Some of you will remember my original story about that wonderful little book called, The Language of Flowers…a small quaint book, detailed in the most simple yet decorated hand painting. I first discovered this book while staying with a dear family in Atlanta, and when I first picked it up I knew it was not like any other book I had ever seen. It looked like one of a kind, a once off created manuscript, printed for one reader, for one love, for the eyes of one beholder. I felt privileged to even hold it.
I flicked though the front pages, and soon discovered that I was not far from the truth in my observations. It was indeed a very special little book. Before my eyes, were lots of hand drawings of flowers, names inserted in a calligraphy pen, and then lists and lists of flowers, and the reason one may give them to another. It grabbed my heart. How happy I was that it had been so nicely arranged where it was, so that some guest or family member may be warmed by its presence. Looking back now, it couldn’t have found a more loving or deserving home, than the one in which I discovered it.
Well this is my exciting sequel to that beautiful romantic story. Since I originally wrote about this book on Valentine’s Day, I thought another Valentine’s Day would be the perfect time to reveal some beautiful details about the author and this book.
After my previous story about this book, I received an incredible letter from Laurie (who’s mother was the object of love, for whom this precious book was written) Laurie is now custodian of the book, and wished me to know some more details about it…so please read on to learn of the gorgeous gems I was sent to share with you.
Thanks for your prompt reply. I will try to give you as much information as I have regarding the book, The Language of Flowers, and its history. The author was F.W.L (Frederik Lucas) a Jew who was my mother’s (Margaret Florence Jean Pickston) grandfather. I know little about his life although he was an artist of some standing and my mother says his work was in the Royal Academy of Art, but I cannot confirm that yet as it needs more research.
Now this book was never meant to be published and was written for his wife as a token of love, for I believe an anniversary (in 1913) or birthday from, ” Father to Mother”. How long it took him is not known but would assume some time as he secretly undertook his work every evening after his wife retired to bed. For years it lay in pieces in my Grandfather’s clothes drawer, gathering dust, until 1967/1968. My parents were at a party, when polite conversation turned to the little book, and by chance a gentleman overheard who worked for Micheal Joseph, the book publishers.
He explained he was most interested in seeing the book as Michael Joseph had not published a book like this before. So the book was sent to London and rebound/restored to its former glory, including its original handmade leather dust jacket. Then the first copy went to print on 10/10/1968, which also happened to be when I was born.
You will see numerous mistakes in the book such as paint brush marks on pages and written mistakes. A little known fact is that this book was entirely illustrated by paint brush, including all the meanings of the plants, with the exception being the forwarding poem to mother. I am not sure if the book is still in print as Penguin books have taken over and produced a run a few years back to send to every library in the U.S.A. I hope this long letter builds a picture in your mind about what I call “the little book” AKA The Language of Flowers.
I am sure when this loving gentleman worked secretly on this labour of love for his wife, that he had no idea just how very loved it would be, by his wife and so many others. Today, may you find a labour of love to embrace, and make it your absolute passion to share it with the world. Someday I hope to make it to London and hold the original in my hands, so watch out for part three to The language of Flowers saga.
Today I want to introduce a new writer on the block, and in the theme of love and romance it seems only right that he share a beautiful love story with you… Take it away Andy! It is a pleasure to have you write your first (of many) blogs on my watch. Denise
“Is This Love?”
by Andy Patton
“Is This Love?” If you are anything like me or grew up in the 80s, when you read those words your mind was instantly transported back to the year 1987, and you began to hum the tune to that classic ballad by Whitesnake.
When I first saw her it wasn’t love… or was it? When I first talked to her it wasn’t love… well maybe it was… no it definitely wasn’t. I know it wasn’t, because I couldn’t understand most of what she said! Not because she was soft spoken, shy or timid. In fact, just the opposite. Honestly, it was her thick Dublin accent that held me at bay and forced me to nod, smile and pathetically attempt to piece together the few words I did understand.
She was full of life and it manifested itself in the fast paced manner in which she bounded into conversation. It flowed from her lips with such ease and joy. She welcomed the opportunity to share her delight and vigor for life with any who would engage her. Desiring to express her glee with life, her conversation seemed to gain speed the more she talked!
That morning she had gathered with several ladies for their customarily tea and talk, and I stumbled into the kitchen looking for a bucket and sponge. Being a 20 – something young man of course she captured my eye, but I fought desperately not to ogle. I do believe I eeked out a disastrously awkward “good morning” greeting as I hurried to disappear. All the while, it was her carefree poise that silently screamed at my heart.
