Flowers and plants have become a part of every culture in the world. The role that flowers now play in beautifying our homes and gardens dates back to the earliest of civilizations throughout our history. There is no clear record on when flowers were grown strictly for arrangements, but it was likely when the first agrarian societies developed, well before formal recorded history. The first formal recognition of floral design and arrangements was recorded by the Ancient Egyptians that selected specific flowers during burial ceremonies and for their relationship to specific deities and Gods. Other cultures continued this practice with flowers as well as foliage and herbs used to ward off evil and to provide protection. The Asian cultures used flowers for their artistic and esthetic value as well as for medicinal purposes.
With this formal adaption of the art of flower arrangements, greater emphasis was placed on growing flowers and increasing the length of time that the flowers were available. Over time indoor and greenhouse cultivation of even the most exotic of flowers became more and more common, allowing a much greater choice for professional and hobby florists alike.
Now, the floral industry is a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. Exotic cut flowers are flown around the world with most florists able to order any type of flower required to complete that perfect arrangement. Floral arrangements are a part of almost every celebration from festive holidays to weddings and funerals.
While going to a professional florist for your centerpieces and arrangements is always an option, creating your own unique floral pieces is a way to create a unique piece of living art. You can also combine floral arrangement with floral gardening, growing the seasonal or year round flowers that you want to use yourself. This may be a bit more costly, especially if you are contemplating a greenhouse, but it is an extremely rewarding and satisfying addition the floral arrangement hobby. Learning about flower arranging is something that can be done via classes, books or online learning, and it is an art form that anyone can practice and develop. Getting started is very low cost and the entire family can join in, making beautiful arrangements that may even transition from a hobby to a business.
Styles of Floral Arrangement
There are many different types of floral arrangements from the massive and elaborate arrangements popular in many Western cultures through to the very minimal arrangements of more Eastern cultures. Perhaps one of the countries most associated with the elegant and minimal type of design is Japan. Often the floral arrangement is seen as a part of the Tea Ceremony but it is also developed as a way to beautify the home and workplace environment. Living plants and cut flowers are most common in traditional Japanese arrangements, and typically seasonal plants and flowers are the only acceptable materials used in traditional arrangements.
Meaning Of Flowers
In the Victorian era, which is the time that Queen Victoria ruled in England, extended from 1873 to 1901, there was a great deal of cultural change. During this time artists flourished and, with increasing industrialization and availability of time, money and imported goods, many people found that they could turn to more artistic and literary pursuits than they had been able to afford in the past. This is a time when the Victorian style of floral arrangements really took off, including the famous style of Victorian gardening still very much in vogue today.
It was during this time that people sought to see meaning in all aspects of life, so having a flower type mean a specific sentiment, emotion or message just made sense. There were limited types of flower that were used in arrangements because they had to be locally grown. By knowing the meaning of the flowers you could interpret the meaning of the arrangement. While not as essential now, many people still use the traditional association of an emotion with a flower, which helps to determine what flowers can be used in a specific type of arrangement. The most common flowers and their associated means are listed below:
• Amaryllis – drama
• Anemone – fragility
• Azalea – abundance
• Baby`s Breath – festivity
• Bachelor Button – anticipation
• Black-eyed Susan – encouragement
• Camellia – graciousness
• Daffodil – chivalry
• Daisy – innocence
• Geranium – comfort
• Hydrangea – perseverance
• Iris – inspiration
• Lavender – distrust
• Lilac – first love
• Marigold – desire for riches
• Nasturtium – patriotism
• Peony – healing
• Poppy – consolation
• Orchid – delicate beauty
• Pansy – loving thoughts
• Sunflower – adoration
In addition there are several flowers that have different meanings based on their colors. These include carnations, roses, tulips and chrysanthemum. The colors and the corresponding flower are often used as the central part of the message or arrangement with complimentary flowers to enhance the meaning. For example, A white carnation is a sign of remembrance and can be used in an arrangement with red and white roses that can signify love and unity.
