Tussie-Mussie: The Language of Flowers (Paperback-review)


Flowers can say all kinds of things:

“I love you”

“How could you?!”

“Let’s get married”

“Happy Birthday”

just about anything. I orginally got this book for some research on Victorian customs and realized it can still be used today. This book goes way past just pretty pictures, though there are dozens of ideas for Tussie-Mussies to give to friends and family. There is a history of Tussie-Mussies and a Step by Step guide to making a Tussie-Mussie in the front, and — my personal favorite — TWO glossaries, a Vocabulary of Flowers and an Index of Sentiments. For research or fun, this is definitely the book to have.

Now let’s get busy and start making some Tussie-Mussies!  Our friends and family will be delighted!


How To Make a Tussie-Mussie



Tussie-mussies were small handheld fragrant bouquets often wrapped in lace doilies. Most often, they were a combination of fragrant herbs; each had its own meaning and a single central flower. Great care was taken to combine the selection in such a way that its meaning was accurately expressed. Tussie-mussies were also known as nosegays. They were sometimes carried at nose level to block out some of the unpleasant odors common during the Victorian Era. Suitors presented tussie-mussies to their ladies and watched to see if they were held at heart level, which indicated happiness and acceptance. Tussie-mussies held pointing downward were a sign of rejection. Not only did a certain flower have significance, but colors also expressed variations in intent or emotions. Even today, a red rose is said to be an expression of passionate or true love, a pink rose is a sign of warm affection, white roses are associated with purity, and yellow roses with friendship. (Unless you are a passionate Texan!)

Flower Meanings – Flowers and their meanings have changed throughout the years as many of the original meanings were forgotten. Cultural differences and even regional areas influence the meaning of flowers. Today flowers are connected with birthdays or a State Flower rather than a lot of intricate meaning.

Tussie-Mussies: “Talking Bouquets” – Tussie-mussies are also called nose bouquets. Traditionally composed of fragrant herbs held tightly together in a circular design with a single flower in the center, they became a popular floral gift during Victorian times. The custom of sending subtle communications with flowers began to influence what flowers were chosen based on the intended message.

Tussie-Mussies – During the Victorian Era, flowers were combined to signify messages. Small tightly composed hand-held bouquets known as tussie-mussies or a nosegay was given as gifts and to acknowledge special occasions. The way a bouquet was held often indicated acceptance, acknowledgement, or approval. Though today’s bridal bouquets are generally larger than a nosegay, they are a modern example of a tussie-mussie.


Materials Needed

  • Filler plants (see note below)
  • A large flower for the tussie-mussie heart
  • Scissors or small pruners
  • Hole punch
  • Paper doily
  • Curling ribbon or raffia
  • Floral tape
  • Index card
  • Colored pencils
  • A glass of water

Note:  Suggested filler plants include baby’s breath, pansies, violets and fragrant herbs. I used a pink rose for  the centerpiece (if you’ve been reading my blog you know the pink rose symbolizes ?????  You are right! Warm  Affection or Perfect Happiness) Add baby’s breath as filler and large rose leaves and ivy to surround the rose. A tiny bunch of perfection for someone you are warm and fuzzy about!

Use the language of flowers list that I included in previous posts to gather plants for your chosen meaning for your  tussie-mussie. Cut the plants in four to six inch lengths.  Strip the bottom  leaves, and rest the plants in a glass of water while you work.  Hold the center  of the flower in one hand, and surround it with a suitable layer of filler  plants.  Secure all stems with floral tape.  Arrange large leaves such as ivy  around the outer edge of the tussie-mussie center to border it.  Secure this,  too, with floral tape.  Cut a hole in the middle of the doily by marking an X  there.  Insert the trunk of the tussie-mussie plants into the precut doily and  secure the base of it with floral tape.  Tie curling ribbon or raffia onto the  tussie-mussie’s trunk at the base of the doily.  Fold an index card in half, and  punch a hole at the top left corner of it.  Use colored pencils to write a brief  sentiment on the index card, and attach it to the tussie-mussie.

Your tussie-mussie is now complete.