Throughout history people have used flowers to express their feelings of love and friendship, enhance their surroundings, and engage in various rituals.
The earliest known practice of flower arranging has been recorded in ancient Egypt. It seems that Egyptians were decorating with flowers as early as 2,500 BC. Egyptians were placing their cut flowers regularly in vases. The flowers used for the arrangements made by the ancient Egyptians were carefully selected according to their symbolic meaning, with an emphasis placed on religious meaning. The lotus flower or water lily, for example, is considered to be sacred to the Goddess Isis. Therefore, this flower was often included in flower arrangements. The Egyptians vases were very interesting in design. Some had several openings, as the pot on the upper left shows, made to arrange flowers and plants.
The ancient Greeks and Romans used flowers a lot in their daily lives. Here, however, flowers were used mostly in the form of garlands, wreaths, and chaplets. They also enjoyed tossing petals onto the floor and onto beds. The most popular foliage used by the Greeks and the Romans were acorns, oak leaves, laurel, ivy, bay and parsley. Laurel wreaths were presented to winners of athletic competitions in the ancient Olympics. These same wreaths were also awarded to individuals winning competition in poetic meets
Chinese also loved their flowers deeply. Followers of Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian thinking all placed cut flowers at their altars regularly. This practice seems to date all the way back to at least 618-906 A.D. In addition to placing the cut flowers in water at their temples, the ancient Chinese showed their love and appreciation for flowers by creating paintings, carvings, and embroidered items with depictions of flowers. The most honoured flower for the Chinese was the peony. Called ‘the king of flowers’, symbolized wealth, prosperous fortune and high societal position.
Europe showed the emergence of flower arranging around 1000 A.D.
The concept of flower arranging didn’t arrive in Europe until around 1000 CE Before this time, European countries were deep in the Dark Ages and people had hardly any room for pleasures in their own lives. As they came out of this period, however, plants and flowers started to be commonly used for decoration, especially in churches and monasteries where flowers and plants were used for food as well as for decoration. As crusaders came back from the Middle East, they brought new and interesting plants with them. As a result, European countries were able to begin experimenting with plants that were previously unknown to them.
The Italian Renaissance helped give flower arranging an extra spark in European countries. It was during this time period that a wide variety of arrangement styles began to develop. By the time the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries rolled around, flower arrangements were commonplace and a wide variety of materials were used to make containers for holding the flowers. These included marble, heavy Venetian glass, and bronze.
Flower arrangements made during this time introduced a whole new element - using tropical fruits. These arrangements also focused on creating contrast with color. Some of the popular flowers used in arrangements at this time included the Lilium Candidum, or Madonna lilu, which was used to symbolize fertility and chastity. Other popular choices included narcissus, pinks, iris, jasmine, pansies, French marigolds, cornflowers, and rosemary.