Floriography is the language of flowers. And perhaps no more relevant for flower arrangers or rose growers than when they take part in the now popular trend of making sure the right colour means the right thing
Roses are red, violets are blue. Let’s rewind that a little bit.
Roses come in all shades, and blue is just one of them.
The best part is that there is a rose colour for pretty much every occasion, every mood and every feeling! And it’s becoming an increasing trend amongst those arranging roses or growing roses that the colour of the rose has exactly the right meaning.
Whether you’re gifting roses to your significant other as a celebration of your love, to a friend to show them your appreciation, or to express compassion, roses have a special meaning in the hearts of many of us and specially those who grow them.
Luckily, each colour has a specific meaning, and depending on the occasion, one will be better suited than the other and its important not only when considering cut blooms it is also critical when it comes to what to grow.
During the Victorian era, flower language, also known as floriography, gained prominence. Flowers, especially roses, were used to convey a secret message without having to speak. This tradition has carried through today, and roses are much appreciated as a stand-alone gift, as well as a sentimental complement to a main present.
Yellow roses – for friendship
The warmth of the yellow rose symbolises friendship, joy and gladness.
Some gorgeous yellow roses to consider sending are the lightly fragrant and deep yellow ‘Gold Strike’, or the long-lasting favourite ‘Aalsmeer Gold.’ For very special friends consider the spray rose ‘Rhumba’, with five yellow-fringed-with-orange blossoms on each stem.
Yellow roses, though actually an ancient flower as shown through fossil evidence, weren’t prevalent until discovered in the Middle East in the 1700s. Since then, it’s been a popular favourite in gardens and bouquets alike.
White roses – a symbol of purity and innocence
One of the oldest varieties of rose, ‘Rosa Alba’ or the white rose has been a favourite of all civilizations, ancient and modern alike. White roses symbolise purity and innocence. For use in bridal arrangements, ‘Escimo,’ is a small, almost pure white rose that is very delicate in appearance and opens beautifully.
No wedding would ever be the same without a white rose implemented in the décor or the bride’s bouquet. In fact, white roses hold as much significance as something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
Featuring white roses in a wedding is a spell for a long-lived marriage. They are associated with the beginning of new creations; such is the divine unity between two lovers. It also symbolises peace, innocence, and pure love.
In ancient Greece, white roses were often used as a healing potion and were found in herb gardens throughout the land.
Gift a single white rose for trust and peace, and a bouquet of more than five roses to signify everlasting love. Be wary that if the bride’s bouquet consists of less than five white roses, it can bring about a difficult marriage. They are also the emblem of Yorkshire, so you can make someone from the region happy by giving them a white rose.
Red roses – a classic love token
Legend has it that when Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, found her lover, Adonis, wounded by a wild boar, her tears and his blood mixed and created an astonishing red rose bush when they fell on the ground.
Later on, during the Victorian era, Shakespeare monumentalised the red rose-gifting as a supreme expression of love. Since then, the many of shades of red in roses has symbolised the multitude of layers of love. For example, deep, velvety red nuances represent meaningful romance, while bright red roses are a symbol of courage and bravery in love.
The number of gifted roses is also of high importance. Give a single rose to your long-term partner to tell them that they’re still the one.
Two roses signify mutual love and affection, while twelve roses scream something more significant And, of course, the classic 100 roses are a gesture of ultimate devotion.
Popular varieties include the scarlet red ‘Kardinal,’ the dark red and very fragrant ‘Mr. Lincoln’, and the deep red tea rose ‘Madame Delbard’, which has been brought back due to popularity. ‘Cara Mia’ is another deep red favourite of rose growers.
Blue roses – imbued with mystery and wishful thinking
Violets may well be blue, but roses are too! Well, not naturally, but the advancements in genetic engineering have made our desire for royal blue roses come to fruition.
There is a legend that accompanies the origin of the blue rose. In Chinese folklore, an Emperor’s daughter was to choose her husband, and her only requirement was that the chosen one will be the one who brings her a blue rose. She turned down all candidates who attempted to fabricate a blue rose. Some brought her a rose painted in blue, one carved out of sapphire, or a magical one, yet none of them were suitable for the princess. Until the gardener’s son, whom she had her heart set on, brought her a blue rose one day and she said yes to him.
However, blue roses signify new beginnings, and they’re a great gift for someone starting a new career, going on a journey, graduation ceremonies, and birthday celebrations.
Mystical lavender roses
Probably the most mystical and fairy-tale perfect colour of rose is lavender. It is said if someone gives you a purple rose it means they fell in love with you at first sight, just like ‘Cinderella’s Prince Charming’.
It’s interesting as well to note that purple is a royal colour, so sending a single purple rose means you find her majestic, opulent and special. If you are seeking to voice your deepest love and admiration, consider sending the dynamic ‘Blue Curiosa’ or the blend of colours in ‘Lavender Duet’.
The most ancient of all roses which dates back 40 million years and the most iconic one is the pink rose. Imbued with rich symbolism of love, beauty, and gratitude, it’s a staple gift for women that alludes to their grace and femininity.
Pink roses appear in ancient literature, music, and paintings, and are part of many cultures around the world. They are an emblem of Bulgaria, where flocks of people go to savour the rose valleys and indulge in the gamut of rose products, from rose perfumes and lotions to rose liqueurs and chocolates.
Other Mediterranean countries, alongside places like Persia and China, are also prominent for their abundance of pink roses. According to some Hebrew texts, the only flowers that were allowed in the Holy City of Jerusalem were pink roses.
In terms of gift-giving, you can never go wrong with a pink rose.
There are many different variations of pink, from a pale blush to a gentle medium pink to a vibrant pink, each having its own meaning and implication. The palest pink roses are a sign of gentleness, joy and grace. ‘Bridal Pink ‘is a perfect pale pink floribunda rose that is long lasting and offers a spicy scent. The light to medium pink roses can show sympathy or admiration. ‘Lady Diana’ is a beautiful light pink rose perfect for either emotion. Deep pink roses, such as ‘Laser’ and ‘Diplomat’ are perfect choices to show someone how grateful you are to have them in your life.
Black roses – a symbol of death and rebirth
True black roses don’t exist, but blooms that are the darkest red can look black. Giving someone black roses would mean the death of a relationship or idea. Some, however, suggest that black roses could symbolize rebirth or the beginning of something new. If these unique dark blooms interest you or would thrill a loved one, consider choosing the mysterious and beautiful ‘Black Magic’ rose.
A symbol of death and tragic love, the black rose has been incorporated into literature and pop culture.
Originally, it symbolised power and strength amongst ancient cultures, and it became really popular in the Victorian era as part of gothic and macabre literature. But the floriography of the black rose has quite a dark meaning. For example, the Sicilian mafia would send a black rose to someone to notify them that death was coming. In popular culture, this particular flower has been associated with anarchist ideology since 1982.
In literature, characters are often gifted a black rose when they start a new chapter of their life to signify a change of character.