Talking Bouquets

Submitted into Contest #86 in response to: Write a story where flowers play a central role.... view prompt

7 comments

Fiction Friendship Inspirational

Not sure what to say…then say it with a talking bouquet


        The carved wooden plaque hand painted with delicate wildflowers has been hanging prominently on the wall in the small shop for decades. Seeing it hanging there this morning clouds my eyes with tears. 


       “Oh, Granny Rose. I already miss you so much” I sob.


       How will I say all the things I want to say about the woman who loved me, who raised me, the woman who taught me all I know about Floriography. I lovingly reach for her worn copy of the Language of Flowers from the shelf behind the counter. I probably had watched her do so a thousand times before. This 1884 edition has been passed down from generation to generation and now it belongs to me.


      I learned the language of flowers from Granny Rose along with learning the alphabet. I smile picturing the two of us sitting on a bench in one of her many gardens surrounded by vibrant color and pleasing fragrances. 


      She would smile brightly as I recited “A-aster-daintiness,B- bluebell-humility,C-clover-think of me,D-daffodil-respect……”


      My education in Floriography grew as I grew. Granny Rose taught me the practical healing properties of lavender, jasmine and many other flower varieties. Neighbors for miles around sought her advice when plagued with aches and illness. She kept a stock of dried flowers and herbs on the shop’s shelves. If a neighbor couldn’t afford to pay Granny Rose would freely give it away.


      “Which flower improves digestive health?”


       “Daisies.” I would reply.


        “And passionflower?


        “Anxiety.”


        “Right again, Iris.”


     Granny Rose taught me about planting zones and about the kinds of seeds that should be planted each season. We would work side by side sowing seeds in the rich soil. She showed me how to fertilize, prune and how to naturally rid plants of harmful garden pests and disease. Granny Rose showed be how to cut fresh flowers without causing damage to surround stems and leaves.


    The flowers Granny Rose carefully arranged for customers were always an act of love . She would ask each customer about the occasion and the sentiment or message desired. Then she would make suggestions based on their responses. Granny Rose would never rush or hurry customers into making a decision. Granny Rose didn’t want customers to worry about cost either. That is one of the reasons the shop has struggled making money for several years. Granny Rose always had a generous heart. She desired both the giver and the receiver to be perfectly satisfied with the floral arrangement more than she desired to make a profit.


     “Every arrangement requires the six principles of floral design- balance, contrast, dominance, proportion, size and rhythm but the most important thing to remember is what the bouquet is meant to say.” Granny Rose cautioned me one afternoon while we were preparing an arrangement for a customer.


     I will never forget the first bouquet I arranged on my own. I wanted to surprise Granny Rose for her birthday. The bouquet I arranged lacked all the principles of floral design but her delighted face did not reveal any disapproval to me. A photograph is displayed on the wall of the shop of Granny Rose holding that first bouquet. Along side that are my framed awards for best floral design won at several county fairs.


     Floriography is the language of flowers that dates back to the Victorian times. Coded messages were conveyed through bouquets known as “tussie-mussies” or talking bouquets. These carefully selected and arranged bouquets allowed people to express their feelings. Express their feelings when expressing feelings in words was considered bad manners. This bouquet giving and receiving was a type of courtship game. The kinds of flowers selected, the number of flowers in the arrangement, how the ribbon was tied and even whether bouquets were handed and or received by the left hand or the right hand each held a special and different meaning. A meaning in which the people of that time knew and understood. Before giving and after receiving a bouquet the language of flower guide would be consulted order to reveal the coded message. Consider those talking bouquets as the emojis of that era a clever way to share feelings under the strict rule of Queen Victoria.


       Since the mid 1800’s every female in my family has been named after a flower. Each name carefully selected by the Matriarch who would observe the newborn for three days before choosing an appropriate name. Granny Rose choose the name Iris for me which means hope and trust. Now with Granny Rose’s passing her hope and trust lie with me to keep the shop opened against the growing competition from the larger flower distributers in the city.


       “I won’t let you down, Granny Rose.” I whisper into a bunch of freshly cut yellow roses. The yellow rose which symbolizes caring was one of Granny Rose’s favorites. Included in the funeral bouquet along with the yellow roses are are bluebells for the gratitude I feel for all she taught me, red carnations for my aching heart, gladiolus for the endless generosity she showed one and all, cyclamen to say goodbye, zinnia for thoughts of absent friends, forget me knots for she will ever be in my heart and finally snap dragons for the strength I will need to continue without her.

******

     One late warm spring afternoon I sit on a bench with my granddaughter, Primrose. We are in one of the many gardens surrounded by vibrant color and pleasant fragrances.


     “A-aster-daintiness,B- bluebell-humility,C-clover-think of me,D-daffodil-respect……” Primrose recites.


     I can feel the warmth of the suns rays embracing me as if they are Granny Rose’s strong loving arms wrapping me in a tight hug. I look out over the abundance of flowers blooming in the gardens and smile. 


     “Thank you, Granny Rose. Thank you for everything. Thanking you for putting your hope and trust in me so many years ago.” I whisper.


     “ Primrose, which flower is used to improve digestive health?”


     “Daisies.” She responds confidently.










March 24, 2021 15:00

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7 comments

Rachel Loughran
15:51 Mar 31, 2021

This was lovely Doria, I can tell the level of research that went into this (I also wrote about floriography for last weeks' prompt!) and I think this is a lovely approach to take with the subject! What I think is really interesting about floriography, especially the way it was used in Victorian times, is that lots of people had different flower dictionaries, so sometimes you could send a posy meaning one thing, and the recipient might think it means something completely different (like trying to interpret tone in a text, or through emojis...

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Nora Ouardi
20:25 Mar 24, 2021

Wow, just when I thought you couldn't get any better, here comes this story. Wow, just wow. I'm speechless. I love how you portray Granny Rose, she sounds like the classic grandma who bakes cookies everyday! Iris and I share the same hole of loss because, I too lost my grandma (it was 6 years ago,so I don't really remember her), which makes this story even more amazing.

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D. Owen
23:44 Mar 24, 2021

I am sorry to hear of your loss. As a Grandmother myself, I cherish my relationship with my thirteen grandchildren. Thank you for reading and your kind comments.

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Nora Ouardi
18:17 Mar 25, 2021

No problem! I wish the best for you and your family.

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20:18 Mar 24, 2021

i love this story. the picture it paints is vivid. i love Granny Rose who sounds like an amazing person. there are a few grammatical errors like 'didn't wanted' but everyone makes them. are the flower facts and remedies in this true? i don't know very much about flowers

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D. Owen
23:46 Mar 24, 2021

Thanks for reading. I appreciate you pointing out errors I can fix. Yes, the meanings and remedies are true. I researched before writing.

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05:36 Mar 25, 2021

that is very interesting. :)

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