Was there any doubt I was an American in Dublin? Could she tell that I was from a far distant mysterious place called New England? Could she know without me saying a word that I was instantly drawn to her?
I hoped so….
As the next week unfolded, I found myself more and more in her company. Each time I felt a bit bolder to interact with her. Now mind you, I wasn’t intimidated, but excited to hear what new adventures or experiences life had brought her since we last chatted. Okay maybe I was smitten. Her brown eyes sparkled and her smile was intoxicating. But at least, I could now grasp most of the conversation. Either I had honed my listening skills or she had slowed down her talking speed, or maybe a combination of both. At any rate I was enjoying every second of it.
Is this Love? Well maybe the start of it, for me at least. What I had discovered was all that I had encountered, all that I had been privileged to experience during my times with her, it wasn’t special to her, it was normal. She was just being her! I realized the interaction I had with her was the connection that everyone had with her. Not because of them and their efforts, but hers. She loved people of all shapes, sizes and colors. She just simply loved being around and involved in the lives of the people she came in contact with, anywhere and any time. That is what I loved first about her. Love is a two way street and are these two people, moving in opposite directions, willing to step off the sidewalk? After all it had only been a week!
Are you serious? Come on! Could that have really happened? I must have been dreaming! Was I? For more than a week I had been chatting off and on with this wonderful young woman, and she had captivated me with her zest for life. She cherished each moment of each day and that trickled down to anyone she spoke to, myself included.
We had spent lunches in cafés with friends, bowling events with fellow team members and site-seeing tours around various attractions in the city. Our conversations were centered on our cultures, young adult life in our respective countries and our families. I was staying with a host family outside the city center, which required me to catch a bus each evening.
My routine was to hop on and make my way upstairs to the top deck so I could take in the sights from a better vantage point. From there I could witness the bustling streets filled with pedestrians, cyclists and peddlers, I was enamored with it all.
Most journeys my mind retraced my steps of the day, and many of them guided me back to my daily communiqué with the energetic, inspiring woman I was growing so fond of. I found myself wanting to extend our get-togethers in order to spend more time getting to know her. Talking with her was effortless and time seemed to stand still when I was around her.
One evening early on in my summer long adventure, I was actively engaging life with my host family. Our talks ranged from me trying to fit into their culture, to learning the slang vocabulary and decoding their accents. I figured the more I talked with them the easier it would be to understand the people I would meet during my travels in town each day… after all it was English they were speaking so I just needed to listen more than I talked.
On that memorable night my I learned more about their family than I could have imagined. First of all they had five kids… Up until that point I had only known the two youngest. The older three were moved out of the house. The two older sons were living in England and their oldest lived in the city with a couple of roommates. As I shared my family dynamic of having three older sisters and no brothers, they related that their family makeup was just the reverse. There was one girl and four brothers. I was the youngest and their daughter was the oldest. I remember thinking I haven’t even seen family photos around the house to tip me off to how many children they actually had.
They told me all about the their kids as they were growing up and we laughed at similar stories of childhood. Then they pulled out a few photos to introduce me to the three older kids I had not yet met, obviously the two older boys were out of country so they didn’t see them much. Their daughter had not come by to visit, at least when I was there. As they showed me pictures of her when she was little and progressively through her younger years.
She looked familiar, so familiar I felt as though I knew her. Then came one photo that had been taken a few months prior to me arriving. To my amazement…it was her! The girl that so captured my near every thought, the girl that sauntered into my life nearly two weeks ago. I was living in her old bedroom and eating evening meals and enjoying laughter filled chats with her dad and mom!
To be continued…
More of this wonderful story soon so stay tuned… Andy
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS¸.•*”✤✤By Denise Kennedy There is a language, ‘little known,’
Lovers claim it as their own.
Its symbols smile upon the land,
Wrought by nature’s wondrous hand;
And in their silent beauty speak
Of life and joy, to those who seek
For love divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers.—
From a handmade booklet given as a gift from husband to wife, 1913 (by Father)
One upon a time…in a land not so far away, well OK I won’t start it like a typical fairytale because this one is actually a real story. Anyway, as I was saying, I Denise, made a very exciting trip, to visit some very special people in Atlanta, in the good ole USA! Well truth be told, I visited this loving and gorgeous home more than once, but it was on my first visit there, that I discovered, among many other beautiful things, this wonderful book I want to introduce you to today. It being Valentine’s Day, it seems the perfect day to do so.
