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Valentine's Edit - The Hidden Language of Flowers

January 29 2021 – Mercantile London

Valentine's Edit - The Hidden Language of Flowers

Valentine's Edit - The Hidden Language of Flowers



Significance has been attached to certain flowers, plants, and herbs in many ancient cultures around the world. The Egyptians revered the lotus flower with its own feast day, and offered rose petals to the gods, Greek mythology included tales of Hyacinth and Narcissus, who both became associated with their flower form after death, and the Romans linked many flowers with their deities, honouring Flora the goddess of flowers, nature, and spring with her own festival of Floralia. These associations carried on throughout history until the Victorian era where the ‘language’ of flowers or 'floriography' gained popularity.

With the strict etiquette of the time determining behaviours, ‘floriography’ was a way to send subtle messages that might have been difficult to express in public. The more flowers, plants or herbs that were combined in a bouquet; the more complex the message, and the placement and number of blooms also added meaning.

Flowers that lent to the left in the arrangement were said to represent the sender, and to the right the object of affection. Two flowers in full bloom placed over two flowers in bud alluded to secrecy, roses given with or without thorns or leaves involved additional context surrounding the flowers original sentiment, and a 'reversed' flower was to be read in contradiction to the blooms original meaning.
Some bouquets were small enough to be worn as a corsage or held as a small posy, and the placement or how they were accepted relayed messages back, with a downwards position meaning ‘no’ and one held or pinned at heart level said to mean ‘acceptance’.

Nearly every flower had multiple meanings but the introduction and subsequent  popularity of flower ‘dictionaries’ resulted in an accepted code beginning to be understood. Not many would have wanted to receive candytuft (indifference) wild tansy (I declare war against you) or a yellow carnation (distain) but would have been quite happy to receive striped tulips (beautiful eyes) white roses (elegance) or milkvetch (your presence softens my pains).

In order to compliment the flowers you may be sending this Valentine’s or as an alternative idea for your loved one, we have rounded up an edit of small gift ideas that as well as showing love to small, independent brands contain the messages of love, hope and encouragement you may just want to pass on this Valentine's.




Chamomile – Energy in adversity.

Yellow Gorse Herbal Sleep Sachet £4.00



Jasmine - Grace & Elegance

Bon Parfumeur 002 Neroli, Jasmine, White Amber Perfume £40.00



Cedar - Strength 

Wax + Wick Amber & Mineral Candle £24.00 (cedarwood base)


Bon Parfumeur 602 Pepper, Cedar, Patchouli Perfume £40.00



Lemon - True Heart

Farm Soap Co Lemon & Lime Soap £5.00


Alvarez Gomez Agua De Colonia Concentrada Eau De Cologne £30.00



Oak - Bravery

Burning Soul Tobacco & Oak Candle £22.00



Orange Blossom - Eternal Love

Compagnie De Provence Orange Blossom Hand Cream £5.00


Bon Parfumeur 001 Orange Blossom, Petitgrain, Bergamot Perfume £40.00



Yarrow - Everlasting Love

PF Candle Co No.33 Sunbloom Candle £24.00 (golden-rayed lily, yarrow, and tonka bean). 



Rose Geranium - Preference

Yellow Gorse Rose Geranium Bath Butter Fizz £3.00



(Red) Tulip - Declaration of love 

Tangent GC Tulip Hand Cream £14.00



For more Valentine ideas shop here



Information on flower meanings taken from Language of Flowers Kate Greenaway, 1846-1901 (New York Public Library).




Tagged: Brands, East London, independent, Inspiration, Mercantile, Mercantile London, Spitalfields