Floral Traditions in England - from Garden of Eden Flower Shop
Posted on February 28 2021
Welcome to our floral travel blog to England! England is steeped in floral tradition, especially when it comes to meanings and folklore. Since the time of the druids and pagans in Britain, flowers and herbs have held significance in the culture of the island. Oak, ivy, and holly are most associated with steadfastness and rebirth of the gods of the earth, herbs such as rosemary have been immortalized in
Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” in regards to memory, and flowers such as violet hold forth the idea of faithfulness. The language of flowers is very closely followed in England:
Red roses symbolize eternal love and fidelity.
When used in combination, Red and White roses stand for love solidarity.
Pink roses are an invitation to ‘meet the giver, in the moonlight’.
Calla lilies stand for magnificent beauty.
Amaryllis symbolize splendid beauty and pride.
The yellow Iris is considered the ‘flame of love’.
Freesias are the flowers of eternal friendship and respect.
Carnations in their myriad hues symbolize faith, hope and platonic love.
Red chrysanthemums stand for true love.
White chrysanthemums stand for truth.
As stated, flowers are deeply rooted in local folklore and legends. To a neutral, these meanings and symbolism can be quite confusing which can lead to embarrassing situations, where despite the best intentions you may end up with the wrong flowers for the right occasion in question.
The Tudor Rose has been the British national symbol for hundreds of years, since The War of the Roses. From 1455 to 1487, a conflict for the royal throne was fought between the House of Lancaster (represented by the Red Rose) and the House of York (represented by the White Rose). Since then, roses have been synonymous with England. David Austin was a British rose breeder and writer who lived in Shropshire, England. His emphasis was on breeding roses with the character and fragrance of old garden roses but with the repeat-flowering ability and wide color range of modern roses. Nowadays, if you mention “garden roses” to a florist, they immediately say, “David Austin roses”.
Women’s Day is celebrated in the UK on the 8th of March, as a way to celebrate the role of a woman in all spheres of life. The Brits however also celebrate the day as Mother’s Day (locally). So all the hats a woman dons, from being a mother to being a working professional and spouse, is recognized on this day. It is therefore considered appropriate to gift flowers to all the important women in one’s life on this day. Some of the flowers highlighted include carnations, roses, freesia, iris, lilies, gerberas and sweet pea.
Funerals in the British Isles are occasions of both solemnity and solidarity. Floral arrangements and wreaths therefore play a very important role in the proceedings. Like in most Western cultures, white flowers are considered to be appropriate as flowers of mourning. Therefore lilies, white roses, white carnations and others are considered appropriate funerary tributes. Wreaths and sprays are the preferred style of bouquet as they can be placed directly on the coffin or grave. Inspect the flowers closely; make sure there are no defects in them, as flawed or damaged flowers are considered as a mark of disrespect.
So, when in England, roses are one flower you can never go wrong with! Just make sure the color is appropriate – you wouldn’t send red roses to a coworker, or yellow roses to your significant other.
Next month: India!