Art of Floristry – Part 3

In the last article, we learned about the history of flower arrangements. We went over the stories behind the names of flowers.

We also found out how communities used flowers in their daily lives. From there, we learned how floristry became the high-profit industry that it is now.

Here, we’ll talk about how floral design developed from ancient to modern styles. We’ll go over each significant period in history. We’ll trace changes in floristry from Ancient Egypt to the Middle Ages.

Then, we’ll cover art movements in France to the Victorian Period in Europe and America. Finally, we arrive at its contemporary forms today.

Interested in a formal course? Want to get certified as a flower expert? Look into organizations offering classes in floristry, like:

Floral Design around the Globe

Floral Arrangement Timeline

“Floral Arrangement Timeline, 1800BCE – Modern Times”. From Flowers Across Melbourne

We set out to create a timeline of the changes in floral designs. Here, you’ll find a short yet in-depth play by play of how floral design developed through history.

Let’s see how designs transformed from rigid to creative styles!

Egyptian Period (2800 – 28 BC)

Ancient Egyptians used flowers for temple offerings. They also arranged them in centerpieces for banquet tables.

They were also fond of showing off their wealth. One way to do that was weaving flowers like jasmine and violets into garlands.

These consisted of a single flower with one or two leaves on both sides. This simple repeating pattern created an elegant design for their ceremonies.

Greek Period (600 – 150 BC)

Much like the Egyptians, the Greeks used flowers in religious practices. They crafted blooms into garlands, wreaths, and laurels.

Cornucopias also became a staple in festive activities. The Greeks often used triangular designs for their creations. They included white blossoms as a sign of purity. The Comprehensive History of Flower Arranging - Flowers ...

Left: From Pinterest. Right: From Flowers Across Melbourne.

Roman Period (28 BC – 325 AD)

Romans continued the Greeks’ use of flowers in their customs and traditions. In fact, they created even more intricate designs of wreaths and ceremonial crowns.

It was also during this time that people began to take note of various floral scents. This then became an important factor in making flower arrangements.

Byzantine Period (320-600 AD)

People in the Byzantine Era borrowed from Greek and Roman styles. But they were the first to mix fruits with flowers in garlands.

They also styled greens in vases to create harmony. For pleasing color palettes, they accented warm shades with cool hues.

Middle Ages (476-1400 AD)

The presence of florals in art died down during this era. They only appeared in tapestries. This led to creating a line of cloths called millefleur. This translated to “thousand flowers”.

Monks across Europe kept floral design alive. They tended to their gardens to increase varieties of flowers and foliage. These would serve as the subject of many art forms later on in history.

Renaissance Period (1400-1600)

Oriental styles and the emphasis on balance inspired many Renaissance artists. They included fruits and foliage in creating harmonious floral designs.

This led to the creation of now well-known Christmas wreaths. Renaissance artists were also fond of flowers en masse in their floral arrangements. Baroque and Flemish Period flower arrangement

Both from Flowers Across Melbourne.

Baroque (Flemish) Period (1600-1775)

Baroque painters were the ones who set trends in floral designs. (At least, the ones we still see today). Floristry by then was not yet seen as an art form.

As a result, flowers of different colors and sizes were often paired together. This was a way for the artist to express themselves. They also preferred tall flowers and oval shapes in arrangements.

Artists from the Flemish period also began leaning more towards uneven designs. They used wild accessories like birds’ nests and eggs in their works.

French Period (1600-1814)

This period saw a clear divide in the styles of floral arrangement.

Delicate, arc-shaped designs dominated the Baroque period and Rococo. Simple, triangular shapes were the styles of periods under King Louis XVI.

Early American Period (1620-1720)

Early American florists copied French Empire and English Georgian style. They arranged flowers en masse with various colors to decorate their homes.

English Georgian Period (1714-1760)

Floral design during this era usually consisted of a simple bunch of flowers in a vase.

Later on, they went into more elaborate designs. They even created vases for holding flowers at certain angles.

Colonial Williamsburg Period (1740-1780)

This era provided for creativity and the arts, including floral arrangements. Artists put together foliage with fine feathers and grasses into fan shapes. They finished it off with bold blooms at the center.

Victorian Period (1837-1901)

During this time, floral design became much more lavish. It often consisted of overflowing flowers and foliage.

Circular shapes were the norm. They also hailed roses as Europe’s favorite. Lilies, tulips, and other common garden flowers complemented the center roses.

American Victorian Period (1820-1920)

America’s Victorian period leaned towards deep colors. Hues like royal purple, ocean blue, and magenta were among their favorites. They often used white blooms to soften the look. They also continued creating vases for holding flowers.

victorian nosegay-tussie mussie modern contemporary flowers

Both from Flowers Across Melbourne.

Modern/ Contemporary Period (1890-Present)

The modern floral design began as a shift from the Victorian style. It borrows from the Oriental emphasis on lines. But it also combines this with en masse arrangements from Western styles.