Today, flowers of every variety...mostly roses...are delivered to that special someone today. Red roses are probably exchanged more than any other flower and mean true love. The receipt of such a flower following an introduction at a ball could create a stir back in the day. They were probably not sent unless that was the intended emotion. However, a flower we use more like a ground cover today– the pansy—means "you occupy my thoughts." That could have been a promising flower to receive in the early 1800s. In contrast, candytuft means indifference, which would have been a disappointing flower to receive from a prospect.
My mother has always enjoyed carnations. They are pretty and make up many prom and wedding arrangements today. I have serious doubt that the young lady today ponders the meaning beyond the fact that they are pretty and they match her dress. But should she take seriously the meaning of yellow carnations which signifies “you disappoint me,” her sentiment would more likely to have been tearful instead of fanciful, as proms of today go.
There is more to the lore of flowers than just their color or beauty. Take, for example, a favorite of mine— lilacs. Their scent is delicious and means spring is here. I have a lilac tree that I have nurtured, more because it is an offshoot of my mother’s lilac bush. I think they smell lovely and I keep the bush pruned in my backyard (they can grow quite large, up to twenty-five feet or more, so pruning is sensible). However, there is so much more to the lilac.
The history and meaning behind the flower touch music, luck, death, young love, medicine, and air purification. The lilac’s notoriety began during the time of the Ancient Greeks who associated the flower with music. The story goes that the god Pan was crazy about a certain woodland nymph. Determined to have her, he chased her endlessly. To escape his attention, she dashed into the woods and disguised herself into a lilac to escape his unwanted devotion.
Their placement is a clue to other important uses for the lilacs. Throughout the United Kingdom and in America lilac bushes have spurious plantings, often found at the perimeter of a property. Frequently their appearance looks out of step with the rest of the yard. I noticed this when my daughter lived in New Hampshire. The lilac was almost part of every landscape. The reason for the unusual placement was because of the usefulness of its strong fragrance. They were often planted over the graves of miscarried children (as markers, but also to hide the smell of decaying flesh). Probably for the same reason, lilac bushes dot graveyards. Their use as an original air freshener, as it were, was invaluable. You can still see them planted adjacent to where household outhouses and the like had been placed, normally at the edge of a property, away from delicate noses. When the outhouse moved, another lilac bush was planted. When I see the old farmhouses that have been around for a long time (100 plus years), it’s fun to note the lilac bushes dotting the property.
Old British lore (still existing during the Regency Era) considered lilacs unlucky. And purple lilacs were thought to bring more bad luck than the white. A cluster of either color lilacs was considered to bring certain death to an otherwise healthy home—not exactly a flower to use with an acquaintance one wished to court.
Oddly, their luck changed during the reign of Queen Victoria. The Victorians believed even more strongly in the language of flowers and considered Lilacs symbolized the first feelings of love. White lilacs were highly valued as they signified the innocence of youth.
In America, during the same period, the lilac found its way into medicinal uses. It was used to combat malaria, kill and expel worms from humans (and animals), and used in a boiled form to cure certain facial skin conditions. I would imagine this was an old acne cure.
There is so much more to say about colors, uses, and superstitions where flowers are concerned, and I could go on, certain to hit a flower dear to you. However, you can query the attached references for your special flower’s meaning.