Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Book Review: The Language of Flowers

By Vanessa Diffenbaugh

When planning your wedding, your choice of florals is bound to be one of the most important decisions you make.  There are so many things to keep in mind: colors, seasonality, femininity versus masculinity, casual versus formal… the list goes on and on.  Another fun and interesting facet you may want to consider is The Language of Flowers that your choice of florals historically conveys.

In Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s novel entitled The Language of Flowers, she tells the story of a troubled young woman named Victoria who has spent her entire childhood in and out of foster care. In happier times, Victoria spent a significant amount of time living with a foster parent named Elizabeth, who spent hours tending to her garden and teaching Victoria all about the language of flowers.  She learns that in the Victorian era, certain flowers held special significance.  Traditionally, men would send flowers to women they were courting in order to convey their feelings and intentions.  Some carried positive connotations and some signified the end of their relationship.

Having never felt unconditionally loved, Victoria seems determined to live a life of solitude after her emancipation at the age of 18.  She continues to navigate the world, eventually reconnecting with a childhood friend whom she learns to trust and finding work with a florist who sees something unique and special in Victoria.  As she continues to explore and study the language of flowers, she finds her way in the world by ‘prescribing’ arrangements for clients for special events and occasions.

The Language of Flowers is a deeply moving and heartfelt book, which takes readers on journey of sadness, hope and eventual happiness.  One of the reasons we enjoyed the book so much is because it encouraged us to look at flowers from an entirely different perspective.  As planners, we found The Language of Flowers to be a thought provoking and fascinating new way of examining floral design for special events.

This captivating book comes complete with ‘Victoria’s Dictionary of Flowers’, which outlines the meaning of a plethora of common and exotic flowers.  Here are some of our favorites:

Dahlia (Dahlia)… dignity

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus)… protection

Freesia (Freesia)… lasting friendship

Honeysuckle (Lonicera)… devotion

Orchid (orchidaceae)… refined beauty

Rose, purple (Rosa)… enchantment

Strawberry (Fragaria)… perfection

Tulip (Tulipia)… declaration of love

More about this book:  Diffenbaugh, Vanessa. The Language of Flowers: A Novel. New York: Ballantine, 2011.