The Language of Flowers

Floriography: What Flowers Have to Say
Meredith Waga Perez arranging hydrangea flowers on a table

Hydrangea and anemones in pink tones designed on vases on a tableAnemone flowers and hydrangea bouquets arranged on a table.Belle Fleur’s Chief Floral Officer, Meredith Waga Perez, may enjoy “fleurting” with French words, but her true fluency is articulated through the language of flowers.  “I’m fascinated by the historical symbolism of flowers and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I get swept away in the romance of it all,” says Meredith who works closely with her team to source, import, and hand-select over one hundred different varieties of blooms on any given week.

Floriography, the communication through the symbolic definition of a particular variety of bloom, became popular in Victorian England and the United States during the 19th century.  Flowers became the subject of books and poetry and a tool for painters to convey a visual narrative.  The wiry and elegant Anemone, the “forsaken” flower, has an ominous reputation across many cultures.  In Greek mythology, Anemone – translating into “daughter of the wind” – is transformed from nymph to wildflower and banished from society for her unruly nature concerning matters of the heart.  The Chinese refer to her as the “flower of death.” An early European custom was to run past a field carrying this spindly beauty.  What is universally mesmerizing about the Anemone is her power – the vulnerability that her seemingly naked form evokes.  Her strength and resilience pull at the heartstrings, mimicking the passion Meredith throws into each Belle Fleur bouquet.  “I am a true romantic,” states Meredith, “I gravitate toward Hydrangeas and Sweet Peas to convey gratitude, Garden Roses to communicate humility, Peonies to wish prosperity and luck, Tulips for true love, Freesias for friendship, and Ranunculus to charm and adore.”

A self-professed fleuriste, Meredith insists on taking the floral language a step beyond the hidden symbolism of each petal.  “As a liaison of sentiment, I want to be as articulate as possible.”  What does this mean?  Meredith and her team delve into the dynamic world of each Belle Fleur recipient.  “We extract as much information as we can from our clients to make a heartfelt impact,” says Meredith.  “If a gentleman calls for an anniversary bouquet and he’s completely perplexed on what to send, we’ll request a photo from their wedding ceremony so we can replicate what his wife carried down the aisle. Suppose a fashion designer has a flurry of thank-you bouquets to send out. In that case, we'll take a deep dive into their collection to facilitate the inspiration. If someone’s feelings are hurt, and a posy is being sent to make amends, we will instead suggest Tulips as a symbol of sincerity and forgiveness. For many of our regulars, we have a large library of their personal stationery, which is included in branded deliveries.”  The range of colors, scents, textures, and vases are considered when crafting a Belle Fleur bouquet.  “Sending something to the Upper East Side may evoke a femme and luxe style, while we may embrace an edgier composition to those living in Tribeca.  This city may be small, but the districts can dictate a vibe and design sensibility."

In a rapidly moving world of technology and information, sentiments often get lost in translation - not everyone will stop to smell the roses.  Not to fret. Meredith and her Fleurettes have made blossoms both their mission and mantra: flowers are mood enhancers, and the Belle Fleur atelier is definitively in the business of delivering love.  In the words of the Bloom Master herself, “understanding the narrative of what the bouquet should convey is equally as important as the finished work of art.”

About author Annelise Peterson

Regular columnist for Hamptons Magazine and The Purist, Annelise Peterson's resume includes key business development and marketing positions at Shiseido, NET-A-PORTER, Valentino, Calvin Klein, Alberta Ferretti, Vogue. Ms. Peterson graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College with a degree in Economics.

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