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Speaking the Language of Love and Flowers

For Valentine’s Day, make a tussie-mussie filled with floral meaning

     Roses are red, dilly dilly, lavender is blue, dilly dilly, but a tussie-mussie made just for you is very special.
      Tight little circular nosegays were extremely popular in Victorian days. They were made in the language of flowers with each sprig having a specific meaning such as love, good luck or condolence.
      Their history is longer still. During times of plague, tussie-mussies filled with herbs were carried to, it was thought, prevent disease. Judges in the highest criminal courts in England carried tussie-mussies to prevent jail fever. Flowers were used in all rituals of daily life, harvest festivals, childbirth, marriage and death. From the 16th century on, tussie-mussies were essential accessories and carried or worn in hair, pinned to gowns or put into special silver or straw holders.
      The Victorians turned flower-giving into an art. They could convey a message for ladies who weren’t supposed to speak their mind. Books were published to express the language of flowers. It has been called the language of the love affair because most meanings represent the waxing and waning of romantic love.
     To make a tussie-mussie four to five inches tall, you will need some green floral tape that stretches and sticks to itself as you wind around the stems. The central flower should be a rose. Roses represent love, beauty, congratulations, reward of virtue, may you be pleased and your sorrows mine, grace and joy. Use one large rose or a stem of spray roses with three to five small roses. Cut them and arrange them in a tight small cluster and wrap several times with floral tape.
     Surround the roses with sprigs of lavender and continue taping. Lavender means devotion, luck, success, happiness or distrust. Ambiguities like this called for givers and receivers being on the same page in the same book.
      Strip the lower leaves off and surround the lavender with rosemary and continue wrapping around with floral tape. A small flower called globe amaranth is available during winter in many colors. Add those as your next layer to represent immortality. Add mini carnations to represent admiration. Thyme sprigs can be cut out of the garden at this time of year to represent courage. Sprigs of jasmine cut from an indoor pot represent transport of joy.
     Do your final wrap with the tape. Add some lace on the bottom or finish with a bow. Find somebody special to give it to, along with a note of the meanings.