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Aspects of Design: Floral Design Periods

Thinker - Thinking About Floral DesignPreparing for the future is always easiest when we know from whence we came. In this month’s Aspects of Design from FlowerShopNetwork.com, we focus on popular periods of design and how they can be interpreted into floral designs. Below is a handy, easy-to-print chart with the style and time period in which the style of design was dominant. We also include a brief description of many styles.

In floral design school? Need to brush up on your period pieces for a theme party? Interested in art behind what we do?  Whatever your interest, the information below will help enhance your unique floral design skills. [Read more…]

5 Components of Victorian Floral Design

Victorian Style Flower Arrangement

Victorian Style Flower Arrangement

History of Victorian Floral Design

The Victorian era was when arranging flowers was first recognized as an art form.

The Victorian era in American history marked a period of floral design we often see in elaborate, full designs. The Victorian era is named for Queen Victoria who rules England from 1837 to 1901. During this era, enthusiasm abounded for gardening, flowers and plants. The people were more strict, formal and prudish though decorations (including floral designs) were opulent, lavish and showy.

Upper-class members of society showed their wealth with large, excessive, opulent and often overdone flower arrangements created weekly by cultured ladies in the home and their daughters. This was also the time when tussie-mussie bouquets and nosegay bouquets made their mark in society. Lovers would exchange them as signs of affection. Proper women of Victorian society carried these bouquets at most social gatherings.

Elements & Principles of Victorian Floral Design

Style: Lavish, Full, Massive, Full of Seasonal Flowers, Opulent

Flowers Used: Primarily only MASS, FORM, and FILLER flowers are used. Fruits may also be incorporated with the flowers.

Seasonal flowers are appropriate for Victorian flower designs because during the era arrangements were typically made from flowers cut from the garden.

Roses are almost always required for a Victorian flower arrangement as they were very popular during the era. Other appropriate flowers are tulips, carnations, daisies, China asters, lilies, cockscomb, peonies, bleeding hearts, freesias, dahlias and baby’s breath.

Basic Design Characteristics of Victorian Style

Keep in mind that this style of flowers is very full and focuses on the opulence associated with an abundance of fresh flowers.Tightly massed flowers are characteristic of the style and time period.

Victorian style arrangements are typically round or oval in form. Flowers are typically kept to a lower height, only one to one-and-a-half times the container’s height.

Strong color contrasts and flowers with brilliant hues are preferred. Usually a full range of colors is used. However, monochromatic and analogous tones may also be used.

Lots of foliage is associated with Victorian style flower arrangements. They are used to soften the appearance of tightly massed flowers. Ferns and ivies are popular inclusions.

Containers Used in Victorian Flower Arrangements

Containers used in Victorian style flower arrangements are typically ornate and decorative. They should be showy but not outshine the flowers. A wide variety of containers can be used, ranging from China vases to baskets, urns, round bowls and other containers. Materials also vary. Two and three-tiered epergnes and stands are appropriate for this style.

If you have any comments or pictures of a Victorian style flower arrangement, please add them in the comments below.

The Symbolic Meaning of Flowers

Symbolic meanings have been ascribed to flowers since the earliest history of humankind.

  • It has been said that roses first turned red as they blushed with shame at Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. 
  • Laurel wreaths placed around the heads of early Greek Olympians symbolized victory and glory.
  • According to Christian legend, carnations sprouted from the ground where Mary’s tears fell as she wept at the foot of the cross upon which Jesus died, and thus are associated with a mother’s undying love.
  • The white lily is strongly linked with Mary throughout art history, symbolizing her virginity, purity, and majesty.
  • And in Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra scattered roses at Marc Anthony’s feet as a symbol of her love.

Love, in fact, is the dominant message among the symbolic meanings of flowers… as well it might be. Flowers, after all, are the sexual reproductive organs of plants, and as such they are emblematic of all sorts of intimate proceedings. Think about that every time you sniff a rose, that most sensual and voluptuous of flowers.

The Language of Flowers

"Rare Beauty" Pale Pink Roses BouquetThere was a time in the past when persons of polite and decorous demeanor never spoke publicly of their romantic feelings. Displays of affection or amorous intent where considered vulgar and inappropriate in a society where all sorts of behavior was proscribed by the social mores of the day. Thus, the so-called “Language of Flowers” evolved as a way to communicate ones deepest feelings in a socially acceptable way. Love was never discussed among polite company during the Elizabethan Age in Europe, restricted by etiquette and conformity. So flowers were used to convey feelings.

The Victorian Era

It was during the Victorian Era that simple messages were assigned to individual flowers. Several small books were published in the late 1800’s which detailed the symbolic meanings of flowers, so that a suitor could send an elaborate, often romantic, secret message to his beloved by combining the appropriate flowers into a telling bouquet, and she could respond in kind. The recipients of such flowers could picture an entire love letter among the blossoms.

And so was born the Language of Flowers. Some of the meanings have changed over the years (for example, a yellow rose once meant “jealousy” but today is most often understood to mean “friendship”), and some of the small books actually contradicted each other… a peony symbolizes either “shame” or “happy marriage”. Nonetheless, we’ve assembled a list of the most commonly accepted symbolic meanings of flowers here. Use them at your own risk.

Rose Meanings

Roses in particular carry a veritable lexicon of quaint expressions of emotion. Everything from modesty to jealousy to gratitude to mourning… and of course, every degree of love… may be expressed by the color, size, shape, maturity, or position of the flower (pictures of roses in arrangements). But a perfect red rose always means “I love you”, a message which will never be confused with any other symbolic meaning of a flower. Contact a professional florist to help you expand your flower vocabulary, and send a well-worded message to someone you love, today.