I’ve been interested in Floriography, or the Language of Flowers since I read Hamlet in grade twelve and learned that flowers have meanings. It’s taken me quite a few years to actually read a book on it but this one certainly won’t be my last.
I haven’t read Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers which this book acts as a companion to but I’m more interested in now. I really enjoyed the detail in Kirkby’s A Victorian Flower Dictionary is very detailed on the different types of flowers and their meanings. As well as through explanations on some of the flowers Kirkby also includes a dictionary with a list of both the illustrated and a number of flowers not included in the illustrations with their meanings. I enjoyed the longer dictionary but would have preferred more illustrations and detail for each flower. I understand that a lot of flowers have similar meanings, but with all the flowers included in the dictionary I felt like it was a lost opportunity to really understand the history of the flowers. I also wonder with how they were organized in the book, the flowers were listed alphabetically which works for readers skimming back to find a particular flower but I wonder if by theme would have been better and helped with any repetitions, like a section for love, for grief and sadness, for anger, and organizing it that way may have helped with any flowers with similar meanings. I also enjoyed the small section on bouquets and would have liked to see that section expanded as well.
And while the illustrations are lovely I do think calling them lavish is a bit of a stretch. They’re beautiful but more minimalist, luckily I enjoy minimalist illustrations and liked the simple designs but they’re definitely not as detailed as illustrations of flowers could be.
Overall, this is a lovely little companion and one I plan on buying to keep up my own interest in the language of flowers and continuing to find more books on the subject. A Victorian Flower Dictionary is a great beginners book for anyone interested in starting to learn about the Language of Flowers and I can’t wait to find more to continue my research on floriography.
Publication: January 1st 2011
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 192 pages (Hardcover)
Genre: Non-fiction, Nature
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
“Daffodils signal new beginnings, daisies innocence. Lilacs mean the first emotions of love, periwinkles tender recollection. Early Victorians used flowers as a way to express their feelings—love or grief, jealousy or devotion. Now, modern-day romantics are enjoying a resurgence of this bygone custom, and this book will share the historical, literary, and cultural significance of flowers with a whole new generation. With lavish illustrations, a dual dictionary of flora and meanings, and suggestions for creating expressive arrangements, this keepsake is the perfect compendium for everyone who has ever given or received a bouquet.”