One would think, with all the communication tools at our disposal, it would be easy enough to tell someone how you feel—a thumbs-up on Facebook, a heart on Instagram, an emoji sent via text. And yet, as Shane Connolly writes in his new book, Discovering the Meaning of Flowers (Clearview Press, 2017), “we’re still searching for ways to communicate more clearly, individually, and meaningfully.” Connolly, who wowed the world with his inspired designs for the 2011 wedding of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, offers a welcome antidote to the thumb-pecking throngs.
“I feel the human race urgently needs to reconnect with nature. This ancient way of looking at flowers makes us appreciate them more,” he says. By reintroducing floriography (the symbolic meaning of flowers), Connolly reminds readers of the power that specific flowers have to ignite emotions. First discovered in the Turkish Ottoman courts in the 1700s and rising to prominence in buttoned-up Victorian England, the language of flowers has long been used to express feelings that could not be given a voice.
Yes, most people know that red roses mean love, but Connolly ushers readers through a wide array of blossoms that can convey the most subtle thoughts. A basket of jonquils, for example, means, “I wish you would return my affection.” A stem of sweet William asks, “Will you smile?”
In times of joy or sorrow, Connolly argues that the bounty of nature always provides. Our greatest challenge in these contemporary times is not to forget it. Connolly says, “My hope is that this book will inspire people who love flowers and plants to be more aware of their individual qualities and use them with thoughtfulness, in every sense of the word.” —KIRK REED FORRESTER
Don’t miss FLOWER’s profile of Connolly and photos of his royal work in “Shane Connolly, Flower Maestro.”