A Short History of the Ancient Art of Flower Arranging
Flower arranging has become such a central part of our lives that we sometimes forget its long and fascinating history. The earliest evidence we have of flowers being used in an organised and meaningful way is from the Ancient Egyptians. From around 2500 B.C, they used flowers as tomb decorations. They also used flower arrangements in the home as a means of expression and decoration.
Flowers have been used throughout the ages to convey messages and moods, announce festive occasions such as weddings and special days, or just to decorate and delight! The simple act of giving flowers is a time-honoured way of expressing joy and friendship. Flower arranging is a gift handed down to us from our ancestors.
As well as the Ancient Egyptians, the Early Greeks and Romans also used floral art and introduced concepts such as wreaths and adornments for use on special occasions, such as a major military victory or coronation. Flowers were also popular in religious gatherings in Ancient China where fresh flowers were used extensively to ward off evil spirits in both temples and in home settings.
The Byzantine period ushered in flower arrangements that differed in style and content to that used by the Greeks and Romans. The Byzantines weren’t afraid to experiment! Fruit was introduced as part of the bouquet and colours from opposite parts of the colour spectrum were used in conjunction with more leaves and smaller flowers than had been the case in previous times.
The Middle Ages/ Renaissance
The Middle Ages saw an extension of floral arrangements in society, based on Greek and Roman style and form. However, it was the Renaissance that saw an explosion of floral creativity to match the intellectual changes of the time. Intricate flower arrangements were introduced along with Christmas wreaths for the first time. Garlands of fresh flowers and fruit were used to decorate walls and banquets.
It was during the Victorian era that flower arrangement really began to gain in popularity, particularly in the well-to-do, high society. The popular habit of entertaining friends at elaborate parties and functions meant ornate flower arrangements were used to complement the occasions. Interestingly, the Victorians wholeheartedly embraced the language of flowers, with great emphasis placed on the type, colours, and fragrance to convey exactly the right message.
Recent decades have seen flower arranging explode in popularity and in the range of styles available. Modern styles include everything from minimalist design such as Ikebana borrowed from Japan, to texture and design ideas such as free form in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. Modern style also includes arrangements based around Australian natives, which tend to be large and bold. With image-centric social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram acting as inspiration, there is no limit to ideas and influences.
The Language of Flowers
The beautiful and delicate language of flowers has been handed down as part of the history of organised floral displays. As such, flower arrangements — and the messages they convey — are now at the very centre of our lives; from gift giving, celebration, grieving and creative displays to corporate functions, shop fronts and markets. Or just as a message of love between lovers and friends.
We have been handed a unique gift from our ancestors, the ability to express ourselves through flowers.
Interested in seeing more of the finest in flower arrangements in a range of styles? Contact Manic Botanic to see the variety of freshly made flower arrangements to suit every mood or occasion. Our arrangements are made by expert florists, with only the finest flowers sourced locally and from interstate.