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The Meaning of the Tulip

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Sep 14, 2016

Two Tulips

You walked past

the speed of life hit me

Like two tulips touching

because the wind blew

in a certain direction

with a certain strength


Tark Wain


Tulips are a favorite of many because they are grown in a variety of different colors and are easily attainable throughout the year.  These bulb flowers are one of the most popular items bought from nurseries and are usually the first bloom to rise during the early spring.  Lucky for tulip lovers, there are hundreds of thousands of different varieties so there’s a pretty good chance that you can find whatever shade, texture or size that appeals to you.

Most people don’t know that tulips have an extensive past and are not as modern as they may have previously believed.  The initial recordings of its existence began during the Ottoman Empire where troops named the bloom after society’s cultural wardrobe.  The original word used to describe the tulip was “tolipend” which directly translates into “turbans”.  Wild fields of tulips apparently grew in abundance during this time making it a common bloom for people to pick.  It wasn’t until much later when they were given as gifts to the Netherlands who made them into a major cash crop and exported them around the world.  Once the tulip hit Europe the era of “tulip-mania” began where the flower became a fashionable icon for countries such as England, Holland and particularly France.  Many famous painters chose to use the bloom as the focal point for their art and can be seen today hanging in prestigious locations including castles, museums and political hubs.  

The meaning of the tulip is vast and depends solely on the color of the head.  If the tulip is red, then its meaning can be associated with love, loyalty or death.  If it is white, then it could mean birth, virginity or loneliness.  When the color is yellow, then it can mean infatuation or just a happy and cheery representation.

If you are thinking of gifting this flower to a friend or loved one, please research the exact symbolic meaning before buying tulips since your intended gesture may be misread.  When in doubt, pink tulips are the best choice since they are beautiful in presentation and can be interpreted with joyous and beautiful thoughts.

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Tulips, Flower Meanings

The Meaning of the Dog-rose

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Sep 09, 2016

To the laden gloom of roses

Desire in the hands of the blind

Prefer, in passing, the dog-rose

Of which I am the loving thorn

That survives your feelings of love.

By Rene Char


phot credit: via wikipedia

The Dog-rose is a beautiful spring flower blooming petals in soft shades of pink that surround a center of bright yellow sepals.  The architecture is delicately unique as it bends its boughs downward to reflect a waterfall effect.  The species grows in a bush-like formation and is also commonly referred to as “Sweetbriars” and “Witches Briar”.  As if their ornamental features weren’t enough to allure onlookers, the Dog-rose produces ripe red fruit when the autumn season arrives.  Theorists say that the berries are high in Vitamin C so they’re desirable for natural healers who like to use them in brewed teas, wine, jellies and syrups.  

The first recorded significance of the flower dates back hundreds of years ago to The Academy of Floral Games (founded in 1323), which gifted poets a sprig of Dog-rose to reward them for their literary excellence.  Due to this ritual, the branches became increasingly popular and can be found frequently mentioned in several famous poems.  Most prevalent in the United Kingdom, William Shakespeare wrote about the flower in “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream” quoting his words:

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine."

Symbolically, the meaning of this shrub is quite extensive since the two dominating themes surrounding the flower are pain and pleasure.  The reference to “pain” is said to come from the belief that the medicinal properties of the plant can be used to cure a mad dog’s bite.  Rabies were commonly treated with the plant’s nectar before sophisticated medicines were discovered although if you ever find yourself in this situation without a nearby doctor, look for a berry from a Dog-rose bush and squeeze the juices onto the wound.  The positive meanings stem from its focus around “romanticism” and “pleasures of the body”.  In medieval times, Dog-rose was placed at the end of a maiden’s bed to signify a king’s interest in her company after the court and staff fell asleep.  Once the maiden received such a token, she was instructed to sneak into the royal chamber without being noticed where he would be waiting for her.

Today, the Dog-rose reflects a seasonal meaning of awaiting spring since it is one of the first bushes to bloom after the winter’s closure.  Used as either landscaping or as cut flowers, they make a beautiful variety for flower lovers to enjoy both in and outside their homes.  

