Red roses say ‘love,’ but what about a peony?

 / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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On Valentine’s Day, flowers are always a special gift from men to women. And while red roses still rule the day, mixed bouquets are popular too. But do men really know what those blossoms are telling their sweethearts? Lisa Benenson, editor-in-chief of Hallmark magazine, was invited on TODAY to give a lesson on what flowers say.

Investing flowers with magical powers and meaning is ancient. The Romantic poets praised flowers. By the Victorian period, the symbolic meaning of flowers had crystallized into a kind of social code. Giving meanings to flowers became a great fad, with various lists circulated and books published to help lovers communicate without saying a word. Courtship was discrete, and within this context flowers served as a secret code. The number of leaves on a branch could tell the time and date of a secret rendezvous. The blooms could tell the emotional content of the exchange.

For instance, while red roses mean the sender loves you, receiving white rosebuds indicate that your erstwhile admirer apparently thinks you don't have a clue about love. Entwining ivy in a bouquet represents marriage and fidelity. A secret admirer might want to try sending peonies: they symbolize bashfulness and tell your secret Valentine that you'll reveal yourself in time — however they can also symbolize shame. A yellow chrysanthemum means slighted love.  Including grasses in a bouquet means the sender is submissive. The white lily means you're modest and pure, but a yellow one means you're lying. Bits of pine in a bouquet imply pity. The peach blossom: I am your captive.

Some people today are aware of the meaning of flowers, and it's entertaining to look at them from the perspective of what they might actually be saying. Here's what some of the flowers you might be sending (or receiving) this Valentine's Day really mean:

  • Bird of Paradise: Something wonderful is about to happen
  • Chrysanthemum: Hope in dark times
  • Ferns: Fascination
  • Gerbera Daisy: Purity
  • Grasses in a bouquet mean the sender is submissive
  • Hydrangea: You've been boastful
  • Ivy: Marriage and fidelity.
  • Jasmine: Good luck
  • Jonquils (a kind of daffodil): Please love me
  • Lavender: I don't trust you
  • Lilac: First love
  • Orchid: Ecstasy
  • Peony: I'm bashful!
  • Pine implies pity
  • Red Rose: Love
  • Red Tulips: Declaration of love
  • Rosemary: Remembrance
  • Sweet Pea: Lasting pleasure
  • White Lily: Innocence
  • White Rose: Purity
  • Yellow Carnations: Disdain, rejection
  • Yellow Lily: You're lying
  • Yellow Rose: Jealousy
  • Violet: Faithfulness

If you'd like more information about the meanings of flowers, visit www.hallmark.com.

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