Freshly Picked Flowers for the Name Garden
By Nicole Aube
For centuries, parents have been drawn to flower names for their little girls, because they strike a perfect balance between romantic and grounded sensibilities. The most obvious examples are Rose and all her variants – Rosalind, Rosamund, Rosetta, Rosa. You’ve probably met one or two. What about parents who love the idea of a flower name and don’t want something as traditional, but want a certain familiar sound?
Here is a list of the most traditional flower names, with fresh alternatives that don’t stray too far, sound-wise.
Taken from the blue Delphinium flower, the name Delphine feels like a sleeker alternative to Daisy. It maintains the beginning letter and an “E” sound in the second half, but the middle is unique with a cool French vibe. The “el” sound and “ph” spelling fit current trends. If that isn’t enough to put it on your short list, look at the other nature qualities associated with Delphine. It also means ‘dolphin’, the first syllable is ‘dell’, and don’t you think hearing the word ‘elf’ inside this name is rather fantastic? Other options: Dahlia, Zinnia
Heather is about to fall off the Top 1000, but its legacy as a snobby 80s name remains. So does its prettiness. Heather’s appeal is in the lack of frills. Only two letters away from being the boy’s name Heath, it also bears an ending often found on unisex names like Taylor and Skyler. Did you know that Lavender was once also used for boys? It’s close to Lysander, Leander, and only a few letters away from Alexander. That said, Lavender of the Harry Potter series was the girliest of girly-girls. Truly, this flower name can be the perfect choice for a strong, smart girl. Other options: Hyacinth, Fleur, Garland
It’s interesting to me that Iris and Ianthe are both similar to boy’s names. Iris/Ira – Ianthe/Ian. Both names originate from Greek myth and have colourful nature meanings. Iris means “rainbow” and Ianthe means “purple flower”. Ianthe was a name often chosen by poets in 17th and 18th centuries to appear in their pastoral works, so it fits into the current vintage trend just as well as Iris. Other options: Iantha, Idra (not strictly a flower name, it’s Aramaic for “fig tree”)
They may not sound a lot like each other, but they both represent flowers with heady and bold perfumes that most people recognize easily. Where Jasmine is shortened to Jas/Jazz, Magnolia can be shortened to the appealing Mag or Maggie. Where Jasmine is called Mina, Magnolia can be Nola or Noli. There’s a certain sweet drawl that one can affect when saying either of these names. Other options: Azalea, Gardenia
Hear me out. Lily is often chosen more for its sweet sound and simplicity than its floral aspect these days. With one syllable and no hard consonants, Rue is equally uncomplicated. One letter away from the vintage Sue, the refreshing Rue has a sound as sweet as Lily, if more unexpected these days. It puts me in mind of the littlest member of friends in the 100 Acre Wood, the nature-loving and energetic Roo! Rue is a flower with healing properties. Other options: Calla, Lilac
Rarely given as first name, Clover shares a trendy “O” sound with Rose, and the “er” ending offers a way out of the usual endings (a, ie, y) for girls’ names that Rose also provides. It does all this while sharing the same beginning sound as the popular name Chloe. It remains a mystery to me why parents looking for a romantic name haven’t chosen Clover. For all the romance that Rose offers, Clover promises more – it contains the word LOVE! Nicknames could include Love, Lovey, and the adorable Clovie (rhymes with Chloe). Other options: Primrose, Marigold
Violet’s popularity has risen thanks to its trendy sound, vintage style, and ‘et’ ending that reminds us of romantic Juliet. It’s a more surprising name than Rose or Lily, but a flower name with an even bigger surprise factor is Orchid. The stunning beauty of the flower it represents more than makes up for its unfamiliarity. Where names beginning with ‘O’ are concerned, it’s a touch more exotic than Olive, more grounded than Ophelia, and more wearable than Orla. A baby Orchid might be so precious that she deserves to be rare, but it’s just as true that all babies are precious. Other options: Tulip, Lotus
Nicole Aube is a piano teacher, musician and writer from Toronto, who loves making lists!