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Rose Symbolism, Flower Meanings, Dog-rose,

Symbolic Meaning of the Pomegranate

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Sep 07, 2016

Pomegranate seeds

red as blood,

red as the sky when

the sunset sets it on fire.

shining like diamonds,

little seeds of hope in the

large, large, world.

By Carmen Reed

Nov 15, 2014


photo credit: Sharon McGukin via Flower Factor

I’m sure many of you have experienced the amazing taste of the pomegranate whether it is within a salad, fruit juice or maybe even in fancy flavored martini.  These small and dainty seeds have made a grand impression on the culinary world over the years, particularly within the “health nut craze” where the flavor is used in organic meals. The is often used in floral arrangements for its beauty, color, texture and symbolism. Interestingly enough, the pomegranate has a long history of influence throughout several cultures and is regarded as an important component in several different rites and ceremonies.  Originally grown in Persia and Afghanistan, the tree grows from 12 to 26 feet in height and produces round shaped vesicles that contain thousands of the crimson colored berries.  In fact, in Provence, the pomegranate is actually referred to as “miograno” which translates into meaning “a thousand seeds”.  The shade of the fruit is what truly earned the it’s decadent reputation, so much so that it is also responsible for the jewel “garnet’s” name.

The pomegranate foremost stands for fertility, a notion that dates back to Greek mythology where it is associated with the story of Persephone who is taken by Hades to the underworld.  The multiple seeds stand for “rebirth”, in this case her return to her mother to begin the spring season.  In many religions, it is not unusual for them to be gifted to women hopeful to become pregnant where they believe that a taste of the sweet seeds will encourage a seed to be planted of her own.  In the Christian world, the fruit is associated with the Virgin Mary as meaning “eternal life” as well as a reference to Doom’s Day.  Weddings, baptisms and birthday are typical occasions where the pomegranate makes an appearance during the celebration as a drink, food or present to the guest of honor(s).  The only negative meaning that seems to be associated with the pomegranate is “war” due to the core shape of the fruit resembling a grenade.

Otherwise, pomegranates have been used throughout time as a remarkable decorative feature in cuisine, art and even textiles such as fine rugs and leathers.  Their positive healthy attributes and affordability make this delicious fruit still sought after over centuries of world wide appreciation.  

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Flower Meanings, Pomegranate

What Is the Meaning of the Pansy Flower

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Sep 03, 2016

The Meaning of Pansies

Finish the Verse

By Sadaf Syed

Roses are red,

violets are blue,

But I prefer a purple pansy

When I reminisce over you.


Pansies are a common flower we recognize as a sign of spring and often are used as our first featured blooms to be placed in pots and flowerbeds.  Pansies have also become one of the hottest autumn plants for their durability and vibrant colors. Their ability to withstand the chill of April and October weather keeps them a hot commodity for early and late gardeners but little do many people know of their symbolic importance as well.  Pansies are an interesting flower when speaking of their meaning because the options are vast including ideas of friendship, loyalty, love, passion and remembrance.  Due to this wide selection of interests, pansies are sought after for funerals, weddings and even retirement parties.  Here are the specific reasons why they remain so special even in today’s world of fashionable flowers…

Pansies are a part of the violet family and hold a high resemblance to the shape of her parent’s appearance, specifically the head shape and foliage.  A recognizable difference is its “Super Sized” girth, usually tripling the girth of a typical violet. Shakespeare was a huge fan of the flower and featured the variety often in his work. Ophelia and A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream were two of his most famous written works that showcased the blooms with significant importance signifying remembrance or sorrow for a loved one.  

On the opposite side of the spectrum, pansies can also refer to pleasant and happy notions such as true friendship, companionship, spirituality and modesty.  Depending on the color of the pansy, a warm hue of lavender or yellow usually can be interpreted with a pleasant meaning.  If the petal’s shade is darker, the implication could turn out to be more negative.  If you are speaking about a white pansy, typically the reference is drawn to death suggesting farewell and goodbye.  The wide usage of symbolism pertaining to the pansy has made this flower a popular subject for artists to paint, one of which is the famous Georgia O’Keefe who was known to have felt a strong connection to the bloom.  

