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The History of Flower Arrangements

By Judith A. Babb

How many times have you admired a beautiful flower arrangement or been given one by that special person in your life? Have you ever wondered just how the art of flower arrangements came about? Were they only meant to be given on special occasions? Do women only get to enjoy flower arrangements? These are only a few questions I myself have asked, and hopefully in the following paragraphs can answer them for you.

Flower arrangements have been around for centuries and are meant to be a part of every person’s life, be they male or female. At one time in society, however, flower arrangements were often associated with women. After all, flowers are beautiful and women tend to adore things of beauty. Plus our culture seemed to think that if a power tool was not involved than it couldn’t be a manly pursuit. But if we look back at the history of flower arrangements, we find that both men and women have enjoyed this creative pursuit.

 


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Discover how YOU can become a flower
arrangement specialist
and save up to $800 a year
or more over the cost of a florist while creating
beautiful and unique flower arrangements for
yourself, family and friends!

With my quick step-by-step method of flower arranging you can now become a floral arrangement specialist.

“FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS MADE SIMPLE”
Written by Judith A. Babb

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(You are under no obligation to buy.)

 


Let’s begin with the ancient Egyptians where the earliest form of flower arranging dates back as far as 2,500 B.C. This is illustrated with the carved stone relief’s that were left behind as well as the painted wall decorations.

Historical records indicate that the ancient Egyptians placed cut flowers in vases. In addition, flower arrangements were an important component of their culture, and highly stylized arrangements were used during burials, for processions, and simply as table decorations as well.

The flowers used for the arrangements made by the ancient Egyptians were carefully selected according to their symbolic meaning, with an emphasis placed on religious meaning. The lotus flower or water lily, for example, is considered to be sacred to the Goddess Isis. Therefore, this flower was often included in flower arrangements. Other flowers that were popular during ancient Egyptian times included the papyrus plant and the palm tree. Many other flowers are routinely found in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians as well. Garlands of flowers were worn by loved ones and left at the tombs of the ancient Egyptians just as many people leave flowers at a cemetery today. Some of these include the blue scilla, the poppy-flowered anemone, the Iris Sibirice, the delphinium, the narcissus and the rose.

Continuing our journey thru history we come upon the Greeks and Romans who also had a passion for flowers, though they did not often use vases or pots. Rather, they concentrated more on making garlands and wreaths. They also enjoyed tossing petals onto the floor and onto beds. Like the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans had their preferences when it came to the flowers and foliage they used.

The most popular foliage used by the Greeks and the Romans were acorns, oak leaves, laurel, ivy, bay and parsley. Laurel wreaths were presented to winners of athletic competitions in the ancient Olympics. These same wreaths were also awarded to individuals winning competition in poetic meets. In Rome they symbolized a military victory and crowned the successful commander in honor of his triumph.

The preferred flowers included roses, hyacinths, honeysuckle, violets and lilies. Other flowers such as tulips, larkspur and marigolds were also selected for their shape, color and form.

The Egyptians were not the only ones engaging in flower arranging during ancient times. History has it that the Chinese were making flower arrangements as far back as 207 B.C. to 220 A.D., which is the Han era of ancient China. During this period, flowers were an important component of religious teaching as well as medicine. In fact, the ancient Chinese classified and described various herbs based on their medicinal uses and flowers in turn became an important part of religious ceremonies.

Followers of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian thinking all routinely placed cut flowers at their altars. This practice dates back to at least 618-906 A.D. In addition to placing the cut flowers in water at their temples, the ancient Chinese showed their love and appreciation for flowers in other ways as well. This includes creating paintings, carvings, and embroidered items with depictions of flowers. These paintings can be found on vases, plates, scrolls and even silk fabrics. The carvings made by the ancient Chinese are made with many different types of materials, including wood, bronze, jade, and ivory.

Since Buddhist teachings would not allow the taking of a life of any form, religious practitioners worked sparingly when taking cuttings from plants. In addition, the flowers and leaves that were used to make basket arrangements were carefully selected based on their symbolic meaning. As an example, the bamboo, the peach tree, and the pear tree were used to symbolize the importance of living a long life. Other flowers, such as the tiger lily, the pomegranate and the orchid, symbolized fertility. The most honored of all flowers, however, was the peony. This flower, which is referred to as being known as the “king of flowers,” symbolized wealth, good fortune, and high position.

During the period from 500 to 1453 A.D., the Byzantine Empire made it contribution to flower arrangements. The arrangements made by their culture typically included a cone shape design. The cone-shaped foliage was placed in chalices and urns, which were further decorated with brightly colored flowers and fruit. Flowers commonly included in these arrangements included daisies, lilies, cypress, carnations and pine. Ribbons were also used as part of the arrangements.

The concept of flower arranging didn’t arrive in Europe until around 1000 A.D. Before this time, European countries were involved in the Dark Ages and the people had little room for pleasures in their own lives. As they came out of this dark period, however, plants and flowers started to be more commonly used for decoration. This was particularly true in the 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 new and interesting plants with them. As a result, European countries were able to begin experimenting with plants that were previously unknown to them.

The Italian Renaissance helped give flower arranging an extra spark in European countries. It was during this era that a wide variety of arrangement styles began to develop. By the time the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries rolled around, flower arrangements were commonplace and a wide variety of materials were used to make containers for holding the flowers. These included marble, heavy Venetian glass, and bronze.

Flower arrangements made during this time introduced a whole new element – using tropical fruits. These arrangements also focused on creating contrast with color. Some of the popular flowers used in arrangements at this time included the Lilium Candidum, or Madonna Lilu, which was used to symbolize fertility and chastity. Other popular choices included narcissus, pinks, iris, jasmine, pansies, French marigolds, cornflowers and rosemary.

Today the art of flower arranging is still enjoyed by men and women around the world. Whether chosen for symbolism or for pure beauty, flowers can bring joy and beauty for just about any situation.

Receiving a flower arrangement today is not just thought of as a female thing. Many arrangements are geared for and given to males for various occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, promotions and any other special occasion one can think of. These flowers are accepted by the male with just as much enthusiasm and joy as their female counterpart. After all, a flower arrangement is a thing of beauty for all to enjoy, be they male or female.

Judith A. Babb is a self-taught floral design expert and author of "Flower Arrangements Made Simple", loves to see everyone enjoy the beauty of flower arrangements has created an easy step by step guide available at http://www.artisticflowerarrangements.com. Sign up for the free monthly newsletter "Flower Talk" and receive numerous tips and techniques for making your own flower arrangements.

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Receive a FREE specially selected sample
of my ebook to download and keep for yourself.

Discover how YOU can become a flower
arrangement specialist
and save up to $800 a year
or more over the cost of a florist while creating
beautiful and unique flower arrangements for
yourself, family and friends!

With my quick step-by-step method of flower arranging you can now become a floral arrangement specialist.

“FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS MADE SIMPLE”
Written by Judith A. Babb

To download your FREE sample click on the button below.
(You are under no obligation to buy.)