The nosegay

The nosegay (Okay, Class, got all of that puerile sniggering out of your system?) is anauthentically antique form of arrangement meant to deliver what it advertises: a littleposy of flowers as important for its scent as for its beauty. The name “nosegay”—since you were wondering—comes from pre-Victorian London, where magistrates,court officials, and other persons of wealth, both men and women, would fashionsomething pleasant-smelling to carry in the crowded streets in an era when personalhygiene resources were severely limited. Should a person with a particularly fetidaroma approach, the bearer could bring the nosegay to the nose and inhale, where itacted as a filter. The nosegay was worn from a loop on the belt or carried.In Victorian times, nosegays started to be made for transmitting the language oflove, although their use in this way in other cultures predates the Victorian age inEngland. Flowers were included not for their beauty or their fragrance, but for theirmeaning. The name “nosegay” changed to “tussie-mussie,” which better suited thedelicate sensibilities of the prim Victorians, who would have shied at having a bouquetnamed after a body part, even one as relatively tame as the nose.It has only been in more recent times that the nosegay, while still giving a nod tofragrance, has become simply a lovely gift.The nosegay is a stepping-stone to bigger and better bouquets. Generally, nosegayshave a round outline when viewed from above and are domed when seen in profile.We do not need to be slaves to this description; it is just the basic shape from which towork. Tendrils and fluff floating beyond these perimeters are certainly allowable.Once you know how to make a passable nosegay, you can expand it or pare it downto suit your needs. Whether you include elements of floral language should dependon knowing if the recipient will get the message.

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