Whether you call it a tussie-mussie, tuzzy muzzy, nosegay, or posy, this highly scented small flower and herb bouquet has been around for centuries. Just as nice now as it was 500 years ago, it makes a beautiful gift for friends and you can use a wide variety of flowers to make different scent combinations.

For some more medieval-style crafts, try my spiced orange pomanders or learn how to make a lavender wand. This post references notes from Barbra Milo Ohrback's book, The Scented Room, published 1986.

A small flower and herb bouquet tied with purple ribbon.
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What is a Tussie Mussie?

This name for the type of floral arrangement comes from the Victoria era, and it was simply a new name for the older nosegay. During the Victorian and Edwardian periods, the language of flowers was an important part of social life and these small bouquets were often given as tokens of affection to friends and lovers.

In the 18th century and earlier a nosegay was often carried as a way to ward off bad smells, or miasmas, as it was thought that the pleasant scents from flowers and herbs would encourage good health. Tussie-mussies are often made using paper doilies or special small silver holders, but this modern version uses ribbon instead.

Ingredients

You'll need a selection of flowers and herbs, of any variety you like, but try to use a combination that smells good to you.

Tussie mussie ingredients with labels.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Flowers: you can use any variety and colour you like, but I recommend choosing a couple complementary brightly-coloured flowers and then some lighter ones to go around the outside.
  • Herbs: or any greens. I almost always use sage, wormwood, silver wood, and lambs ear, with other herbs, but ladies mantle is nice too.
  • Ribbon: you can use a doily if preferred (see below) but those scraps of ribbon you've been saving are perfect for this!

How to Make a Nosegay

It's all about layering, with larger, brighter flowers in the centre and an outer layer of lighter flowers and soft herbs like lamb's ear.

Nosegay steps 1 to 4, starting with a rose and layering the flowers and herbs around.

Step 1: start with your largest flower, like a rose or lily, in the middle.

Step 2: add another circular row of flowers in a complementary colour.

Step 3: keep adding flowers until it looks how you'd like.

Step 4: finish with a row of soft herbs and greens, making sure to turn the nosegay so that it's all even.

Bouquet steps 5 and 6, fastening with elastic and ribbon.

Step 5: tie near the top of the stems with an elastic.

Step 6: add the ribbon and keep the stems damp or place it in a vase.

Top Tips

  • Use a doily: if you want to use a doily you will need two 6-inch paper doilies. Layer them and fold your doilies in half, then quarter it to give it a fluted edge. Cut a hole in the centre of both and stick your bouquet through.
  • Strip any thorns: this might seem like common sense, but if you're using roses or other thorny flowers, make sure to remove any thorns before adding to the tussie-mussie.
  • Wrap the stems: you can wrap the stems on your bouquet with floral tape or ribbon if you prefer a tidier look.

The Language of Flowers

  • Amaranth: unfading love
  • Angelica: inspiration
  • Balm: sympathy
  • White Clover: think of me
  • Daffodil: regards
  • Daisy: innocence
  • Forget-Me-Not: true love
  • Chervil: sincerity
  • Geranium: preference
  • Heliotrope: devotion
  • Hibiscus: beauty
  • Hollyhock: ambition
  • Honeysuckle: generous
  • Larkspur: lightness
  • Lily: purity
  • Magnolia: love of nature
  • Mimosa: sensitiveness
  • Mint: virtue
  • Mugwort: happiness
  • Nasturtium: patriotism
  • Pansy: thinking of you
  • Ranunculus: you are radiant
  • Rose: love
  • Rosemary: remembrance
  • Rosebud: unity
  • Sage: esteem
  • Stock: lasting beauty
  • Violet: faithfulness
  • Jasmine: amiability
  • Zinnia: thoughts of a friend
Woman's hand holding a small bouquet against a blue sky.

FAQ

What is the meaning of tussie mussie?

It's a nosegay or small bouquet, with the name first seen in English in the 15th century. There's no definite etymology but it's thought that it's derived from the Middle English tus, or cluster of flowers.

What is the difference between Tussie Mussie and nosegay?

There is no difference apart from the name (tussie-mussie is a newer term). They are sometimes differentiated in terms of how they're carried, with a tussie-mussie being held in a cone-shaped holder.

What flowers are used in a tussie-mussie?

You can use any flowers you like, and can choose some that match a message you're trying to send in the language of flowers. Think a red rose for true love, or zinnia for friendship.

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A small flower and herb bouquet tied with purple ribbon.
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Tussie-Mussie

Whether you call it a tussie-mussie, nosegay, or posy, this highly scented small flower and herb bouquet has been around for centuries.
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Servings: 1 bouquet
Author: Sophie

Equipment

  • 1 Pair of scissors
  • 1 elastic band
  • 1 Ribbon

Ingredients

  • 1 large flower like a rose or lily
  • Several smaller flowers
  • Herbs and/or greens

Instructions

  • Start with the large centre flower, laying it on a clean work surface. Add a row of smaller complementary-coloured flowers around it. Add another layer of smaller flowers, turning the nosegay as needed to make sure the layers are even.
    1 large flower, Several smaller flowers
  • For the last row, add a selection of greens and herbs like sage, wormwood, silverwood, lamb's ear, artemisia, or ladies mantle.
    Herbs and/or greens
  • Tie with an elastic at the top of the stems, trim the stems to an even length, then tie it all of with a ribbon. Make sure to keep the base of the stems damp or keep it in a vase with water.

Video

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