The Victorian era was named for Queen Victoria who ruled England from 1837 to 1901. The Victorian era contributed the most to establishing floral design as an art. The art of floral design was taught and thoroughly covered in books and magazines of that era. This era established many rules and techniques of floral design. Two design styles were popular large, abundant, masses of flowers and small, mixed, informal bouquets. The larger designs were generally round or oval with draping or trailing plant materials, such as fuchsias or bleeding hearts, to give a touch of the romantic. No obvious center of interest was created. Flowers of all types, especially new or unusual flowers, were favored. Foliage was prominently incorporated into designs, often at the edges to soften the framework.

The language of flowers was studied and used to convey meaning to communicate with others, especially during courtship. The tradition of sending flowers to ladies before social events was begun during this period. The Victorians were much more elaborate and thorough in attaching meanings to plants. Rosemary for remembrance was a Victorian example of a plant’s meaning. Roses varied in their meaning depending upon the color. For example, red was love, white was silence, and yellow meant infidelity. Heliotrope meant eternal love; larkspur was fickleness.

Popular containers were urns, vases, bottles, epergnes , tussie-mussie holders, wall pockets, cornucopias, and baskets. Glass was very popular although many containers were also made out of metal, ceramic material, and porcelain. The Victorians loved accessories, such as fans, figurines, shells, knickknacks, and glass paperweights.

Influence on Today’s Designs

The romantic look of the Victorian era is still a popular one today. Draping or trailing material added to soften an arrangement’s silhouette makes a beautiful contemporary romantic design. The addition of foliage is an important component of today’s designs. The Victorian era marked the beginning of floral design as an art form. Floral design became a creative field to study. The emphasis on the art and necessity of training during the Victorian era set the stage for the modern day florist.



The European design styles greatly influenced the early American floral styles. American Colonial period styles were much simpler and also con-tained flowers and foliage that were native to the United States. The addition of grains, grasses, and dried flowers made American design styles very  unique compared to their European counterparts. Colonial ladies often arranged flowers of the same kind in bowls or baskets and then added filler flowers, such as baby’s breath. Other casual designs for the home were generally very colorful mixtures of simple naturalistic styles in vases, pots, or jars. Fan-shaped and triangular arrangements were very popular for more formal events for the home or church. Five-fingered vases, epergnes, urns, and stem cups were other commonly used containers.

Influence on Today’s Designs

The incorporation of dried materials with fresh flowers was introduced during this period and is still a popular technique today. Simple, naturalistic arrangements of one kind or simple colorful mixtures continue to be popular designs for the home.

Influence on Today’s Designs

The line mass style and the free form style added a new dimension to the florist industry beginning in the 1950s and 1960s. Variations of these design styles are still popular today. The space and linear component of the line mass continue to add vitality and drama to designs. Expressiveness is still important and allows for unique interpretations and uses of plant materials.

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