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Flower arranging arrived in Europe around 1000 CE, and was particularly popular in churches and monasteries where flowers and plants were used for food as well as for decoration. As crusaders came back from the Middle East, they brought with them new and interesting plants. As a result, European countries began experimenting with plants that were previously unknown to them.
MIDDLE AGES (AD 476–1400)
During this era, monks were known for having gardens with herbs and wildflowers. In the later part of the Gothic period flowers reached a more dominant role, such as flowers beginning to blossom in altar pictures, manuscripts, and paintings.
An important aspect of the monastery plan was to include a medicinal herb garden, which would “furnish the physician with the pharmaceutical products needed for his cures. A dependence on the power of herbs without reference to their Creator [God] was, however, regarded as improper for a Christian” . Because God “causes herbs to grow,” their medical utility is fundamentally spiritual . In addition, many plants were used by monks and Christians in general in sacred rituals and ceremonies. They often had associations appealing to spiritual bases as well as to medicinal effects.
The flower design started in Italy and grew through Europe. Paintings of impressive floral arrangements in vases were popular. In the paintings, fruit blossoms and leaves were woven into garlands to decorate walls and vaulted ceilings, and petals were piled into baskets or strewn on the floors, streets, or allowed to float down from balconies.
BAROQUE ARRANGEMENTS (AD 1600–1775)
At the beginning of this period floral designs were symmetrical and oval-shaped, with asymmetric crescents and S-shapes becoming popular later on.[when?]
DUTCH–FLEMISH ARRANGEMENTS (AD 1600–1750)
The baroque arrangements in the Dutch-Flemish style were more compact and proportioned. Their major characteristic was the variety of flowers within the bouquet.
FRENCH ARRANGEMENTS (AD 1600–1814)
During the French Baroque period, a soft, almost fragile appeal became a major characteristic of floral design. Arrangements were asymmetrical using the C-crescent or the S-shape. In the empire period they used simple lines in triangle shapes and strong color contrast. The typical empire design would be arranged in an urn containing an abundance of large richly colored flowers.
GEORGIAN ARRANGEMENTS (AD 1714–1760)
The designs in this period were formal and symmetrical and often tightly arranged with a variety of flowers. Oriental design became influential due to active trading. At the end of the period the designs became more informal due to the fact that the fragrance of the flowers, which were believed to rid the air of diseases, became more important. Small, handheld arrangements called nosegays or tussie-mussies were used to carry sweet scents, and also helped mask the odors of society where bathing was often believed to be unhealthy.
VICTORIAN ARRANGEMENTS (AD 1820–1901)
Flowers were considered fashionable in this period. Large mass flowers were placed tightly into containers to create compact arrangements that were asymmetrical and stacked tightly. There was no definite style, but many different flowers and colours made the arrangement look almost unplanned. The tussie-mussie bouquets were still serving to eliminate odors. At the end of this period attempts were made to set up rules for a proper arranging of flowers, which is when it became an artful skill or profession in Europe.
The Italian Renaissance helped to give an extra spark to the art of flower arranging in Europe. It was during this time period that a wide variety of arrangement styles began to develop. By the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, flower arrangements were commonplace and a wide variety of materials were used to make containers, including marble, heavy Venetian glass, and bronze.
Flower arrangements made during this time introduced a whole new element – the usage of tropical fruits. These arrangements also focused on creating colour contrast. Some of the popular flowers included the Lilium Candidum (or Madonna Lily, used as a symbol for fertility and chastity), narcissus, pinks, iris, jasmine, pansies, French marigolds, cornflowers, and rosemary.