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Language of love is in bloom

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Posted: Friday, February 10, 2006 5:34 am

If you’re thinking about buying yellow roses for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, you might want consider the hidden message.

In the language of flowers, a yellow rose can mean jealousy, infidelity or bad luck. Not exactly the sentiment of Valentine’s Day.

Since antiquity people have used flowers to send messages when a meeting was impossible (think of it as a sweet-smelling version of text messaging).

The folks at Boyce Thompson Arboretum have deciphered this ancient code. The Language of Flowers will exhibit these flowers and their meanings today through Valentine’s Day.

For example, a gardenia meant “I love you in secre,t” while a white rose meant “I am worthy of you.” Of course, meanings vary among cultures, and some flowers have multiple meanings.

Flowers as language originated in the Persian “Selam,” a collection of poems that used flowers and plants to convey meanings, according to “The Language of the Flowers” by Carol D. Crosswhite. How the custom reached the West is much debated.

Some sources say King Charles of Sweden became fluent in the language of flowers while crusading in Turkey in the 1700s. Romantics prefer the version in which a French woman popularized the “Selam” in a book written under a pen name.

As the language moved from one country to the next, the meanings changed. Each country published its own books on the subject. The language of flowers reached its zenith in the Victorian age, when flowers and gardening in general were popular. At this time several books on the subject were published in the U.S. and Europe.

In addition to pleasing the olfactory nerves, the event will also cater to your sweet tooth. Sample chocolates from the Glendale-based Cerreta Candy Co.

Language of flowers Hibiscus: Delicate beauty Wild honeysuckle: Inconstancy Purple hyacinth: Sorrow Iris: Faith, wisdom and valor Red rose: Passion, love and desire Ivy: Fidelity, marriage and friendship Spanish jasmine: Sensuality

If you go

What: Chocolate tasting and flower show

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Feb. 14. Chocolate table is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Boyce Thompson Arboretum, 37615 U.S. 60, near Superior

Cost: Admission is $7.50 adults, $3 children ages 5 to 12. Chocolate tastings are 50 cents each or three for $1. Information: (520) 689-2811 or

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