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Art of Floristry 101

Timeline of the Development of Floral Design

In the last article, we learned about the history of flower arrangements. We looked at the tales behind the names of flowers.

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

Here, we'll explain how floral design evolved from ancient to modern-day styles. We'll go over each important period in history. We'll track developments 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 get to its contemporary forms today.

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

    American Institute of Floral Designers ( Society of American Florists ( American Floral Endowment ( Floral Design around the Globe.

We set out to set up a timeline of the changes in floral designs. Here, you'll find a short yet detailed play by play of how floral design developed throughout history.

Let's see how designs transformed from fixed to innovative styles!

Egyptian Period (2800 - 28 BC).

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

They were also keen on flashing their wealth. One way to do that was weaving flowers like jasmine and violets into garlands.

These comprised of a single flower with one or two leaves on both sides. This basic repeating pattern created an attractive design for their ceremonies.

Greek Period (600 - 150 BC).

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

Cornucopias also became a standard in festive activities. The Greeks often used triangular styles for their creations. They included white blossoms as a symbol of purity.

Roman Period (28 BC - 325 AD).

Romans continued the Greeks' use of flowers in their customs and traditions. As a matter of fact, they created even more elaborate 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 adopted from Greek and Roman styles. But they were the first to mix fruits with flowers in wreaths.

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

Middle Ages (476-1400 AD).

The presence of flowers in art waned during this era. They only appeared in tapestries. This resulted in the creation of 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 act as the subject of many art forms later in history.

Renaissance Period (1400-1600).

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

This led to the creation of now well-known Christmas wreaths. Renaissance artists were also keen on using flowers en masse in their floral arrangements.

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 then was not yet viewed as an art form.

Because of this, 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 components like birds' nests and eggs in their works.

French Period (1600-1814).

This period saw a distinct divide in the styles of floral arrangement. Delicate, arc-shaped designs dominated the Baroque period and Rococo. Simple, triangular shapes were the styles of times under King Louis XVI.

Early American Period (1620-1720).

Early American florists copied French Empire and English Georgian style. They set flowers en masse with different colors to adorn their homes.

English Georgian Period (1714-1760).

Floral design in this era usually comprised of a basic bunch of blossoms in a vase. Later on, they engaged in more elaborate designs. They even built vases for holding flowers at particular angles.

Colonial Williamsburg Period (1740-1780).

This era gave room for creativity and the arts, including floral arrangements. Artists created foliage with light feathers and grasses into fan-like shapes. They finished it off with stunning blossoms at the center.

Victorian Period (1837-1901).

During this time, floral design became even more lavish. It often comprised of overflowing flowers and foliage. Circular shapes became the standard. They also acclaimed roses as Europe's ideal. 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 blossoms to lighten the look. They also went on making vases for holding flowers.

Modern/ Contemporary Period (1890-Present).

Modern floral design began as a shift from Victorian design. It borrows from the Oriental focus on lines. But it also merges this with en masse arrangements from Western styles.

Click here for our next article about History of the Tradition of Flower Giving