Sunday, April 29, 2012

Z is for Zephyr and Zinnia

Several years ago, I found this little book at our local used book book fair. The book fair is a week long event, and I assume that books can be got at a good price. However, I wait till the last day when books can be got at a great price, which is a grocery bag full of books for $5. This little book was just sitting in an unassuming pile, waiting for me to find it.

This book was printed in 1966, and this is what is printed on the inside flaps:
..."Father wanted to give Mother a present on their golden anniversary; instead of buying her a brooch or bracelet, he hit upon the happy plan of writing and illustrating a little book for her called "The Language of Flowers", which has now been resurrected from some forgotten drawer and published in this facsimile edition--perfectly irresistible to any flower lover.
   This unusual dictionary of the traditional meanings (as well as some dreamed up by the author) of over 700 flowers is reminiscent of a gentler era when people found time to express their affection in an individual way. A family heirloom for decades, it has been reproduced in England with the family's permission. Charmingly hand-scripted with delicate water-coloured flowers and plants bordering each page, the author's comprehensive list ranges from ahatina (fickleness) to zinnia (thoughts of absent friends), and embraces such unlikely plants as the potato (benevolence), rubarb (advice) and a branch of currants (you please all). His list of roses is most impressive--forty different kinds and colours, each with its own meaning. 
   Who Father is must remain a secret. All we know is that Mother and he celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on August 8, 1913 and that his initials were F.W.L."

A fun coincidence is that my parent's wedding anniversary is also on August 8, so that was another reason that I had to have this book.

This is what the inscription says: "To Mother, Wishing you many happy returns of the day - from Father  August 8th, 1913

    There is a language, "little known",
    Lovers claim it as their own.
    Its symbols smile upon the land,
    Wrought by Natures wonderous hand;
    And in their silent beauty speak,
    Of life and joy, to those who seek
    For Love Divine and sunny hours
    In the language of the flowers.

Page after page has hand written names and meanings of flowers, and beautiful water-colored illustrations. I wonder how much time it took to create such a beautiful and thoughtful gift. I can only imagine the joy it must have brought to Mother to be the recipient of such a thoughtful, time-consuming gift. Also, during this era, it was very important to know meanings of flowers, because they were used to "send messages". For example, if a man wanted to impress his true love, he would be in big trouble if he sent her a bouquet of yellow lilies (falsehood) and purple larkspur (haughtiness).

Here are some more names and meanings that are in this little book:
Ice plant - Your looks freeze me
Japan Rose - Beauty is your only attraction
Nemophila - I forgive you
Pansy - Thoughts
Peach - Your qualities like your charms are unequal
Peony - Shame bashfulness
Wisteria - I cling to thee

And, with today being the last day of the A-Z blogging challenge, (whew!) I'll end with the only two flowers that start with a "Z".

 Zephyr Flower - Expectation

Zinnia - Thoughts of absent friends



  1. Wow, this was really a find, truly one of a kind and beautiful!

  2. Oh what a delightful post to end the A - Z challenge with my friend! What a beautiful little book, and what a wonderful present from that Father to his beloved wife of 50 years. It really does look like a little gem of a book and even more important for you with your mum and dad's wedding anniversary falling on the same date. How spooky is that?! Congratulations on finishing this A - Z Challenge. Now go and have a quick rub down with that pink feather boa!!

  3. How sweet! I LOVE that little book! He must have loved his wife very much. That was, as my MIL would have called it, a true labor of love!

  4. I love this! Possibly one of my favorite post of yours. It captures the romance of the day! Well done!


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