Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rosemary, That's For Remembrance

In Tulips For Augusta, Constantijn is forever sending Miss Augusta Brown flowers. But what does it all mean? Heaven bless those obsessive Victorians, they figured it all out for me. They took the term "Say it with flowers' into the realm of high art.

Floriography, communication via the coded messages of flower meanings, is going to clear up Augusta's little tangle:
  • He gives her tulips at first--and I think, since he makes a reference to sunbeams, they must have been yellow. Plug that into our handy dandy Google-inter-tube-nets (clickety-beep): The meaning of tulips is generally perfect love. The meaning of yellow tulips has evolved somewhat, from once representing hopeless love to now being a common expression for cheerful thoughts and sunshine. Where's the fainting couch when you need one?!
  • The second time he sends her tulips they are called 'Bronze Queen'. No particular floriography is attached to this but we can safely assume that Constantin is apologizing handsomely for ever calling her carroty.
  • The third set of flowers is a nicely arranged bunch of sweet peas. Meaning? Delicate or blissful pleasure. Also departure. (Well, he had been gone for a few days...)
  • The last flowers to come are roses along with a note, "written in a laconic style that held no trace of a love letter...and was signed 'Yours, C.'...Even if he was her C., he didn't sound wildly enthusiastic about it." She'd just been proposed to without him telling her that he loved her but had she been a corseted mid-Victorian lass with sausage curls and a well-modulated passion she would have known straight away that roses (we don't know the color) mean 'Love'. Get the smelling salts!
Take that, Cold Sore Susan. If Constantijn had really been ambivalent about becoming engaged to Augusta he would have sent an aspen tree (Lamentation--and admittedly hard to keep in a nurse's home), or Bilberry (Treachery), or dragon plant (Snare), or meadow saffron (My happiest days are past)...

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