History Of Floral Design

The evolutionary history of flowers extends across some 125 years. Scientists say there are over 270,000 species of flowers that have been documented and are existing in the 21st Century. During this time, an intricate assortment of more than 125,000 species has developed. But scientists have yet to answer basic questions about these marvels of beauty… What led to their amazing diversity? Are there flowers that have not changed much during the evolution of this planet?

The first plant fossils found were woody magnolia-like plants dating back 93 million years. Paleobotanists have more recently uncovered tiny herb-like flower fossils dating back 120 million years. Flowering plants, called angiosperms by scientists, were believed to be already diverse and found in most locations by the middle of the Cretaceous Period. … 146 million years ago. A myriad of images of preserved flowers and flower parts have been found in fossils located in Sweden, Portugal, England, and along the Eastern and Gulf coasts of the United States. Below are a few flowers which have a long history. Alstroemeria, Aster, Calendula, Carnation, Chrysanthemums, Daisy, Dahlia, Delphinium, Gladiolus, Holly, Lily, Rose, Orchid, Poinsettia, Queen Anne’s Lace, Snapdragons, Sunflower, Tulip, Violet.

As we know them today, flower arrangements represent an amalgamation of two styles: the European and the New World style – Oriental style. The European style arrangements from which we borrowed were filled with large numbers of flowers rich in various colours, and are referred to as ‘Mass Arrangements’. In contrast, the Oriental styles emphasized simplicity, containing few flowers and conservative colours, and, as they emphasized lines instead of masses, are known as ‘Line Arrangements’. The knowledge of how our ancestors used flowers comes to us by glancing at the following floral designs of the respective periods.

History of Floral Design in Egyptian Period (2800 BC TO 28 B.C.)

The use of flowers was traditional like flowers used for temple offerings and banquet table decorations, and at times for garlands, and wreaths for guests. Lotus, Acacia, roses, water lilies, violets, Madonna lilies, narcissus, jasmine, poppies, and especially the sacred lotus blossom were among the flowers used. Characteristics of Egyptian design were clarity ordered simplicity, using repetition of a particular pattern. Numerous types of containers were used to hold flowers. Use of fruit and foliage also was popular. Characteristics of Egyptian design were clarity ordered simplicity, using repetition of a particular pattern. A typical design consisted of a single flower with a single bud or leaf on either side, repeated as a unit.

History of Floral Design in Greek Period (600-150 B.C.)

The ancient Greeks used flowers more for adornment. Herbs were frequently used with the flowers, and as garlands, and wreaths. flowers were often just strewn on the ground. They introduced the Horn of Plenty or Cornucopia. Most arrangements were triangular and symmetrical. Roses, hyacinths, lilies, iris, narcissus, violets, as well as grape leaves, herbs, and seed pods were used. Most arrangements ere triangular and symmetrical, usually of one or a limited number of colours. White as common, since it as a sign of purity.

History of Floral Design in Roman Period (28 -B.C.-325 A. D.)

The Romans continued with the customs of the Greeks. Garlands, wreaths and crowns were more elaborate than those of the Greeks. Crowns and garlands were tapered. Flowers were sometimes arranged in baskets and cornucopias.The Romans continued with the customs of the Greeks. Use as made of the fragrance of flowers.

History of Floral Design in Byzantine Period (320-600 A.D.)

This period saw a continuance of the Greek and Roman styles, but fruit was used with the flowers in garlands in a twisted effect. Stylised trees in containers were made symmetrically with foliage and flowers in large baskets, goblets, or low containers. These were highly stylised, and used neighbouring hues, such as green, blue-green, blue, and violet, with complementary accents of red, red-orange, orange, and yellow.

History of Floral Design in Medieval Period, The Middle Ages (476-1400 A.D.)

Little is known of the floral art of this period, but whatever information there is has been gathered from the Persian paintings, rugs and tapestries of the fourteenth century. Oriental influence is clear. Numerous types of containers were used. Flowers were used for religious functions.

History of Floral Design in Rennaissance Period (1400-1600 A.D.)

The Renaissance period saw a continuance of some of the characteristics of Greek and Roman styles. Fruit and cones, and foliage such as olive, ivy, and laurel were often arranged with the flowers. Flowers used were those such as dianthus, daisies, lily of the valley, lilies, violets, roses, primroses. Christmas wreaths were introduced during this period. Designs were naturalistic at the beginning, but they became more ornate during the later Renaissance.

Flowers in The Baroque Period (Flemish)(1600-1775 A.D.)

The Baroque period directly followed the Renaissance. Styles were evoked by the works of Michelangelo in Italy, but these were adopted by designers in Holland and Belgium. Early Baroque styles were symmetrical, but later Baroque arrangements became more asymmetrical. During the Baroque period, the English painter, William Hogarth introduced the so-called Hogarth Curve. or S-curve, which is still popular today. Large containers held flamboyant arrangements containing many different kinds of flowers, such as iris, marigold, lily, peony, canna, narcissus, hollyhock, and roses, as seen in the works of artists of this period. Accessories -ere often incorporated in these arrangements.