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Flower Meanings, Pansies

The Symbolism Behind the Periwinkle Flower

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Aug 28, 2016

retty Periwinkle Makes A Move

Pretty Periwinkle, lovable, at my happy doorstep,

full of purple flowers, winks at me every time I pass her;

she has something to tell me in private, it's evident,

she whispered, I tried within limits, but couldn't afford to concede.

By K Balachandran


photo credit via www.parkswholesaleplants.com

There’s everything to love about the Periwinkle flower, starting from its happy, bright petal shape to its stunning deep hue of blue or lavender that paints their heads.  This no-fuss plant is a sought after addition to many New England yards and can even be sometimes seen growing wild within forests or meadows.  The root system prefers an arid composition although other varieties have been known to relish in humid climates.  Currently the plant is being researched as a potential herb to treat cancer but because the flower holds a fraction of dangerous poison, it is still risky beyond using it as a decorative feature.  

Interestingly enough, periwinkles hold a large list of distinguishing meaning including both sentimental and religious symbolism.  Depending on your faith or viewpoint, these tiny blossoms can be referenced in several areas of literature and folklore and are often combined with ceremonial acts and traditions.  Here are the most popular references to the periwinkle.  


The most cited depictions of periwinkles are associated with pleasant emotional states or the experience of nostalgia.  One story that stands out is from the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau who looked upon the periwinkle as meaning “fidelity in friendship”, “warm memories” and “remembrance of things past”.  According to his memoirs scribed within “Confessions”, he was taking a walk and stumbled across a patch of blue, which instantly reminded him of his dear friend, Madame de Warens.  As he warmly recollected his time with her, he stated that every time he came across the periwinkle, her face would instantly flash within his mind.  An opposite symbolic reference regarded this flower as being a necessary ingredient to make witched brew, hence the nickname, “witches’ violet.  


Religious views also utilize the periwinkle for symbolizing “wee virgin”, “purity” and “everlasting love”.  Several churches tie the flower directly to the Virgin Mary and have even been recreated through catholic paintings and stained glass displays.  They are often also used to make crowns for brides in Europe or bouquets in weddings because of their symbolism, which honors “honesty”, “truth” and “faithfulness”.

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Flower Meanings, Periwinkle, Vinca

The Meaning and Symbolism of Hollyhock Flower

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Aug 23, 2016

80's holiday

Hollyhocks, sandals with socks

Knickerbocker glories

Salty air, old caravans

Magical bedtime stories

Fish 'n' chips, sticks of rock

Climbing fragrant evergreens

Endless hikes, stunning views

By Shaded Lamp


photo credit via: www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com

Hollyhocks are one of the first flowers from my garden that amazes me each year with their fluffy heads bursting with color and their massive heights that tower over everything else growing in the yard.  Beautifully shaped petals and mighty stalks that pull through the soil like mini tree trunks all make the hollyhock a favorite for most gardeners.  

They are simply stunning…

There’s no wonder why this plant is associated with a majestic orientation due to its superior floral presentation and impressive ability to flourish in several conflicting soil grades.  In truth, the hollyhock prefers impoverished earth to dig its roots into and will actually live a longer lifespan through the summer if the ground hasn’t been fertilized or treated.  

Another symbol that the flower represents is fertility and fruitfulness.  During the end of its life cycle when the leaves and stem begins to droop, the hollyhock produces a round disk that encompasses many different seeds so that it can reproduce.  The perennial’s ability to do this has made the plant an icon for fertility treatments offices, mothers support groups and can often be seen as the logo for baby clothing enterprises.  

Baby stores weren’t the only ones who used the appeal of the flower’s properties for their marketing purposes since the hollyhock was replicated over and over again in several famous Flemish oil paintings.  Art Nouveau artists also had fun featuring the flower in many contemporary décor products such as the fabric for curtains and even as printed wallpaper.  

A third meaning for the hollyhock is tied to ambition because of the overall strength of the plant to grow in an array of conditions and its powerful presence in landscaping scenery.  Quite often you can also see hollyhocks lining fences and gates because some believe that their statuesque appearance and tall lengths reflect the impression of protection and safety.  

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Flowers, Flower Meanings, Hollyhock

The Symbolism of the Peony

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Aug 20, 2016

Silky smooth,

Tender veins,

Numerous petals

Smell sweet.




