Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Red Roses for a Blue Lady?

Today is Saint Valentine’s Day and you’re wondering if you should send lavender, lettuce or red tulips to your beloved?

Interesting aspects of the Sterling Morton Library’s collections can be found within the plant folklore, symbolism and ethnobotanical sections. Folklore and uses of plants by different ethnic and regional groups are explored within this collection. I always find resources on the language of flowers to be particularly fascinating. What does the language of flowers mean? Used primarily in the 1800s and early 1900s, this was a means of communication in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages. Some of the bouquets sent for interpretation could be quite complicated often needing a sort of Rosetta Stone to decipher the message!

Within the collections of the Sterling Morton Library, this selection of resources will be helpful in understanding and deciphering the language of flowers:
Adams, John S. The language of flowers, c1847.
Cargill, Lafayette F. The language of flowers, c1937.
Flowers, their language, poetry, and sentiment, with choicest extracts from poets, a dictionary of the sentiment of every flower, botanical descriptions, &c., 1870.
Greenaway, Kate. The illuminated language of flowers : over 700 flowers and plants listed alphabetically with their meanings, c1978.
Greenaway, Kate. Kate Greenaway's Language of flowers, [197-?]
Kanaga, I. N. The floral diadem, or, Wreath of gathered flowers : to which is added The language of flowers, 1854.
The language of flowers, c1968.
The language of flowers : birthday gems, 1957?
Mayo, Sarah C. Edgarton. The flower vase; containing the language of flowers and their poetic sentiments, 1844.
Miller, Thomas. The romance of nature, or, The poetical language of flowers, 186-?
Seaton, Beverly. The language of flowers : a history, 1995.
Turner, Cordelia Harris. The floral kingdom, its history, sentiment and poetry, 1877.
Tyas, Robert. The language of flowers, or, Floral emblems of thoughts, feelings, and sentiments, 1869.
Waterman, Catharine H. Flora's lexicon: an interpretation of the language and sentiment of flowers: with an outline of botany, and a poetical introduction, 1854, c1839.

Still wondering about sending a bouquet of lavender, lettuce or red tulips? According to The Illuminated Language of Flowers, your beloved might be surpised to receive a bouquet of lavender since it signifies distrust or lettuce which signifies cold-heartedness. On the other hand, red tulips make a declaration of love!

Before you zoom over or call the florists, visit the Sterling Morton Library and look at some of these intriguing resources!

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