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PINK PEONY: The pink peony is be a beautiful circular flower for the center of a tussie-mussie. It has traditionally represented beauty as well as bashfulness.
In the early 19th-century, no Valentine’s Day celebration would have been complete without tussie-mussies: small, decorative bouquets of flowers that could be worn in one’s bosom, carried in a posy-holder, or displayed about the house. Measuring no more than 4" to 5" in diameter, these fragrant and tightly arranged nosegays consisted of a large, circular flower (such as a daisy) at the center surrounded by other smaller flowers, herbs, and foliage.
The essence of a traditional tussie-mussie, however, lay not only in its appearance, but also in the significance of its floral components. In addition to the then well-established exchange of Valentines, most Victorian men and women would have applied their knowledge of the language of flowers to convey a wide range of sentiments by either creating their own tussie-mussie or purchasing one from a florist.
The overall tastefulness and opulence of these small bouquets was said to reflect upon its maker’s sense of judgment, class, and refinement—so it’s no surprise that those who were not skilled in making them in 1860s New York were willing to pay upwards of $20 (the equivalent of $400, today) to get it right. To save you the expense of seeking an expert on the language of flowers and the making of your own Valentine’s Day bouquet, we’ve compiled a list of flowers and their associated meanings for your reference.