By Allyson Walsh


The peony is a beautiful flower that is known to be a traditionally well-respected bloom in early summer gardens.  Derived from the Latin name, “Paeonia”, it thrives during the spring season in stunning colors of pink, cream, burgundy, white, red and peach.  The flower grows in a bush-like form, which can grow to be the size of a large shrub if given nutrients and fertilizer.  The petals of the head are said to resemble soft silk, which is why they are often featured in silk paintings.  Although the peony is cultivated all around the world, China and Japan excel in harvesting this variety above all other countries.  One point of view claims this is because the two cultures honor the flower highly within religious, social and spiritual aspects.

One of the symbolic meanings of this flower is tied to royalty and honor, particularly in the Asian culture.  Peonies are often used in ceremonies as they represent the idea of wealth, luck and good fortune.  Centuries ago, Chinese medicine claimed that the blossoms contained medicinal properties which is why you can still see them growing in monastery gardens today.  Although it has never been proven what exactly peonies are capable of healing, there is still a strong belief behind the blossoms that they have natural curing benefits for stomach pains and exhaustion.  In Greek mythology, the peony is named after the doctor, “Peon” who cured Hades when he had fallen ill.  Legend says that he crushed the petals to make an herbal remedy sifted in tea for the God to drink.  


Another symbolic meaning of the peony is “shyness” where a stem of the flower can be translated into “blushing girl”.  In French culture, there is even an expression that says, “as red as a peony”.  Other lure uses this symbolism to express embarrassment, which is referenced in several poems about nymphs and fairies covering their naked bodies with peony petals from prying eyes.  Myth says that it is extremely harmful to your karma to ever remove a rooted peony from your landscaping once it has been planted.

Universally, the peony stands for honoring your word, apologizing when you have wronged another and simplistic beauty found in a woman.  Specific variations can be found tied to the exact color of a bloom that extends from love to mourning.  

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Peonies, Flowers, Flower Meanings

The Symbolic Meaning of Bachelor Buttons

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Aug 10, 2016

Bachelor's Button

The color ran down the canvas

Watery blue like the shoreline of some port town

As blue as the button on the waist coat

That lay forgotten in your wooden trunk.

It was given to you long ago

When you were still a young gent

By the lovely lady who lived next door

The one you married a year later

With eyes the color of the sea

In some old forgotten port town.

Author Unknown


Bachelor Buttons are one of the most striking gifts we are blessed with during the summer months and luckily, they seem to spring up almost anywhere.  They are deemed an old blossom associated with traditional times and are typically seen in English-styled postcards and paintings.  The flower’s happy blue faces are enough to make anyone smile along with their delicate shaped heads stretching out like tiny individual stars.  Otherwise known as “Bluebottles”, Bachelor Buttons are common across the northeast and grow like weeds where you least expect them, especially within wheat fields where they receive their symbolism of “opulence”.  There have been a few surprise sighting throughout history, one of which was during the excavation of an Egyptian tomb.  When archeologists went to explore King Tutankhamen’s crypt, the last thing they expected to find amongst gold was a wreath still intact made out of these indigo wonders.  

Dating even before King Tutankhamen, myth says that the Bachelor Button was even tied to Greek Mythology when Chiron was attacked with an arrow but cured with the flower’s powerful nectar.  This soon became the basis for making the blossom signify “protection” and “healing”.  Interestingly enough, Bachelor Buttons are proven to possess medicinal properties when the petals are soaked in boiling water.  If the heads are then placed on a person’s eyelids, they are supposed to be soothing and capable of alleviating issues like puffiness or redness.  


Turns out I’m not the only fan of this electric blue stunner either since France holds this variety as part of their national flower collection.  Bachelor Buttons were also John F. Kennedy’s favorite as well.  He loved the flower so much that he wore it on his lapel the day he married Jacqueline.  He did this in order to pay tribute to his father.  

Along with it being symbolic of “delicacy”, “purity of feelings” and “good fortune”, the flower is said to be able to tell the future outcome of a new relationship.  Place one head in your pocket and if the flower is still alive the next day, the couple will have a long future together.  If it dies before the next day, then it's time to call it splitsville fast.  

