As we all know, the meaning of words often change over time.
This process--called 'semantic shift' by linguists--
is responsible for the change in meaning of the word "wallflower."
For centuries, the name referred to a fragrant flower
that, according to the Oxford English Dictionary,
grew wild on walls, stones, and quarries.
Photo credit: Rosier via commons.wikimedia.org
The old-fashioned wallflower, cheiranthus cheiri,
was said to smell like violets
and bloomed in colors that included deep yellow, orange, and brown.
Photo Credit: Lazaregagnidze via commons.wikimedia.org
The 1936 publication Old-Fashioned Garden Flowers,
had this to say about the color of wallflower:
Its petals are either a rich sunset yellow veined with brown,
or a soft glowing Rembrandt brown, darker veined.
A happy brown is a rare shade in gardens
and was rightly prized by our grandmothers.
A beautiful old-fashioned flower colored "happy brown"--
that's an unexpected pleasure.