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Timeline of the Development of Floral Design

In the last article, we learned about the history of flower arrangements. We went over the tales behind the names of flowers.

We also found out how societies used flowers in their daily lives. From there, we learned how floristry became the high-profit industry that it is now.

Here, we'll talk about how floral design progressed from ancient to modern-day styles. We'll go through each significant period in history. We'll track developments in floristry from Ancient Egypt to the Middle Ages.

Then, we'll cover art movements in France to the Victorian Period in Europe and America. Finally, we get to its contemporary forms today.

Interested in a formal course? Want to get certified as a flower expert? Check into organizations offering classes in floristry, like:

    American Institute of Floral Designers ( Society of American Florists ( American Floral Endowment (

Floral Design around the Globe.

We set out to set up a timeline of the changes in floral designs. Here, you'll find a short yet in-depth play by play of how floral design developed throughout history.

Let's see how designs transformed from fixed to innovative styles!

Egyptian Period (2800 - 28 BC).

Ancient Egyptians used flowers for temple offerings. They also arranged them in centerpieces for banquet tables.

They were also fond of showing off their wealth. One way to do that was weaving flowers like jasmine and violets into garlands.

These comprised of a single flower with a couple of leaves on both sides. This simple repeating pattern created an attractive design for their ceremonies.

Greek Period (600 - 150 BC).

Much like the Egyptians, the Greeks used flowers in religious practices. They crafted blossoms into garlands, wreaths, and laurels.

Cornucopias also became a standard in festive activities. The Greeks often used triangular forms for their creations. They featured white blossoms as a sign of purity.

Roman Period (28 BC - 325 AD).

Romans continued the Greeks' use of flowers in their customs and traditions. As a matter of fact, they created much more ornate designs of wreaths and ceremonial crowns.

It was also during this time that people began to make note of different floral scents. This then became an essential factor in building flower arrangements.

Byzantine Period (320-600 AD).

People in the Byzantine Era borrowed from Greek and Roman styles. But they were the first to mix fruits with flowers in garlands.

They also styled greens in vases to create harmony. For pleasing color palettes, they accented warm tones with cool hues.

Middle Ages (476-1400 AD).

The presence of florals in art died down during this era. They only appeared in tapestries. This brought on the creation of a line of cloths called millefleur. This translated to "thousand flowers".

Monks across Europe kept floral design alive. They tended to their gardens to increase varieties of flowers and foliage. These would serve as the focus of many art forms later in history.

Renaissance Period (1400-1600).

Oriental styles and the emphasis on balance influenced many Renaissance artists. They featured fruits and foliage in creating harmonious floral designs.

This led to the creation of now well-known Christmas wreaths. Renaissance artists were also keen on using flowers en masse in their floral arrangements.

Baroque (Flemish) Period (1600-1775).

Baroque painters were the ones who set trends in floral designs. (At least, the ones we still see today). Floristry by then was not yet seen as an art form.

As a result, flowers of assorted colors and sizes were often paired together. This was a way for the artist to express themselves. They also favored tall flowers and oval shapes in arrangements.

Artists from the Flemish period also started leaning more towards uneven designs. They used wild ornaments like birds' nests and eggs in their works.

French Period (1600-1814).

This period saw a clear break down in the styles of floral arrangement, Elegant, arc-shaped designs dominated the Baroque period and Rococo. Simple, triangular shapes were the styles of periods under King Louis XVI.

Early American Period (1620-1720).

Early American florists took after French Empire and English Georgian style. They set flowers en masse with different colors to decorate their homes.

English Georgian Period (1714-1760).

Floral design in this era usually consisted of a basic bundle of blossoms in a vase. Later on, they engaged in more elaborate designs. They even formed vases for keeping flowers at certain angles.

Colonial Williamsburg Period (1740-1780).

This era provided for creativity and the arts, including floral arrangements. Artists crafted foliage with fine feathers and grasses into fan-like shapes. They finished it off with bold blossoms at the center.

Victorian Period (1837-1901).

During this time, floral design became even more lavish. It often consisted of overflowing florals and foliage. Circular shapes became the norm. They also honored roses as Europe's favorite. Lilies, tulips, and other popular garden flowers complemented the center roses.

American Victorian Period (1820-1920).

America's Victorian period leaned towards deep colors. Colors like royal purple, ocean blue, and magenta were among their favorites. They often used white blossoms to lighten the look. They also carried on with making vases for holding flowers.

Modern floral design started as a shift from Victorian design. It borrows from the Oriental focus on lines. But it also combines this with en masse arrangements from Western styles.

Click here for our next article about Flowers and Their Roots