Roses and the Language of Flowers

by Laura Knoerr June 08, 2017 2 min read

June and roses go together. That seems to be when the best of them are at their peak. A few summers ago, my husband and I were privileged to visit the Rose Garden in Lincoln, Nebraska with hundreds of different kinds of roses. It was a nice hot day, which truly brings out their scents. I enjoyed going from variety to variety and taking a big whiff of each. My husband was so patient with me! Amazingly, each variety had its own distinctive scent and overtones. I remember that a small pink single petal variety won my heart that day.

I don’t know if it’s merely because of their intoxicating scent, or if roses gain their popularity from their good looks. But, many famous sayings and lyrics stem from roses: 

‘that which we call a rose            

By any other name would smell as sweet.’ Shakespeare

‘A rose is a rose is a rose.’ Gertrude Stein

‘Stop and smell the roses.’ Colloquial saying

‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.’ Robert Herrick

“Everything’s Coming Up Roses!” - from Gypsy: A Musical Fable

In the Victorian language of flowers, when men and women had more difficulty communicating, sending flowers conveyed specific messages. For instance, different varieties of roses had different meanings. A red rose meant “I love you” (thus a dozen long stemmed red roses meant a whole lotta love!); a yellow rose implied jealousy and infidelity (but I love them anyway!); white roses (often used in wedding bouquets) symbolized purity; pink roses were considered an expression of admiration; and red and white variegated roses proclaimed unity and togetherness as in the "York and Lancaster" roses developed to commemorate the end of the English Wars of the Roses.

Whether you want to speak the language of flowers or enjoy their language of scent, roses in your garden are an asset. I find their blooms relaxing, or, when brought inside, use them to scent a room, or cut them to make a lovely gift bouquet.

If you have a shady yard or just haven’t had good luck with roses, you might want to use a floral garden flag for a splash of color or to enjoy the vision of roses. FlagsRUs has some great choices.


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