While the meanings of flowers in this form is a fun way to add to a floral arrangement there are also more traditional flowers associated with different events. All months have a flower that is considered the birth month flower, similar to a birthstone or a zodiac sign. The following are the traditional and alternative options for the birth month flowers:
• January – carnation
• February – iris, violet
• March – daffodil
• April – daisy, peony
• May – lilies
• June – rose
• July – delphinium
• August – dahlia, gladiolus
• September – aster, forget-me-not
• October – Marigold
• November – chrysanthemum
• December – poinsettia, narcissus, holly, paperwhite
As you can see most of the birth month flowers are naturally blooming during that period of time. There are also few exotic flowers in the traditional list but there are some very beautiful modern alternatives that have been added as more and more international shipping of cut flowers is possible.
Flowers can also have cultural meanings and may be deemed to be more or less acceptable in arrangements for special events in each culture. Colors of flowers can also be important, especially for some of the Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. For example a traditional Mexican holiday, The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), is most commonly associated with marigolds, usually in bright yellow, red and orange combinations. These flowers are not only strikingly rich in color but they are also excellent cut flowers as they last for a long period of time.
Chinese weddings typically include a lot of red flowers since red is the symbol of life and happiness within the culture. White flowers, which are common in many Western styles of wedding bouquets and centerpieces are avoided since white is colored the color of death. In the Indian wedding the flowers that are most often used in ceremonies and arrangements include marigolds, jasmine, orchids and roses, often used in very beautiful combinations both for the bridal party as well as to decorate the reception area.
Peonies are often considered a traditional flower of Chinese cultural events and special celebrations. Cherry blossoms, particularly in spring arrangements, are a hallmark of Japanese cultural events. Orange blossoms are very traditionally use in floral arrangements in the Middle East and are also used in cooking. The Lotus flower is often seen as a powerful symbol in Buddhist religion and represents the four virtues, which is why it is often used in wedding arrangements in Asian cultures.
Training And Classes
Floral arrangement and floral art is a hobby that can be very low cost to start, especially if you have your own supply of fresh flowers. Of course you may also wish to use silk or artificial flowers as well, which is a great idea for long lasting arrangements and for very large displays that may be cost prohibitive to maintain with fresh flowers. There are many different options for finding or even making your own silk or artificial flowers that are incredibly lifelike in appearance. Most craft and hobby stores, department stores and florists will have a good supply of high quality artificial flowers and greenery.
Classes in floral arrangement are offered locally at most community centers, many Department of Agriculture Extension offices, florist`s shops, and through Gardening Clubs and Associations. Typically most classes will indicate the style or type of floral arrangement they are teaching, which allows you to focus in on a general style you want to learn. These classes may be designed to have you work with live or artificial flowers and the cost of the class typically includes all supplies, including the flowers. For some advanced types of classes you may have an additional fee for supplies over and above the cost of the class, so it is important to check out the details of the class prior to arriving.
Many Home and Garden shows or exhibits also have florists or floral designers displaying their arrangements or even providing demonstrations or mini-workshops. This can be a very low cost option to have a chance to view professional florists at work while also learning some of the essential tips and tricks that they use to give their designs that added little touch.
The internet offers a wealth of videos on different floral websites as well as open source learning websites and through video sites such as YouTube. This is a great way to view literally any type of floral arrangement process and to be able to stop and replay the video as needed to understand all elements and design structures. These videos can provide helpful tips as to what types of flowers and greenery to combine to create unique looking arrangements. They are also a wonderful source of inspiration for how to use a variety of additional materials such as dried grasses, wood, native and non-native types of flowers and plants within your own arrangements.
Floral arrangement and floral design is a relaxing, stress free type of hobby that will provide the people in your life with beautiful centerpieces and arrangements for any occasion. With just a small investment you will have all the supplies that you need, and you don`t require any special space or costly materials to get started. The great news is that if you find you enjoy this hobby you can branch out into a part or fulltime business that you can operate from your own home.
Floral arrangement is perfect for children, adults and seniors. If you are interested in the hobby plan to attend a floral design class or a floral show in your area and talk to others already involved in the hobby. You will find that they are willing to help out with suggestions of books, clubs to join, videos to watch and even classes to take in the local vicinity.