Monday, 4 February 2013

The Language of Flowers


I came across this small, almost-square book a couple of years ago courtesy of a table top sale at the local church hall, it was sandwiched amongst pamphlets of train timetables, old ordnance survey maps and yellowing copies of Motorcycle News - when your Dad is a bike and car lover it's easy to recognise the bumpf that goes with them - so it took a little wrestling to pull it free. The spine was so ordinary, I was expecting something similar to a Ladybird book and couldn't have been more surprised when I opened it to find beautiful copies of handwritten pages laid out like a reference book - all explaining the meanings of certain flowers and plants, so sweetly illustrated and painstakingly done. Facsimiles of old books, in lieu of getting my hands on the old editions themselves, are some of my favourite things - I love to see how early copies looked. 

I'd swiftly decided I was more than happy to pay the asking price of 20p, no haggling necessary (sorry, Grandad!), but the lady who had, up until then, been watching me excavate the book box had now disappeared and a man wearing a fur coat (in May?!) wanted to know whether the £10 label on the old, open-faced bike helmet was set in stone. I told him I couldn't do better than £10 because it was pristine and I was happy to take it home again if it didn't sell at that; years of car booting were paying off. He grumbled, made half hearted attempts at a grumpy monologue then picked up the helmet and handed over a crisp £10 note. By this time I'd moved myself behind the table to do a more professional job until 'the lady' came back and when she did, bearing tea, she was ecstatic that I'd flogged the helmet in her absence. She was moving to the south of France it turned out, so was getting rid of as much clutter as she could and planned to spend the money growing lavender once she got there. Good plan, I thought. 20p paid and the book was mine, I was off to buy a Dr Pepper and claim a bench in the park to sit and read. 

I loved the foreword:

'There is a language, 'little known',
Lovers claim it as their own.
It's symbols smile upon the land, 
Wrought by natures 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.'
                                                                                                      
                                                                                                              F.W.H


Taking it out to flick through on a blue day always makes me smile, so much care must have gone into producing the original. I wonder whether F.W.H devised the meanings himself, or whether he researched each one and brought them all together. Whoever F.W.H was, he was clearly devoted to his wife - I can't help but feel touched by a love like that! 

34 comments:

  1. Wow, what an amazing find.

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  2. Such a beautiful book - and the little poem at the end really sets the illustrations and the words in the book alight! I can't believe you managed to snap up such a beautiful painstaking labour of love for 20p...the ultimate find!

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  3. This has to be one of the nicest facsimiles of ANYTHING ive ever seen. its just soooooo amazing and lovely! loved reading the story of how you found it too x

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  4. You find the most gorgeous items!! Lucky girl!

    Jen | sunny sweet pea xx

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  5. I love it! Amazing! Fab I love old books, flowers and anything with old writing on! So i would have been in heaven!!

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  6. I love finding gems like this. I love that it's handwritten!
    Daniella x

    http://daniella-r.blogspot.co.uk

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  7. Just found your blog! beautiful via Vicky Trainor. Your photos are stunning. Will be popping back regularly. :-)

    www.lemonadebesidetheseaside.blogspot.co.uk

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  8. What a truly beautiful book, one to certainly treasure forever. True love is beautiful xxx

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  9. Such an amazing find, truly beautiful.

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  10. You discover the most amazing of finds! This is another beauty :)

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  11. What a lovely story! And such a beautiful book, I can just picture the lady who wrote in it now - I bet she was a lady of leisure who spent her days in her garden and her evenings researching the perfect seeds and bulbs to match. She would say to her husband "Freddy(I'm pretty sure that was his name), what do you think about white and pink tulips for spring?" - and he would absentmindedly reply "hmmmm?", because of course he is distracted by the latest stamp acquired for his collection - and of course, you know, he is ever so slightly deaf in one ear even if he refuses to admit it.

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  12. The best things in life are handmade:)!!!!

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  13. Oh this is so precious. Just casually found your blog and it's delightful :)

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  14. This is such a lovely find! I'm always on the look out for quirky vintage books, this is such a beautiful one!

    Sophs xx

    The Sopho Diaries

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  15. Such a beautiful find, I love the words <3

    I wanted to let you know that I've nominated you for a Liebster Award. It's technically for folk with under 200 followers but I find your blog too beautiful to play by the rules.

    The details are on my blog!

    le fresne x

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  16. Jem,
    What a fantastic little tale, well done you. I haven't stopped by in a while n it's great to see you haven't lost your touch!
    Much love.
    Di
    X

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  17. love that book ..amazing how you got the lady £10
    http://thelittlebigobsession.blogspot.co.uk

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  18. What a stunning little find, the writing and illustrations are just beautiful xoxo

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  19. Beautiful book Jem.....Church fairs are my fave haunt for finding old books

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  20. Surely the best 20 p ever spent! I love the hand written charm and the beautiful illustrations.

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  21. The foreward is so endearing. The writing looks to be hand written too, which always makes it all the more special to have and read it in person. It's like reading it in the presence of the writer.

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  22. Oh gosh, I was really touched by this for some reason. What a beautiful book!

    It was really nice of you to have helped her out.

    - Kayla

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  23. I can just imagine you being quite the expert at making philanthropic sales on behalf of others, Jem! The Robin Hood of the world of beautiful clutter. Such an amazing book. We don't seem to put so much effort into recording flowers these days, do we? If I had a garden of my own I'd certainly keep a diary, and have regular seed swaps. x

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  24. I wish I could have this book! 20p is a steal!! So lovely, I adore hand written things like that. Amazing find xx

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  25. Hi Jem, what a lovely find! I have The Language of Flowers dictionary by Mandy Kirkby based on the novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh of the same name. It is a very pretty book too, but I think your lovely vintage find beats it! The novel is a beautiful and heartbreaking story, have you read it? If not I recommend it! I have written about the novel and the dictionary over on my blog and linked back to your post and lovely pictures here.
    Best, Sarah

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  26. What a lovely find - it's beautiful and a bargain too!

    I read the aforementioned novel 'The Language of Flowers' by Vanessa Diffenbaugh a few weeks ago. I loved it and really recommend it.

    @theWriteRach x

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  27. I am really amazed to read The Language of Flowers dictionary.

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  28. such a lovely poem u posted..;}X the whole post is so warm.
    i have to admit i even copied and written down, very nice;}X



    http://throughartrelatedtofashion.blogspot.com/

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  29. This is lovely. I actually feel i need this in my life.
    Especially reading the novel 'The language of Flowers'. So emotional and beautiful.
    I now feel very strongly about looking into the flower and it's meaning.

    Quite possibly life changing.
    xxx

    Lovely lovely post. --as ever!
    xxx

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  30. I find this so interesting. I recently found a book on this topic in the library (not nearly as beautiful as yours, but with some lovely drawings in it). I thought this custom was just so romantic but also quite mysterious. Wouldn't it be lovely to send a secret message to the one you love in flowers?
    Kate xx
    http://appreciatetheday45.blogspot.com/

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