Flowers aren’t just beautiful—they can also send a message. “In the Victorian era and even long before that, flowers served as beautiful messengers that whispered what often could not be spoken aloud,” write Leigh Okies and Lisa McGuinness in their new book, Meaningful Bouquets. From anticipation and affection to forgiveness and friendship, a bouquet of flowers can help you speak to a family member or friend in a new way. “[In the Victorian era], they were the equivalent of clandestine text messages or notes of encouragement,” the authors write. Here are a few flower meanings and how you can combine them to create a beautiful message.

 

Use traditional Victorian flower meanings to convey a message.

Remembrance

“When you want to commemorate an occasion or a special person, this combination of flowers comes together for a memorable impression,” the authors write. The bouquet doesn’t have to be large—combine the flowers in a vintage coffee or food can for extra effect. Whether the occasion is a birthday, holiday or anniversary, here are some of the flowers you can include and the meaning they convey:

  • Pink carnations: I will never forget you
  • Rosemary: Remembrance
  • Oak leaf hydrangea: Calm
  • Forget me nots: Remembrance
  • Bluebell: Constancy

 

Use bouquets of flowers to convey meaning.

Crush on You

This bouquet can go to a significant other or another person you admire, such as your mom on Mother’s Day. “This arrangement is a lovely way to express your feelings for someone you find fascinating,” the authors write. “Give it to your crush or a friend to let them know they’ve been on your mind.” Include a “Thinking of You” card to tell them the meanings of the flowers in the bouquet:

  • Orange roses and rosebuds: Fascination
  • Maidenhair fern: Secrecy
  • Rose hips: Love
  • Daffodil: Admiration
  • Honeysuckle: Devotion

 

Use bouquets of flowers to convey meaning.

Comfort

Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to give comfort to a friend or loved one when they’re having a hard time. A bouquet of flowers with their Victorian meanings is a steady reassurance of love and support. “Giving comfort and sympathy to others requires sensitivity and quiet reassurances,” the authors write. Here are a few flowers you can use to support others:

  • Scarlet geranium leaves: Sympathy
  • Dahlias: Dignity
  • Glove amaranth: Unchangeable
  • Peony: Bravery
  • Goldenrod: Encouragement

For more ideas, including bouquets for celebration, luck and passionate love, get a copy of Meaningful Bouquets here.

Meaningful Bouquets

Meaningful Bouquets by Leslie Jonath and Lisa McGuinnes, photography by Annabelle Breakey, published by Chronicle Books, © 2016; chroniclebooks.com.