Tussie Mussie History and How-to

Aromatherapy as it is practiced today, includes herbal extracts and oils placed in amulets, light plugs, on light bulbs, etc. In earlier times, herbs were scattered on floors in the spring when homes were cleaned of winter waste. And, in the Middle Ages herbs were thought to ward off disease.

A Tussie Mussie, a circular arrangement of flowers and herbs was carried in Victorian times. The herbs and a central rose were sniffed to help people get through the unpleasant street smells. Herbs such as rosemary, thyme and rue were often used for their spicy aromas.

Sara Sherwood of Muskogee purchased the Tussie Mussie in the photo at the Savannah GA home of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. Low lived from 1860 to 1927.

In England, judges carried them into court and today, judges in the highest court carry them six times a year. In France, the Tussie-Mussie was placed in a small, metal, hand-held vase with ring chain, making it easy to carry.

Other uses for Tussie-Mussies included courtship. Suitors gave their intended a message by selecting specific flowers. Dictionaries of flower meanings were developed from material found in mythology, lore and religious symbolism. Ladies and gentlemen who received a Tussie-Mussie researched the meaning behind the gift in 400 flower-meaning dictionaries of the time.

For example, a red rose is I love you but a yellow rose says my love has decreased now that I know you better.

The custom of assigning meaning to plants probably dates to prehistoric cultures. Archeologists think flowers found in ancient graves were arranged to signify messages.

Today, most brides and bridesmaids carry a Tussie-Mussie when they walk down the aisle.

According to Worldwidewords.org the first recorded use of the word tusmose was about 1440, then it became tuzzy muzzy. In 1629, John Parkinson wrote about Tussie-Mussie as a nosegay for sight and scent.

In 1818 flower talk was included in the education of young women. Madame Charlotte de la Tour wrote Le Language des Fleurs or the Language of Flowers that women studied. Victorian Bazaar has a history and meaning of flowers link here.

From when Queen Victoria ascended the thrown in 1837, until the end of the century, Tussie-Mussies were considered essential accessories.

Even today, Tussie-Mussies are lovely gifts for hospital visits or to give to friends and family for any occasion.

To make a Tussie-Mussie, start by choosing a message you want to send or by looking around for what plants you have. The final bouquet is usually 6-inches across.

The central flower does not have to be a rose. The flowers used to fill in around the central flower could be lavender, rosemary, ivy, mint, baby's breath, etc.

The herb and leaves wrapped around the outside could include scented geranium, lamb's ears or other large soft leaves.

To assemble a Tussie-Mussie, remove the lower leaves from each stem and use string, rubber band or floral tape to hold the arrangement together. Wrap the bouquet stems in paper towel and cover with foil or floral tape. Place the arrangement in a paper doily with a hole in the center. Ribbons can be added.

The Internet site www.languageofflowers.com lists hundreds of flowers and the sentiment they intend.

Rosemary is remembrance, ivy is fidelity, parsley is festivity, rose is love, basil is best wishes, red geranium is comfort and health, hydrangea is devotion, sage is wisdom, pine is loyalty, globe amaranth is unfading love, veronica is fidelity, bellflower is gratitude, English daisy is innocence, thrift is sympathy, lemon is faithfulness, marjoram is happiness, thyme is courage, and zinnia says I miss you.

Add to the significance of your talking bouquet by including a note with the meaning of the flowers.


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