Tussie-Mussies—Do Flowers Talk?

One of the ways to send messages in the nineteenth century was tussie-mussies, little bouquets of flowers that ladies and gentlemen of the era used to send messages to one another. Today I guess we would probably call them instant messages.

“Do flowers talk?” Well, if Lewis Carroll’s Alice had paid more attention to the customs of the era, she would have known that the answer was unequivocally “yes.” For the Victorians, each flower represented a different emotion or meaning that—when combined—sent a message to the receiver.

An entire courtship could take place with the presentation of flowers. A small bouquet of rose, ivy, and myrtle would signify beauty, friendship, and hope. Bachelor’s buttons (hope) and roses (love) placed together would mean, “I hope to obtain your love.” A combination of jonquil and linden could signify a marriage proposal.

So this year on Mother’s Day, when you offer a bouquet of flowers or maybe even a tussie-mussie, why not try something new—or rather old-fashioned—and choose flowers that “talk?”

Amanda Kraemer, Education Assistant
Photography by Richard Warren

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