Floral Design in French Period

French Baroque
The topiary was introduced during this period. Symmetrical designs with no focal point. Floral designs were informal, fragile, and delicate. Designs, more formal than those of the Baroque period, predominantly arc and crescent-shaped, delicate and airy.
French Rococo (18th Century)
Designs more formal than those of the Baroque period, predominantly arc and crescent-shaped, delicate and airy.
Louis XVI (Late 18th Century)
Delicate, cool colours before the French revolution, and the revival of the Classical Period following the French revolution.
Empire Period (1804-1814)
Military symbolism was often used in arrangements, using emblems and figures associated with the emperor. Most of the designs were simple and triangular in shape.

History of Floral Design in English Georgian Period (1714-1760)

The 15th and 16th Century collective fortresses of England gave way to smaller houses, into which flowers were brought, more for their fragrance than their beauty. Arrangements during the first half of this period consisted of flowers simply crammed into sturdy containers, with little or no concern for design. But during the later portion of the century, arrangements with a greater sense of design became more evident. Some of the containers of the period were made specifically to hold flowers, with holes or openings to maintain the stems at particular angles. This period is also one which introduced the nosegay, or as it was called in England, the Tussy Mussy. The favourite flower in Great Britain was the rose, and so roses were used in abundance for floral arrangements.

History of Floral Design in Victorian Period (1920-1901)

During this period, Great Britain and its great empire had an important influence on all art forms, including architecture, clothing, and home furnishings. There was also a tendency to disassociate from classicism, with movement toward romanticism and comfortable individualism. During this period, floral designs became more lavish, to the point of overflowing. Containers used were often flared vases or urns of alabaster, porcelain, silver, or pewter. Triangular or circular arrangements, almost always using roses, were common during this time. Flowers such as tulips, lilies, anemones, dahlias, fuchsias, asters, bleeding hearts, and other common garden flowers were used in containers with the roses. During this time, an attempt to establish the first simplistic rules for arranging flowers was made.

History of Floral Design in Early American (Colonial) Period (1620-1720)

The early colonists generally produced plants for food or for their medicinal properties. What little time they had for arranging flowers was spent making simple arrangements to adorn their very modest homes. Flowers were used more in the Central and Southern Colonial areas. Most of the arrangements they made were copied from the English Georgian and French Empire periods. Arrangements were made in simple mass forms using numerous colours.

History of Floral Design in Colonial Williamsburg (1740-1780)

Once the colonists became firmly established in communities, and trade developed with distant lands, a cultural evolution developed in the areas of Virginia and Maryland which introduced the art and architecture of distant lands. Mixed bouquets of the Williamsburg tradition predominated, using garden flowers such as anemones, lilies, roses, Dutch bulbs of all kinds, hollyhocks, phlox, sunflowers, violets, bachelor buttons, marigolds, strawflowers, daisies, dianthus, and snapdragons. Field grasses and foliage were mixed with these flowers, in fan-shaped arrangements, using fine, feathery material on the outside to contrast with the solid masses of blooms in the center. Much use was also made of dried materials such as cockscomb, lunaria, strawflowers, and ornamental grasses during the fall and winter, when fresh flowers were sparse.

History of Floral Design in American Period (1780-1820)

The Neoclassic and Empire styles which had been evolving in Europe, especially the delicate French style, had a great influence on the styles used in late colonial America at this time. In these types of arrangements, masses of mixed bouquets were used less often, and the charm of individual flowers was emphasized. Fewer flowers were used in containers.

History of Floral Design in American Victorian Period (1800-1920)

The Victorian period in England began to spill over to the newly-declared United States. Ornate containers of many different kinds of materials were filled to overflowing, using cool colors and an abundance of white. Arrangements tended to be made in rich purples, magentas, and dark blues. As in England, the Tussy-Mussy was popular, especially in the deep ´South´.

Floral Design in Modern Period (Contemporary)(1910-Present)

Victorian style was rapidly replaced by a transitional style of flower design called the ´New Art´. Containers were just to hold flowers in which small bouquets were placed. This ´new´ style spread through the United States rapidly after the First World War ended, and an increased interest in flower arranging developed. Flower shows were popular. Designers of this time developed a style which combined the characteristics of Oriental line arrangements with the mass arrangements originating from Europe.

The 1950’s and 60’s brought a significant increase in interest in the use of flowers to decorate the home in the United States. Today the new ´Dutch Style´ is one which is becoming increasingly popular.It is exemplified by naturalistic garden style arrangements, using groupings of similar flowers, and parallel lines The use of hand tied bouquets, use of new tropical materials and perennials is also increasing. Following Holland as centre of floral production was South America, specifically Columbia, where great areas of flower production exist at present.