A Brief History on the Art of Flower Arranging
Flower arranging is an ancient art form dating back to Ancient Egypt. Throughout history, people have always appreciated the beauty of fresh flowers. Just like today, flower arrangements bought colour and life to everyday situations and special occasions. Although the floral arrangement styles varied between time periods and countries, they all had meaning and purpose behind it.
Ancient Egypt (2800-28 BC)
Egyptians were using flowers as early as 2500 BC in religious ceremonies, tomb decorations, and home decor. Cut flowers were displayed in vases and urns. Garlands were worn by loved ones at funerals and left at the tombs. Flowers were chosen for their symbolic or religious significance, which included water lilies, roses, violets, narcissus, poppies and jasmine. Egyptian floral arrangements were simple and contain elements of repetition.
Ancient Greece (600-150 BC)
Greeks used flowers for adornment. Wreaths and garlands were present in celebrations, like weddings and births. Unlike other time periods, vases weren't used. Laurel wreaths were presented to Olympian winners. Garlands symbolized power, honour, and dedication. The Greeks can be attributed to the creation of the "horn of plenty" or cornucopia. Herbs and grape leaves, along with flowers like roses, lilies, narcissus, and violets were common in floral arrangements. Most floral arrangements are symmetrical. The colour of the flowers weren't as important as the fragrance and symbolism of the flowers.
Ancient Rome (28-325 AD)
Romans continued the same customs as the Greeks. However, the garlands, wreaths and crowns were more elaborate. As well, wreaths symbolized military victory. Foliage commonly used by the Greeks and Romans included: acorns, oak leaves, laurel, and ivy. Flowers were sometimes arranged in baskets and cornucopias. Flower arrangements were typically highly fragrant and brightly coloured.
Byzantine Period (320-600 AD)
Greek and Roman styles were continued in this period, but fruit was added in the floral arrangements. Garlands were just as popular as the ones made by Greeks, but they were made differently. The use of more leaves and tiny flowers in the garlands gave them a "twisted" look. Highly stylized and symmetrical arrangements in large baskets, goblets and other containers were also common. Color schemes were analogous (neigbouring colours on the colour wheel)accented with a complimentary color.
Ancient China (500 BC - 100 AD)
The Chinese used flower arrangements in religious ceremonies. Fresh cut flowers can be found in temples and altars in the home. Emphasis on the individual form, texture and colour in floral arrangements were influenced by the Chinese. The Chinese were one of the first people to design baskets specifically for holding flowers. Baskets were made of bamboo, willow, reed or wood. Also, the use of artificial and silk flowers can be attributed to the Chinese.
The Renaissance Period(1400-1600 AD)
Flower design started in Italy and gain popularity throughout Europe. Paintings of exaggerated floral arrangements in vases were popular. Fruits, flowers and foliage were woven into garlands to decorate walls and vaulted ceilings. Flowers that were used included carnations, daisies, lilies, violets and roses. Christmas wreaths were introduced during this time period.
Victorian Period (1920-1901)
During this time, floral designs were more lavish, almost over the top. Containers like flared vases and urns of porcelain and silver were used in floral arrangements. Triangular and circular arrangements of roses were commonly during this time period. Other flowers like tulips, lilies, dahlias, and asters were also used. Round or oval shaped arrangements were typical. Floral design was taught and recognized as art.