By Francesca Filanc for Let's Talk Plants! September 2021.
The first time I was taught how to make tussie-mussies, also spelled tussy mussy (among other variations), was by my friend Becky and a friend of her’s from the Del Mar Garden Club when they taught making tussie-mussies to the Olivenhain Garden Club, a club that Julie Anne Callis and I started in 1993 at the Town Hall.
The garden club always loves crafts, and this was a fabulous little flower bouquet to hang on the front doors of friends and family. It works any time of year but is so lovely for Valentine’s or May Day, or to put at the table for each guest at a luncheon, just to name a few.
Tussie-mussies were made of special herbs and spices in England during the Victorian era to ward off illness and plague. Subsequently, in the United States, they were used as a gift to a man or woman that a person has romantic feelings toward, also to put to one's nose as a person walked on the streets; people did not bathe regularly and there were foul smells everywhere on the streets from horse manure and sewage.
Making tussie-mussies today is a fun project to do with a group or by one’s self. I made them for a small garden group at an end of the year luncheon recently. Everyone was so happy to be able to be together in person and the tussie-mussies were a hit. Some ladies put them on their shirts to wear and some put them in their hats. Tussie-mussies are also a fabulous project to do with children. We made them this summer when all my family was able to come from Spain and other parts of California. All four of my granddaughters and their mothers joined in the fun!
To make Tussie-mussies:
Gather from your garden cuttings of lavender, rosemary, small roses, or rose buds, fragrant geraniums, sage, thyme, and other herbs to name a few. Set everything out on a big outdoor table in the shade. You will also need brightly colored ribbons, scissors, rubber bands, if you have them, but not necessary. When I did this project with my daughters and granddaughters, one of my granddaughters from Spain had fun picking all the flowers, herbs, and greenery to be used for the project.
Mikaela helped me set up the project. First, we put wax paper all over one of my round garden tables and then we organized all the ingredients for our project. This is creative and individual and the tussie-mussies are to be kept small. After arranging one the way you want it, you can use a rubber band to wrap around the stems. I many times just use ribbon if I am out of rubber bands. Then pick colorful ribbon. Cloth ribbons or paper. My favorite to use are cloth, but at holiday times of the year, bright green, gold and red paper ribbons to name a few look beautiful too. It is fun to use your creativity, imagination and talents to make your small bouquets special. Many times I think of the person that I am making one for and pick her favorite colors to make it special for her individual tastes. You will see how much your girlfriends love the tussie-mussies.
The great thing about tussie-mussies is they can be made year-round. If you don’t have a garden, you can buy cut flowers and herbs from someplace like Trader Joe's that always has fresh flowers and herbs. Tussie-mussies have so many uses. When I am having a dinner party, I line the table with them for a beautiful flower arrangement and the guests have fun taking them home as party favors.
Have fun making tussie-mussies and happy gardening!