Floral Mixtape: How to Say ‘You Bring Me Joy’ in the Victorian Language of Flowers

We first stumbled onto the Victorian language of flowers while we were planning our wedding in 2008: lavender roses for “pure love,” tuberoses for “sweet voices,” etc., etc. (Three- to five-year-old nephews walking down the aisle with delicate vines of ivy to symbolize fidelity, though=Better in theory than in practice.)

Like we mentioned in our last floriography post, “tussie-mussies” of thoughtfully chosen flowers were used to convey messages during the Victorian era, including suggested times of secret dates. Charming! In our own relentlessly candid era, we think a little bit of plant-inspired restraint could be kind of nice. So we’ve decided to start a semi-regular thing called Tussie-Mussie Tuesday.

A bouquet is worth a thousand words. While I was researching plants to include in our first tussie-mussie, I learned that oregano means joy — which reminded me of a song that I love, “You Bring Me Joy” by Mary J. Blige. It’s from her 1994 landmark album My Life.

The rest of the bouquet came together from there: The ranunculus I got from the florist says, according to the Victorians, “I am dazzled by your charms.” (Or, says Mary J. Blige, “Boy, you’ve got it going on.”) The white flowers of the star of Bethlehem evoke, according to the Victorians, “reconciliation” and “purity.” (Or, says Mary J. Blige, “I don’t want to fuss and fight” and “You know my love is for real.”)


Cuban oregano, an interesting succulent herb, also goes by Indian borage and Spanish thyme.

For the herb we used the succulent and ultra-aromatic Cuban oregano from our vertical herb garden.

We joined these three cut plants together and arranged them to create the message of “You bring me joy…so let’s never fight again, you charming creature” and placed our bouquet inside a simple mason jar. After all, tussie-mussies are meant to be spontaneous, heartfelt and easy to give away. —TH


For this posy you just need, from left to right: star of Bethlehem, ranunculus, oregano and a simple vase. (We grabbed a medium-size mason jar.)