white—You’re heavenly
  • Rose, yellow—Can we be friends?
  • Sweet Pea—I have to go; good-bye
  • Tulip, red—I’ve fallen in love with you
  • Tulip, yellow—There’s sunshine in your smile
  • Violet, blue—I will always be faithful
  • Violet, white—Let’s take a chance

Need some helpful dating tips? TV’s Mary and Rhonda share how to master the dating domain.

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