Writer and Photographer / Nancy Craig
Tussie-Mussies are a fun way of arranging flowers in a small bouquet to tell someone special that you love them or to express other sentiments by using the language of flowers. My great-nieces, Lindsey and Lauren, like to help me pick flowers and love to give them to their mom. We made her a very special Tussie-Mussie.
To get started, we used “Lab No. 49: Flower Arrangement” from our book, “Gardening Lab for Kids,” by Renata Fossen Brown. As we picked the flowers, the twins learned that you should leave some of the stem with the flower. They now understand that they need to be careful while picking roses and to let their Nana clip off the thorns before we make our bouquets.
This lab also had a project for my great-nephews, Max and Eli, to make a twig and twine cover for the mason jars that we used as flower vases. The lab furthermore had experiments for the boys to test different ways to help preserve the flowers. We added lemon, sugar and bleach to the water of three different vases to see which solution would keep the flowers blooming longer.
The most fun was picking out the flowers that would convey the message we wanted to express. We placed a rose for love in the center of the Tussie-Mussie for their mom and added these flowers around it: lavender for luck, daisies for innocence and baby’s breath for happiness. For my daughter’s birthday this month, her Tussie-Mussie will be centered on a calendula for health surrounded by basil for best wishes and artemisia for dignity.
I referenced several books in regards to the meanings of the flowers, but a special one is Kate Greenaway’s book, “Language of Flowers.” It is now an e-book. I shared with the kids some of the history and details of these types of bouquets from the book “Tussie-Mussies: The Language of Flowers” by Geraldine Adamich Laufer.
The twins were just devastated when their mother stopped the dandelions from growing in their yard, so the bouquet will not feature the pretty, yellow dandelions that they love. Dandelions mean “wishes come true.” I found a book, “Dandelions: Stars in the Grass,” by Robin Kerrod and Mia Posada that may change their mother’s mind about these amazing flowers we call weeds.
Tussie-Mussies can be made using all kinds of flowers, herbs, leaves, berries and even twigs, so we had lots of fun making these “talking bouquets.”