In Victorian England, flowers were sometimes used as a form of coded communication to express feelings that could not be spoken aloud. Each flower is supposed to have a specific meaning – for example, daisies that convey innocence, while tulips are a declaration of love – and a bouquet could be put together to send a secret message to the recipient. This game uses flower names as a phonetic alphabet, like the popular NATO alphabet, where each letter is assigned a word from Alfa to Zulu. One poet thinks of a four-letter word and describes it in couplets, others try to guess the subject by framing their answers in flower code. Try your Buttercup Echinacea Sunflower Tulip.

Start with two or more players via text or email (or old-fashioned paper). One player is the “poet” and describes each word using four letters with rhyming couplets. The word can be an object, a concept or a verb, as in this case “LOVE”.

Recognition…Sam Von Ehren, Andrew Dore and Robert Vinluan

The other players take turns guessing the subject of the poem and using the flower key as a phonetic alphabet similar to the NATO alphabet (“Alfa”, “Bravo” etc.) to formulate their guesses. So when a player guesses “HOPE” it is written like this:

Recognition…Sam Von Ehren, Andrew Dore and Robert Vinluan

The poet answers each guess with more couplets, but must include capitalized words that begin with correct letters from the previous guess (in this case, “E” and “O”).

Recognition…Sam Von Ehren, Andrew Dore and Robert Vinluan

The game continues until someone has guessed the topic correctly.

Recognition…Sam Von Ehren, Andrew Dore and Robert Vinluan

At this point the poet sends the entire poem back to the group.

Recognition…Sam Von Ehren, Andrew Dore and Robert Vinluan