00697-pk-p1“And pansies, that’s for thoughts.” Shakespeare preserved this information for us in Hamlet, and the floral industry keeps us abreast of what each color rose and tulip symbolizes. But beyond the blooms associated with special events — Easter lilies, Christmas Amaryllis — what can our choice of plants say to the people we care about?

Many of us are tucking a seed packet in with our holiday card this year. 01900-pk-p1It’s easier than it used to be, thanks to the popularity of decorated holiday cards — all those ribbons and crystals and such we can now put onto our cards make the envelope bulky and bumpy, just right for adding a seed packet into! If you are thinking of making this part of your holiday tradition, here’s a quick list of some flowers from seed that you may want to consider, based on their meaning in the language of flowers:

You would think that friendship would be better represented in the language of flowers, but alas, its symbol is ivy. So we must be more discerning in our compliments to our friends: for the lighthearted, fun-loving people in our lives, red Poppy signifies pleasure and Delphinium represents laughter and joy. Sweet Pea is focused on pleasure too, but it adds a note of gratitude 51117-pk-p1to the mix, perhaps more appropriate for that friend who watered your plants while you were on vacation or can always be counted on to slip you some geranium cuttings in October. One of our favorites is Coreopsis, which symbolizes cheerfulness, a prized character trait indeed. And finally, for harmony you must send Phlox.

If your message is more romantic than platonic, there are distinctions to be found as well. The innocent love of a child is best represented by Daisies, while pure love — for siblings, perhaps, or childhood friends — is symbolized by Forget-Me-Nots. Eternal love is represented by Primroses, while the Moonflower has the rather interesting message “dreaming of love.”00325-pk-p1

Then there are flowers that symbolize very specific feelings. Who would have guessed (certainly not us!) that Nasturtium stood for patriotism? Bells-of-Ireland is always associated with luck (no surprise there), while Bellflower represents gratitude, pure and simple. For those ambitious people in your life, Hollyhock is the mascot; for the unworldly, generous types, there is Sunflower. Send Bachelor’s Button to those embracing the joy of the single life, and Dahlia to ones who embody a dignified elegance. For a daintier, more delicate beauty, Aster is the flower to give.

About Sappho Charney

Sappho Charney is a garden writer living in Lubbock, Texas.

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