I’ve always thought it was very camp but until now I don’t think I ever had the proper understanding of what it really was. I thought that herbs and flowers were gathered in posies and carried by ladies in the 16 and 1700’s to drown out the stench of sewerage, rotting rats and other smelly things. It was also before daily bathing was common and I suppose the tussy mussy would have come in handy regularly. I’ve imagined lavender, rosemary, thyme and all things herbal, dotted with sweet smelling flowers where possible. These were called originally called “nosegays”, and if that isn’t camp – what is?
Upon further research it seems they were around in the 1500’s too for the same reasons. It isn’t quite clear if the word “tus” refers to a cluster of flowers or comes from a similar word meaning tuft or clump.
So I’m right.
But it’s more than that!
Gentlemen callers sent posies to the one they admired whereby the flowers chosen had secret meanings! How devilish and exciting.
And….. there are special tussy mussy holders made from gold, silver and even glass that hold the posy in place as you gad about the town – taking whiffs whenever needed. You could then rest the posie on your table when finally at home.
I imagine beautiful violets in a traditional tussy mussy. I wonder what that means? Here are a few from about.com/gardening
Strands of ivy signified fidelity and friendship, gardenias conveyed a secret love, forsythia… anticipation. Shakespeare used them to enhance the story, as in Hamlet, when poor Ophelia laments “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.”
Baby’s Breath: Everlasting Love
Calla Lily: Magnificent Beauty
Camellia: Perfected Loveliness
Daffodil: Unrequited Love
Gardenia: Secret Love
Jasmine: Cheerful & Graceful
Lilac: First sign of love
Lily: Purity of Heart
Orange Blossom: Marriage and Fruitfulness
Red Rose: Passionate Rose
Sweet Pea: Good by
My client and amazing angel lady Doreen Virtue has written a book with an Australian Naturopath, Robert Reeves, about the language of flowers. It’s a beautiful book and of course differs from the list above. It’s worth a read if you LOVE flowers and the healing energy of mother nature. Check it out “Flower Therapy: Welcome the Angels of Nature into Your Life”.
Today I think it’s pretty simple. Flowers are always a beautiful gift and if you send red roses it probably does still signify love and passion. If you send anything else, it’s simply stunning. How could a flower have a negative connotation? And of course my choice would be scented flowers. Especially roses. I think if you are sending roses, ask for scented stems.
So next time you are on the holo-deck having a virtual Victorian experience, remember your nosegay or tussy mussy to get you through.