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The Language of Flowers

by Becca Hensley
Language of Flowers

"When the flower blossoms, the bee will come." -- Srikumar Rao

Many people know the famous 12th-century German abbess, Hildegard von Bingen, for her passionate musical compositions. But the sainted mystic, writer and polyglot also had a groundbreaking reputation as a healer.  

Following a creed that health began in her garden, the abbess experimented with flowers and herbs, documenting her finds in numerous volumes on botany, many of which still have relevance today. Her theories embodied a mind, body and spirit approach to wellness, using plants, especially flowers, to restore balance in her patients. In particular, von Bingham believed, as many cultures have, from the ancient Egyptians to the Aborigines to the Maya, that morning dew on plants distilled their curative powers. 

Legendarily, von Bingham practiced wrapping muslim around flowering plants overnight to collect the dew, using the drenched cloth to wrap patients at the abbey. Centuries later, homeopathic companies, such as The Bach Center, and their flower remedy collection, available today in most natural food stores, similarly derive their tinctures from allowing sun to warm flowers which have been immersed in spring water. The idea, also part of Aura-Soma (an energy therapy based on color) is that flower essences raise our energy vibrations, nourishing us on a holistic level, and provide nutrients we lack, imparting a medicinal effect. According to various theories on healing, flowers can calm nerves, eradicate disease, energize or disinfect—among other beneficial outcomes. 

While many agree that flowers (herbs and plants) constitute a wealth of vitamins and salutary possibilities, some experts won’t go as far to embrace them as “curative.” Nevertheless, nearly everyone enjoys flower gardens and fresh-picked bouquets for their beauty and perfume. Though less known today as a form of discourse, flowers have been enjoyed historically beyond healing as a secret form of communication. 

The language of flowers took root (no pun intended) in ancient times. Floriography, as it’s known, can be found from Asia to Africa. Regionally, specific flowers have meaning, and may be used for rituals, to spread goodwill or as symbols. In Victorian times in Europe, flowers became a confidential language of love, often imparting messages that could not be shared aloud. For example, pansies meant “think of me,” yellow tulips indicated “hopeless love” and a daisy declared: “I share your sentiments.”

Today, spas around the world offer therapies based on the healing and otherwise evocative aspects of flowers. Here are some recommendations.

Banyan Tree Hotels, Spa Macau, Mayakoba and/or Cabo Marques

The Flower: Chrysanthemum. In China, this flower stands for cheerfulness in adversity. Popular as a rejuvenating tea, it’s touted for its all-purpose benefits.

The Treatment: Chrysanthemum Enhancer. Dried chrysanthemums, honey and lemon are slathered on and massaged into the skin for moisturizing results.

Carmel Valley Ranch, Spa Aiyana, California

The Flowers: A blend, which includes Jasmine (to uplift), Neroli (to relieve anxiety), Ylang Ylang (fights insomnia), rosewood (eases jet lag), bergamont (soothes skin), amrys (calming scent), and clementine (relieves tension).

The Treatment: The treetop spa offers seasonal flower treatments. This spring, Eternal Blossom Body Essence slathers uses shea body butter and flower tincture for a restorative rub down and wrap.

Muse Saint Tropez, Spa Village, Ramatuelle, France

The Flowers: Lavender (for tranquility), rosemary (antioxidant and mood enhancer), cypress (detox and antifungal), and myrtle flowers (symbol of love, with anti-inflammatory effects).

The Treatment: The Pablo uses flowers grown on property. Put into poultice packets, the herbs and flowers are pressed on the muscles to prepare them for an intensive massage.


Andaz Scottsdale, Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary

The Flowers: Hibiscus Flower (antioxidant and cell renewing) Calendula Petals (skin softening, wound healer) or Arnica Flowers (fight pain and inflammation, sprain healer).

The Treatment: Choose from three floral-laden formulas to customize your ideal experience with the Sonoran Body Scrub at the Spa’s Desert Scrub Bar. Mesquite Buffing Grains uses powdered herbs, hibiscus and rose flowers, Agave Nectar & Mesquite Sugar hydrates sun-damaged skin with calendula, and Desert Mineral Salt assists with bruises and injuries, thanks to Arnica flowers. 

Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Mandapa Spa, Bali

The Flowers: Plumeria (relieves headache, moisturizes), Ylang Ylang (anti-depressant, anti-spasmodic), water lily (relaxation), magnolia (reduces anxiety) and rose (signifies love and passion, is an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory).

The Treatment: Developed for two to enjoy in the Mandapa Spa Suite, the Royal Spice Ceremony’s floral infusion bath “cleanses the physical and spiritual body with its high energy frequency,” according to Spa Director Dwi Santini. A four-handed massage follows the soak.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, Willow Stream Spa

The Flower: Lavender for restoration and balance.

The Treatment: At this iconic spa known for its water therapy area, enjoy the Couples’ Sonoma Organic Lavender Kur. A lavender infused bath for two softens the skin and relieves muscle aches, while a botanical wrap improves circulation. A lavender oil infused massage seals the deal. 

Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, Chi Spa

The Flower: Orchid for beauty; helps with toning and brightening.

The Treatment:  This hotel’s Orchid Bliss Treatment uses the calming effects of orchid extract for a toning and skin conditioning.

The Dorchester, The Dorchester Spa, London

The Flower: Rose stands for an open heart; it hydrates and promotes cell renewal. 

The Treatment: Aromatherapy Associates Rose Facial takes advantage of rose’s curative properties to hydrate, soften and nourish the face.

Hotel Talisa, Spa, Vail

The Flowers: Various blends, locally made from sixty different flowers, including tuberose (attracts love and peace, gives energy), lilac (stands for love, is antiseptic and mood relaxer) and hydrangea (diuretic and anti-inflammatory). 

The Treatment: The Colorado Wildflower Scrub uses chia seeds, brown sugar and jojoba, infused with rainbow fluorite crystals and Phia flower essences to soften skin and create balance. 

*Photos courtesy of their respective resorts.

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