The Language of Flowers – Designing a Love Garden

Upon a good friend’s recommendation I recently read the book “The Language of Flowers: A Novel” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The novel is set in San Francisco and North Bay wine country. A confused, self-sabotaging 18-year-old woman, freshly ejected from the foster care system, struggles to find her way in the world of work, responsibilities and love. She struggles with homelessness, a guilty conscience and depression. Armed with a brilliant botanical mind and a passionate interest in flower symbolism she finds self-forgiveness, meaningful relationships and a degree of financial success as a florist specializing in the language of flowers.

According to Wikipedia, The language of flowers is a cryptic communication system that utilizes flowers as the alphabet of choice. Around the globe many traditional cultures have attributed meaning to particular flowers. During the eighteen-hundreds, floral communication skyrocketed in Victorian England and the United States. “Gifts of blooms, plants, and specific floral arrangements were used to send a coded message to the recipient, allowing the sender to express feelings which could not be spoken aloud in Victorian society.”

I was reading this book in February around Valentine’s Day and I got to thinking it might be fun to design a Love Garden. Let’s say you want a spot in your garden to meditate on love. Maybe you want to bring more love into your life. Or perhaps you want to better appreciate the relationships you have. You might just wish there was more love and less hardship in the world.

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Find a little plot of soil in full sun.
  2. Amend your soil very well with compost.
  3. Add drip irrigation.
  4. Purchase some love plants. See below. Meanings in bold face.
  5. Wait for a sunny day when you are in a good mood to install your plants. Add mulch.
  6. Find a little bench or chair and place it in front of your garden so you can watch it grow and thrive.

Loving plant palette:

  1. Pink Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus). Pure Love. I will never forget you. Evergreen. Nice scent. Low edging plant.

    By Zeynel Cebeci (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

  2. Dwarf Myrtle (Myrtis communis “Compacta”). Love. Evergreen. Maintain at 2-3’ tall, Might want to get taller. Don’t let it. White flowers.

    By Ziegler175 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

  3. Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus). Joy in Love and Life. Annual. Often self-seeds. Buy taller cultivars that grow 3-4’ tall. Pink and white flowers.

    By Love Krittaya (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  4. Red Rose. Love. Any red rose that grows 4-5’ tall. Ask at your nursery. I think a pinky-red would be best in this arrangement. Deciduous woody shrub.

    Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4259976

  5. White Rose. A Heart Acquainted with Love. Any white rose that grows 4-5’ tall. Deciduous woody shrub.

    By Jebulon (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

  6. Small Focal Point Tree – Maintain a smaller tree so it doesn’t shade out the love-fest understory.
    1. Dwarf Linden Tree (Tilia cordata “Lico Dwarf” or “Green Globe”. Conjugal Love. Deciduous OR

      By AnRo0002 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

    2. Hawthorn Tree (Crataegus sp.) Love, Protection, Hope.

      By Dominicus Johannes Bergsma (Own work)[CC BY-SA 4.0 Commons

Final Note: This is a moderate water using plant palette. Enjoy its meaning and beauty but remember to balance your water budget with low water use plants in the rest of your garden!

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