In the pre-first world war society that restricted public expression of feelings, there was a great development of 'alternative' languages that did not require the use of words - such as the language of fan or the language of flowers. 

The symbolism of flowers and plants dates back to ancient times and for centuries found its use in various forms of art and literature. Europe's interest in floriography developed in the 18th century, brought from the Ottoman Empire by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. The first known list of  flowers associated with symbolic definitions is Joseph Hammer-Purgstall's Dictionnaire du language des fleurs, published in 1809. By mid-19th century foliography reached the peak of its popularity, accompanied by a frowing interest in botanics and the development of   natural history studies. 

Gifts of flowers or plants were often considered to be 'coded messages' that allowed to communicate in a non-verbal way. Victorian Era introduced tussie-mussies, or 'talking bouquets' which could be worn as a fashion accessory or exchanged as a gift.

Foliography 's popularity seems to have diminished after the First World War.