What Is a Nosegay Bouquet?

Emma G.

Bouquets of flowers can be carried in weddings, sent to loved ones, or used in home decorating. One popular type of bouquet is the nosegay bouquet. The nosegay bouquet is often carried by bridesmaids and flower girls. It is made up of a small, round cluster of flowers backed by ribbon, tulle, or lace. This type of bouquet can easily be made at home.

Dill is often included in a nosegay.
Dill is often included in a nosegay.

Traditionally, the nosegay bouquet contains flowers of only one type or color, though modern bouquets may bend or break this rule. The small cluster of flowers is wrapped with ribbon or lace, creating a delicate background for the flowers. In modern language, the term "nosegay" is often used interchangeably with the term "posy," even though the two types of bouquets originally served different purposes. Nosegay bouquets may also be called tussie-mussies.

Red verbena's compact flowers would work well in a nosegay.
Red verbena's compact flowers would work well in a nosegay.

The nosegay bouquet is made in the hand-tied style, a style that also includes posies and beidermeiers. Posies are groups of flowers, the color and variety of which hold a special message. They are wired together and then the stems are wrapped in ribbon. Beidermeier bouquets are formed out of concentric circles of flowers, and each circle is made up of a different type of flower.

Although the nosegay bouquet is now used only for aesthetic and sometimes symbolic purposes, it originally had a utilitarian purpose as well. Carrying or wearing nosegays first became widely popular during the Victorian era. At that time, people rarely bathed, the streets were full of horses, and indoor plumbing was almost unheard of. Strong and often unpleasant odors were a normal part of everyday life.

The Victorian solution to the odor problem was the nosegay bouquet. Women carried them in their hands and both men and women wore them on their lapels. Bouquets allowed their bearer to carry the sweet smell of flowers around as a way to escape the smells of everyday life. The term "nosegay" refers to the bouquet's ability to keep the nose happy.

When choosing flowers for a nosegay bouquet, it is important to pick flowers that look well when gathered in a tight cluster. Some popular choices include roses, irises, and carnations. Sometimes greens are added around the edges of the flower cluster to create a border. A traditional nosegay uses fresh, sweet-smelling flowers and may even include fragrant herbs such as dill and rosemary. The stems of the greenery are cut to uniform length before they are wrapped with ribbon, tulle, or lace.

Nosegays are often carried by flower girls.
Nosegays are often carried by flower girls.

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Discussion Comments


Two other fragrant herb plants to add to nosegay bouquets are mint and lemongrass. These plants have wonderful scents, and compliment the fragrances of various flowers perfectly. They also add a nice hint of green to the creation.

I love to include baby's breath in nosegay bouquets. This delicate, little flower compliments other, more fragrant flowers such as roses or carnations perfectly. Small pieces of ferns also look great in nosegay bouquets. The green adds nice contrast, and helps to create a finished look for the bouquet.
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