Copyright © 2000 Robert G. Ferrell

A Guide to Flower Writing

One of the factors that may have contributed significantly to the image of the Medieval period as the "Dark Ages" was the birth and subsequent flourishing of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the inventor or at least principal proponent of the perfectly ludicrous practice of Courtly Love, whose icy grip has flung many an otherwise reasonably well-adjusted young person into the throes of lifelong neurosis.

There were many symptoms of Courtly Love, and the one I choose to explore here is floragraphy, the art of communicating with decapitated flowers. The basic premise was this: you wanted to talk to Lord Smelly-Smythe, but his mother (wife, whatever) didn't think much of the idea. She walled him up in the North Tower, and only let him out on alternate Tuesdays to change the combs in the beehive. The only way you can think of to communicate with him is to float flowers down the stream that runs past his window (maybe you aren't good enough with a bow and arrow to whang a note in through the window). The order and species of the buds conveys your meaning, and civilization is saved.

Vigorously sidestepping the looming question of what happens if he doesn't get the entire message, or if the current jumbles the order (or wipes part of it out), let us go on to construct our own floral dictionary, so that we too may participate in this efficient and reliable means for revealing our hormones to the world. There seems to be controversy over the interpretations of a number of the flowers, I should add, so I have taken the liberty of rendering my own, more realistic and useful, glossary of meanings. I hope you are prepared.

Acacia: Let go of my bodice.
Almond: You must be nuts.
Apple: You have gone to seed.
Azalea: At least take off your leggings!
Basil: I have nose hairs more attractive than you.
Begonia: Isn't it interesting how that portrait has holes where the eyes should be?
Bluebell: Let's get ice cream.
Bramble: Okay, I should have taken off my leggings first.
Broom: Will you come over and clean my house?
Carnation (Pink): I want you.
Carnation (Red): Here. Now. Drop 'em.
Carnation (White): Sorry, I thought you were someone else.
Clover: I brought the honey.
Coriander: I guess your skin will clear up eventually.
Cowslip: I have this weird craving to dress up in bovine undergarments.
Dandelion: Go away. .. you make me sneeze.
Goldenrod: I only have hives for you.
Hemlock: I drank what?
Lavender: Let's take a bath together.
Lilac: No really, I'm a virgin. Ask my husband.
Marigold: That must be why they call you "inchworm."
Mint: Your breath would knock over a ballista.
Mistletoe: Don't you ever pay for your own meals?
Orange Blossom: Can I borrow your viola?
Peony: Why didn't you go before we left?
Rose: That'll be five dollars. Hurry, before the light changes.
Rosemary: I just can't keep track of that kid.
Thyme: Where did all these flies come from?
Violet: I don't know...I just don't think the soup should be that color.

I have to petal out of here now, bud don't think you've given me the slip. Remember, nothing exceeds like excess.