Smoke And Roses: A Steampunk Language of Flowers by Olivia Wylie

Rosemary is for remembrance. You give yellow roses to a friend and lilies to the bereaved. Ever wondered why?

In this illustrated volume you will discover the history of the symbolic code daring Victorian ladies and gents used to pass messages in bouquets: the roots of the practice in Turkey, its rise in Europe and its fascinating cultural connotations on both sides of the Atlantic. You’ll learn how a mispronounced word gave the tulip its name and why the colors of the rose have so many meanings. Included are recipes for bouquets useful in your own life, including the Bugger Off Bouquet, to be given to those you would rather not see again. Let this book lead you up the historical garden path.

A little about Olivia first:

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Olivia Wylie is a professional landscaper who specializes in the restoration of neglected gardens in Downtown Denver. She snaps photos of garden beauty in her daily work and uses rain days, the photos and research to create art that shares the serenity of the green world with its viewers. On days when the weather keeps her indoors, she writes about the relationship between humanity and the green world. She currently has two ethnobotanic works in print: ‘Smoke and Roses’ and the book Roots: Insights From the Tree Alphabet of Old Ireland’. A book on the history of weeds in America is forthcoming in March. Her works are available at www.leafingoutgardening.com as well as Amazon.

Terence Vicker’s Review: 4-Stars

Smoke and Roses by Olivia Wylie
Smoke and Roses is an interesting look into the meaning behind flowers and the history behind them. The introduction is the most interesting part to me as I enjoy reading about the history behind the flower meanings.

The illustrations appear to be hand drawn and painted, possibly watercolors and with the background of the page and the graphics, it gives the impression of an old book with a certain rustic charm.

I was a bit disappointed that there was no history behind the individual flowers included.

Generally an interesting book and a good reference for those giving or receiving bouquets.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 5-Stars

A Steampunk Language of Flowers by Olivia Wylie

If you’ve ever wondered about how to design the perfect bouquet of flowers for a certain occasion or a special person in your life, look no further than this book. Forget those dry dusty botanical textbooks your garden-loving grandfather may have handed down to you. This one is a feast for the eyes with its delightful original illustrations that look like an illuminated edition from the 18th century, something one might find in a rare book room of a botanical garden research library or the English estate of a wealthy collector.

This book would make a great gift for anyone interested in botanicals or the history of flowers and the Victorian custom of sending messages via a carefully orchestrated bouquet. Do you want to convey your gratitude to someone special? Send them a bunch of bluebells or rather Hyacinthoides non-scripta, if you prefer knowing the scientific Latin term. Are you feeling a bit oppressed and want to send a clear message that says: “Let justice be done”? Then the perfect choice is a handful of black-eyed Susans, also known as rudbeckia, and not to be “rude” by any means, as some have mistaken the play on its name. Just be direct and to the point, which is precisely what Wylie has done in both her visual and verbal descriptions, some only taking up a mere paragraph to describe the history and purpose of each flower.

Wylie’s lushly illustrated book with pages that look like aged parchment almost feels as if you can smell the musty crackle of each leaf, even on the ebook. Although the paperback edition is a bit pricey at $25 it would still make a welcome gift for a favorite gardener, history buff or trivia fan. Although there isn’t much in the way of “steampunk” marked within the text, the old-fashioned charm and title make this the perfect accessory for any Steampunk LARPer on your list.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “Smoke And Roses: A Steampunk Language of Flowers by Olivia Wylie

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  1. Sherry Terry’s Review: 5-Stars

    Smoke And Roses by Olivia Wylie is a very informative, fun read. My biggest “complaint” is the cover. It’s too busy and I can’t tell what that is on the cover. I know it’s a flower, but it’s too dark with too much busyness around it. Also, a few of the drawings inside are a little to busy it’s hard to see the flowers with so much going on around them and the text on the cover and images is hard to read, for me. But I’m old and have old eyes so that’s on me.

    The writing is strong and educational with a fun feel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and I’m going to use it for research for my historical romance books in the future. Even if you don’t give a fig about flowers and what they mean, you will find something useful in Smoke And Roses.

    I loved all the information of what flowers mean, and my most favorite part was the bouquet ingredients. I’ve got some in mind to send to people who need a pick-me-up or a dressing down. The wedding anniversary flowers are extremely helpful for anyone you know with an anniversary coming up. Each year of marriage has a flower.

    Overall, I enjoyed reading this and once I started, I couldn’t put it down. The drawings are beautiful, even the ones that are a little too busy. I feel this book is going to come in handy for all kinds of stuff, and now I can’t wait to send some flowers to someone. I absolutely loved the paper the story is written on, it gives a great feel of reading an old book from the 1800s. I could almost smell the dusty pages.

    The fact that I personally had a hard time seeing some of the hand drawings, did not by any means take away from my enjoyment of the book. We need to get back to the giving of flowers to brighten people’s day, and Smoke And Roses is just the book to bring us back to the tradition.

    I recommend this book to everyone. You are sure to find something useful. And, it’s pretty.

    http://www.verysherryterry.com

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