Roses are red and violets are blue… and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s a sure bet that a whole lot of roses, and perhaps some violets, too, will be given as tokens of love and affection. However there’s more to flowers than endearment.

While many of us may have suspected it, science has proved that roses — and flowers in general — strengthen feelings of compassion and decrease worry and anxiety. Plus they look mighty nice, too.

The Society of American Florists’ online newsletter, “About Flowers,” reports that “Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, reveals that people feel more compassionate toward others, have less worry and anxiety, and feel less depressed when fresh cut flowers are present in the home.”

“As a psychologist, I’m particularly intrigued to find that people who live with flowers report fewer episodes of anxiety and depressed feelings,” Etcoff says in the newsletter. “Our results suggest that flowers have a positive impact on our well being.

” In addition, …the study found that people were more likely to feel happier and have more enthusiasm and energy at work when flowers were in their home living environments.”

That’s a lot of mileage from a few posies.

But hold on, there’s even more to flowers than you might have thought. If you believe that it’s only the rose that speaks the language of love, think again. Certainly those red roses — and violets, too — speak volumes, but there’s a whole “language” of flowers devised long ago by those ever-romantic Victorians, and it covers a rainbow of blooms from apple blossoms to zinnias and lots in between. Those Victorians may have been sentimental, but they were straight-laced too and speaking one’s mind in that era was often done in code or even in secret. That’s how the language of flowers developed as flowers were innocently given, but with hidden meanings attached. For today’s tongue-tied (or just romantic) sweethearts that language still speaks.

A single variety or an assortment of blooms or colors can be selected and combined to convey a specific message. And what a delightful way to send a note of love. For those interested in the historic meanings of flowers, the Society of American Florists has compiled this list from a variety of different sources. Below are just a few of their findings. (To see the whole list, visit the Society of American Florists:

• Alstroemeria — aspiring

• Apple Blossom — promise

• Baby’s Breath — festivity

• Begonia — deep thoughts

• Carnation pink — gratitude


red — flashy

striped — refusal

white — remembrance

yellow — cheerful

• Daisy — innocence

• Gardenia — joy

• Hibiscus — delicate beauty

• Ivy — fidelity

• Pansy — loving thoughts


rose pink — friendship

red — passionate love

red & white — unity

white — purity

yellow — zealous


• Sunflower — adoration

• Violet — faithfulness

• Zinnia — thoughts of friends


Whether it’s cut flowers, a potted flowering plant or one to grow in the garden or even seeds to grow, the gift of flowers is sure to please any recipient and provide color and pleasure long after one of those heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are just a sweet memory. Now that you know the secret language of flowers you can craft your own special message for Valentine’s Day or any other day as well.

(Note: I realize I had promised to discuss some of the new vegetable introductions for the coming season, but Valentine’s Day interrupted and demanded its due attention. However next time we’ll look at what’s in store for the vegetable garden next summer.)

Lynette L. Walther is the recipient of the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award and the Florida Magazine Association’s Silver Award of Writing Excellence. She is a member of the Garden Writers Association, and she gardens in Camden. Got questions, or comments? Visit her blog, and join in the conversation at: or “friend her” on Facebook.


Hard water, low pressure? There’s a new sprinkler for you

There’s a new sprinkler on the block and it’s got me excited. Designed to reduce water use, Rainforest Sprinklers operate at low water pressures, cannot clog and provide even coverage to an area of up to 2,000 square feet. I love these heart-shaped sprinklers, and think they’d make nifty Valentine’s Day “gifties” for any of your favorite gardeners.

The sprinklers work by breaking-up water droplets to improve delivery of water to the root zone and prevent water from pooling and running off. They come in a variety of configurations including a spiked model, pole mounted, with a wheel base and more. Note that unlike some of those light-weight plastic sprinklers that work with low-pressure, the Rainforest Sprinkler doesn’t have “arms” that can get blocked by foliage. In fact the little heart-shaped head protects the moveable arm of this sprinkler from being stopped by foliage. That means you can place this little sweetheart just about anywhere in the garden and it still throws a pattern of water. How sweet is that?

Product inventors, Mark and Lori Loran, explain why Rainforest Sprinklers work well under challenging watering conditions. “Because they can’t clog, they are great for use in areas with hard water and are ideal for people on low-pressure systems like wells,” Mark Loran said.

“They can be used with regular and even high water pressure just as well,” Lori added. “A lot of nurseries and greenhouses use them to mist very delicate plants and seedlings.”

Look for Rainforest Ecological Sprinklers from Contech Enterprises at Contech Enterprises retailers or online at This is the company that also produces the ScareCrow to harmlessly scares deer and other wildlife away from gardens with a blast of water. Contech also produces a line of unique pet items. Visit the website to see the many unique products.