The Language of Herbs

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I love the old practice of certain herbs carrying some secret meaning. The following comes from another website:

Herbs, as well as flowers and trees have possessed symbolic meaning since classical times, but the idea that flowers could form a language was first introduced into England by Lady Mary Wortley Montague, during a visit to Turkey in 1716. She wrote in a letter to England, 'You may quarrel, reproach, or send letters of passion, friendship, or civility, or even news without inking your fingers.'

Expressing our deepest feelings through a carefully prepared bouquet of flowers and herbs seems a very
romantic gesture. Often they can speak far more eloquently than words, and as a means of conveying love or sorrow there is no more beautiful a language. Symbolic meanings have been attributed to flowers, trees and herbs in both the East and West since early Roman times. The most famous example is the white lily, Lilium candidum, or Madonna lily. Frequently depicted in paintings in the hands of the Virgin Mary, it symbolizes purity and chastity to this day. Likewise, love has long been represented by the rose. Early painters often included specific flowers, trees or herbs in their work, not only for their beauty but also because they conveyed a meaning that complemented the painting as a whole.

In the seventeenth century many women carried little posies of sweet-smelling flowers and herbs-called
tussie mussies-to ward off unpleasant smells and even the plague. These posies had meanings too. The Elizabethans and Victorians attributed meanings to almost every plant, and books abounded on the subject, each claiming to have the most entries and the most up-to-date meanings. As many ' Experts' disagreed on some of the meanings, this resulted in some flowers symbolizing more than one quality…. making it rather hard or perhaps more interesting to decipher the bouquets message!

Here's a nifty site with a pretty comprehensive list of traditional meanings of herbs and flowers (some of them are different from those below).

Here are a list of the "meanings" of some of the herbs and flowers we grow or use:

Dill: good spirits
Marjoram: blushes, joy
Mint: wisdom
Oregano: joy, happiness Parsley: rejoice, festivity
Rosemary: remembrance
Sage: domestic virtue, long life
Sunflower: hautiness
Violet: modesty
Rose: red-passion, love;
pink-beauty, grace;
white-unity, respect, innocence;
yellow-jealousy