• Fresh roses, herbs, other flowers, and leaves
• Waxed floral tape
• Pruning shears or scissors
• 1 finger cut from a cotton-knit glove
• Tapestry needle
• Elastic thread
• 2/3 yard 3-inch-wide lace
• 1 yard double-sided satin ribbon about 1/2 inch wide to match or complement one of the flower colors
1. Plan your message, and then choose and assemble the flowers and herbs that you want to use.
2. Trim all the stems to 5 to 6 inches long and strip the leaves off the lower half of the stems.
3. Choose a rose or other prominent flower for the center of the tussie-mussie, surround it with sprigs of herbs, and bind the stems together with floral tape. The warmth from your hands makes the waxed tape stretchy and able to stick to itself.
4. Surround the center flowers with concentric circles of herbs alternating with flowers, securing each circle of stems with floral tape. Take care to keep the tops of the herbs and flowers even, forming a mounded or mushroom silhouette. Continue to add circles until the tussie-mussie is 4 to 6 inches in diameter and all your floral symbols have been included.
5. Frame the tussie-mussie with a circle of larger leaves (such as lamb’s-ears, ivy, or scented-geranium leaves), overlapping them evenly around the outside edge. Bind these in place with floral tape.
6. With the pruning shears, trim the stems to 3 inches long, or about the width of your palm.
7. Slip the glove finger up over the cut stems to make a smooth handle by which the tussie-mussie may be carried. Because it is absorbent, it will hold moisture around the stems and help to keep them fresh. I use inexpensive cotton-knit gloves from a photography store, at a cost of a dime per finger.
8. Thread the tapestry needle with the elastic thread and sew a running stitch along one edge of the lace. Then tie the elastic to form a circle. Pull the resulting stretchy collar up over the stems and tuck it under the frame of leaves. Real lace is not only beautiful, but it is also more durable than paper lace doilies, which tear when wet. Antique lace may be used, or the lace can match a wedding gown or party dress. Even the most inexpensive lace looks lovely.
9. Finish the tussie-mussie by tying the satin ribbon around the stem handle right below the lace. Tie a bow. You may also tie overhand knots in the ends of the streamers for good luck, slipping a sprig of rosemary or statice (remembrance) into each one.
10. Write out a little gift card listing the plants and their meanings.
Geri Laufer is a professional tussie-mussie maker, a horticulturist, lecturer, author, and herb gardener in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Victorian Tussie Mussie