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Flowers, Flower Meanings, Bachelor Buttons

The Meaning of the Thistle Flower

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Aug 01, 2016


Flower of thistle

Ardent in violet tops

Full of passion

Laced in milky desire

It seems

I've pricked

My heart



photo credit: via Flower Factor

The thistle is an interesting specimen to research because although many varieties produce a pretty purple or blue head, the plant’s prickly stem and branches wins most of the attention.  Like its rough exterior, the meaning of the flower is associated with aggressiveness, pain, protection and pride.  Since thistle is defined as both a flower and a weed, the exact inference of the bloom can extend from less positive symbolism such as poverty and weakness all the way to qualities of might and brilliance.  

Throughout history, many cultures have adopted the flower as a positive emblem, cultivating unique stories that tell the tales of past heritages.  France for instance associates thistle as a weapon against witches and bad doers.  Commonly called “Flower of the Sun” or “Herb of Witches”, the French believed that witches could not look into the sun, but the strong thistle always stood proudly to face the light.  Because of this, lure proclaims that the flower is the icon for the sun sent down to protect others from harm and evil.


photo credit: via Flower Factor

Another example of how the thistle has been cherished around the world is its popularity in Scotland where it is the national flower.  The reason can be traced to a battle fought during the fifteenth century when the Normans initiated a brutal assault on the country.  Heavily outweighed and unarmed, the Scottish army believed they were doomed until one night when a band of soldiers snuck through the pasture in order to initiate a surprise attack.  It would have worked but the Normans were unfamiliar with the prevalent, prickly plant that grew in abundance in Scotland.  When one enemy yelped and cried in pain from being stabbed by the thistle, the Scottish army woke up and was able to protect themselves, conclusively winning the war.  From that point on, the thistle became honored and was even written about in sacred documentation.  “Nemo me impune lacesset” became the Scottish Order of the Thistle which translates into “No one attacks me with impunity”.  The flower is also stitched on the Scotland rugby uniforms to stand for fierceness and bravery.  

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Flowers, Flower Meanings, Thistle

The Meaning of the Gladiola

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jul 27, 2016

1969 maybe remembered

Lady Highgate, Martha thought alone.

Death or the gladioli,

the train tracks have already taken

companions , too quick to take in the malady.

Park benches, astute cold Sundays,

but no invited parties,

suitcases increasingly deftly packed…

By Sarah Gentry


photo credit: via Jeff Leatham

Gladiolas are looked upon as a traditional species within the flower industry, a bloom that has proven dependable and available through the changing climate of the business.  Their appeal is duly associated with their spike-like shape and large blooms that spear out of the sides of the stem along with the wide spectrum of color that is cultivated.  The impressive length to which the gladiola grows makes it a very useful variety when designers look to create high standing centerpieces that need to promote a “showy” presentation.  Typically, the cost of the flower is fairly low, making floral buyers attracted to adding glads to their list of regular purchases from wholesalers.  If you’re a summer lover who also loves flowers and just has to fill those table vases with something that won't croak in the heat, gladiolas are just the right pick because they can withstand slightly warmer temperatures compared to other options.


photo credit via Jeff Leatham

Funny enough, their symbolism doesn’t reflect their physical attributes in quite the same way.  Gladiolas are associated with arrogance and combativeness.  One can make an argument that their spear-like appearance is responsible for this reference because it looks like a weapon but in actuality, the Latin root word ”gladiolus” has historically been tied to the fierce gladiators of ancient Rome.

Like all flowers and their meanings, the gladiola also has a counter interpretation of reflecting passion, integrity and infatuation.  Some believe that if you give the person you love a bouquet of glads, you will pierce their heart causing them to become blinded with love in return.  The 40th wedding anniversary of a couple is traditionally honored with an arrangement of these blooms with the intention to promote another 40 years of continued passion.  

A third implication of the flower’s meaning can be paired with remembrance and sadness.  If you don’t think you’re familiar with gladiolas, I bet you’ve seen them when attending a funeral since this variety is almost always used with casket sprays, altar pieces and other components of funeral flower arranging.  

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Flowers, Flower Meanings, Gladiola

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