Flowers were used for centuries to communicate thoughts, feelings and sentiments. The Victorian Era, 1837 to 1901, moved this custom into an art form and proper etiquette. The restrained atmosphere of the Victorian Era created a need for a discrete way to express one's emotions and sentiments. All flowers and the combinations, number of flowers and colors were imbued with a particular meaning. A gift of a bouquet or flower became a coded message creating intrigue. This was called the secret code of floriography. The Language of Flowers was published in London in 1884 and became the first reference book for decoding the hidden messages. Floriography dictionaries soon became common place and were given as New Year's gifts. These charming books were the predecessors of the literary almanac.
A single red rose would say "love" but when presented with baby's breath and ferns it would mean sincere and everlasting love. Flowers presented in an upright position represented a positive opinion. If given with the right hand the bouquet would be a "yes" to a question, left hand represented a "no." There were many nuances to the carnation, pink - I'll never forget you, red - my heart aches for you, striped - refusal or I cannot be with you, purple - whimsical, fickle, and white - sweet, lovely, good luck to a woman. Flowers are still used to express our feelings of love, friendship, appreciation and sympathy and the receiver of flowers no long needs a code book to decipher their meaning.