It was not long after I had arrived to stay in this beautiful Southern household in the suburbs of Atlanta, that this book caught my eye. It was a stunning summer day and I was thoroughly enjoying the South, from amazing home cooked recipes to incredible wildlife, wonderful laughter and peaceful walks. My camera seemed to be never out of my giddy hands. The lady of the house, loves books as much as I, and indeed I had the opportunity of reading lots of her books during the weeks that I spent in their beautiful home. Miss Charlotte has the warmest nature, and it was wonderful whenever she handed me a new book to try, she knew full well that it would capture my heart as it had hers, and her choices were always perfect. She and her darling husband share a taste for the deep things of the heart, and indeed, when I think about the love they have for each other and the heritage they share as a family, it is so fitting that the book I discovered should find a home with them.
So this particular day, a small book, with lots of flowers on the cover, grabbed my attention instantly. It was sitting on a little cabinet shelf, alongside some Southern Living magazines, if my memory serves me right. It was quaint and detailed in the most simple yet decorated handwriting that I had ever seen in a published piece of literature. I picked it up, almost afraid to damage it, seeing straight away that this was not like any other book I had seen. It looked like one of a kind, a once off created manuscript, printed for one reader, for one love, for the eyes of one beholder. I felt privileged to even hold it. I flicked though the front pages, and soon discovered that I was not far from the truth in my observations. It was indeed a very special little book. Before my eyes, were lots of hand drawings of flowers, names inserted in a calligraphy pen, and then lists and lists of flowers, and the reason one may give them to another. It grabbed my heart. How happy I was that it had been so nicely arranged where it was, so that some guest or family member may be warmed by its presence. Looking back now, it couldn’t have found a more loving or deserving home, than the one in which I discovered it.
We were just about to leave the house to go sightseeing around Atlanta, so I set the book back where I had found it, with a promise to myself that I would have another look at it later. So, every day, at different times, I would take that little book carefully in my hands and read a little more. So many flowers were mentioned, some I had never heard of before, and opposite each name, was a beautiful description of the language or meaning behind the gift of that flower. I loved it! It was adorable, romantic, intimate, and so delicate. It made me smile to think that someone had gone to great lengths to create such a loving piece, to convey to another the romance and language of the flower of love in their own heart.
So about the book ~ Many reviews say it was created by Margaret Pickston, in 1968, but research has shown me otherwise. This is a review written by Margaret herself, about this book; “The Meaning Of Flowers, is a beautiful little book, full of romance and love. ~ It was a present from my Father to Mother on their golden wedding anniversary. Instead of buying her a brooch or bracelet, he hit upon the happy plan of writing and illustrating a little book for her, which has now been resurrected from some forgotten drawer and published in this newer edition.”
Another beautiful review follows; “The original author gave an unusual dictionary of the traditional meanings (as well as some dreamed up by himself) of over 700 flowers is reminiscent of a gentler era when people found time to express their affection in an individual way. A family heirloom for decades, it has been reproduced in England with the family’s permission. Charmingly hand-scripted with delicate water coloured flowers and plants bordering each page, the author’s comprehensive list ranges from abatina (fickleness) to zinnia (thoughts of absent friends), and embraces such unlikely plants as the potato (benevolence), rhubarb (advice) and a branch of currants (you please all). His list of roses is most impressive – forty different kinds and colours, each with its own meaning. Who Father is must remain a secret. All we know is that Mother and he celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on August 8, 1913 and that his initials were F.W.L.” (taken from http://www.etsy.com)It has been quoted by one writer as the essential guide for those of us who prefer the flowers to do the talking, but you don’t want to choose the wrong bouquet and send the wrong message. For example, you could give your lady almond blossoms – meaning ‘hope’ – but don’t ever give her almonds with them (even if they are chocolate coated), as they symbolise ‘stupidity’! =)
…So, it was indeed Margaret’s Father who was the creator of this little book, it was born out of love for his darling wife. (I was right when I said it felt like one of a kind) Then later his daughter, Margaret recreated it and had it published in her name. I have been unable to find the original lists of the flowers represented in this beautiful book, and also the list is exhaustive so I cannot quote them all here for you. It seems quite a rare book to even get your hands on. So here is a short list of the meaning of some gift flowers many choose! ~ I hope you enjoy! =) The opening quote at the beginning of my story, is what was inscribed by Father to his wife, it is contained in this image here to the right —–>
Before I leave you to read through the list, let me just say a heartfelt thank you to a beautiful Southern family, who allowed me the pleasure of sharing their company and loving kindness. A flower is a symbol of many things, and some people have the gift of letting it bloom in every season. Thanks, you know who you are! x Nisey¸.•*”✤✤