Sage Nosegay Bouquets

Nosegays have existed since medieval times in England.   They were worn about the neck or on clothing, probably to distract the wearer from how they actually smelled.  Hygiene has changed a lot since then!

Tussie-Mussies, as they were called in the Victorian Era, were given as gestures full of meaning. Flowers and herbs quickly took on a language of their own expressing the feelings or sentiment of the giver.  For example, a young suitor might reassure a distant lady with a tussie-mussie of forget-me-nots (true love), rosemary (remembrance), and southernwood (constancy).  If the lady found the bouquet not quite to her liking, she might send back yellow roses (for infidelity).  Her suitor would be pressed to reply with white violets (innocence) or lavender (devotion), assuring her of his honor and upright intentions.

Arranging the plants is akin to writing a letter.  But let the rules go out the window.  Your bouquet is a personal statement.  Some tussie-mussians, if that's a term, use a single sprig for each sentiment, using the plant offering the core sentiment as the center starting point, adding sprigs around it.  

Tussie-mussies that are to be carried?  Probably not so much today, but if you cut 2 squares of wax paper (use edging scissors for a nice touch of ornamentation), place a moistened cotton ball in the center of one of of the wax paper squares, close the center around the stems,  wrap and twist, secure with floral tape or string, then use the 2nd square underneath a doily, cutting the center with a X in the same way as the doily.   Read on my crafty doily curious friends.  

Paper doilies (make your own if you can't find them - fold into a triangle and cut the base creatively with edging scissors) were often used and finish the piece nicely.  

Note: Adding an additional square of wax paper underneath the doily will help keep the tussie-mussie's doily from getting waterlogged, especially if there's a chance it may end up in a vase of water.  

Cut an X in the center of the paper doily, fold down the points, and insert the stems and finish off with a pretty tied ribbon.  

Tussie-Mussies were made from the gardens and backyards of the maker, marking the creator's unique expression and the bouquet's distinctiveness.  That said, grab what you will from what you've got, or craft first from the language of herbs and flowers:

  • aloe - healing, shelter from harm
  • angelica - inspiration, magic
  • artemisia - happiness
  • aster - cheerfulness in old age
  • basil - love, good wishes, hate
  • bay laurel - achievement & fame, honor, reward of merit
  • beebalm - virtue
  • borage - bravery
  • bridal rose - happy love
  • calendula - sadness, hopelessness
  • camellia - unpretending excellence
  • carnation - lively & pure affection, pride & beauty, or pure love
  • carnation white - talent
  • chrysanthemum - cheerfulness under adversity
  • chamomile - wisdom, fortitude, energy under adversity
  • chervil - sincerity
  • chives - usefulness
  • cinquefoil - maternal or parental love
  • clover (white) - lightheartedness, think of me
  • coreopsis - always cheerful
  • coriander - hidden worth
  • corn flower - delicacy, single blessedness
  • costmary - sweetness
  • daffodil - regard
  • dill - good cheer, survival in the face of odds
  • elder - misfortune, zealousness, sympathy
  • eternal flower - eternity
  • everlasting - always remembered
  • fennel - grief, power, endurance, strength, worthy of praise
  • fern - magic, sincerity
  • forget-me-not - true love
  • fir (or pine) - philosophy, time
  • fumitory - hatred
  • geranium ivy-leaved - bridal favor
  • geranium lemon-scented - serenity, tranquility
  • geranium oak-leaved - true friendship
  • geranium scarlet - comfort, consolation
  • geranium scented - happiness
  • geranium unscented - folly
  • gladiolus - strength of character
  • globe amaranth - immortality
  • goldenrod - encouragement
  • honeysuckle - bonds of love, generous & devoted affection, fidelity
  • iris - pure heart, courage, faith
  • ivy - fidelity, friendship, marriage, wedded love
  • jasmine - amiability
  • juniper & juniper berries - protection
  • lady's mantle - protection
  • lavender - devotion, acknowledgement
  • larkspur - fickleness
  • lemon balm - sympathy, regeneration
  • lilic - first emotions of love
  • lily - majesty, purity, sweetness
  • lily of the valley - return of happiness
  • magnolia - love of nature
  • marjoram - joy, blushes
  • mint - virtue, refreshment
  • mistletoe - I surmount all obstacles
  • mock orange - fraternal affection, memory
  • monarda (bee balm) - I value your sympathy
  • mugwort - pleasant journeys
  • myrtle - love
  • nasturtium - heroism, patriotism
  • oak leaf - bravery
  • orange flowers - bridal festivity
  • orchid - a belle
  • pansy - thoughts
  • parsley - merriment
  • peppermint - cordiality, warmth of feeling
  • poppy - consolation, evanescent pleasure
  • rose - love, success, beauty
  • rose yellow - infidelity
  • rosebud - pure and lovely
  • rosemary - remembrance
  • rue - grief, repentance
  • SAGE - LONG LIFE, WISDOM, DOMESTIC VIRTUE, ESTEEM
  • salad burnet - cheerful disposition
  • salvia - wisdom
  • santolina - full of virtue
  • snowdrop - hope
  • southernwood - constancy
  • spearmint - warmth of sentiment
  • spruce - hope in adversity
  • sunflower - lofty thoughts
  • sweet sultan - happiness
  • sweet woodruff - humble spirit
  • tansy - hostility
  • tarragon - lasting involvement
  • tulip red - declaration of love
  • thyme - daring, activity, courage
  • violet - modesty, devotion, faith
  • violet white - innocence
  • verbena pink - family union
  • veronica - fidelity
  • wheat - prosperity
  • woodbine - fraternal love
  • yarrow - health
  • zinnia - thoughts of absent friends

(Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs & Flowers, the Angels' Alphabet: The Language and Poetry of Flowers)

My Sage Nosegay Bouquet rhymes and ages well.  Gift it when the herbs are fresh.  As they dry, a little squeeze brings their aroma back to life.  A bouquet also makes a nice ornament for the top of a wrapped gift.  You might include a gift tag with an short explanation of the meaning of the bouquet.

Note: Fresh sage $1.50 at the farmers market.  Can't beat that!

Gather sage into small bundles.  Trim lower leaves to expose stems.

Gather sage into small bundles.  Trim lower leaves to expose stems.

Secure sage bundles with string.

Secure sage bundles with string.

String ends through a button, knot, or tie in a double-knotted bow.

String ends through a button, knot, or tie in a double-knotted bow.

Cut netting.

Cut netting.

Option 1: Roll entire nosegay INSIDE the netting.

Option 1: Roll entire nosegay INSIDE the netting.

Option 1: Everything INSIDE netting.  Fold excess netting over stems & secure with string or a rubber band.

Option 1: Everything INSIDE netting.  Fold excess netting over stems & secure with string or a rubber band.

Option 2: Roll sage bundle INSIDE netting & secure with string and button OUTSIDE the netting.

Option 2: Roll sage bundle INSIDE netting & secure with string and button OUTSIDE the netting.

All done! Options 1 and 2 - take your pick.

All done! Options 1 and 2 - take your pick.

~it'smeheatherlea

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