The language of flowers, or floriography, refers to the magical art of using florals to express how you feel. With roots in Persia and the Middle East, it really bloomed in tight-laced Victorian England, where people used flowers to whisper words that were too taboo to speak aloud. While often declarations of love or courtship, bouquets could also carry less-than-savory messages of contempt or ill will.
Meaning varied with shape and shade; a collection of delphiniums, hydrangeas, oleander, basil, and birdsfoot trefoil chastised the recipient as heartless, while lupins, hollyhocks, white heather, and ragged robin was synonymous with a good luck card. Floriography dictionaries helped the upper class decode the messages buried in each petal.
To learn about how this romantic tradition translates to today's age of texting, Tinder, and Hallmark, we called on Manhattan's resident floral artist, Denise Porcaro, whose whimsical bouquets have dotted pretty much every quintessential New York spot imaginable and graced the pages of Elle, Vogue, and Food + Wine over the course of her decade-plus career. Her downtown shop, aptly named Flower Girl, is an oasis of artisanal treats, handmade soaps, herbal candles—and a feast of fresh, seasonal plants, of course.