by Kate McIntyre
Old House Web Columnist
Medieval sanitation and personal hygiene often fell short of today's high standards, so ladies and gentlemen needed a way to shield their delicate noses from the stenches and odors that plagued them. Their solution: the tussie mussie, a small, fragrant bouquet in which they could bury their noses when the going got stinky. The tussie mussie regained popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria, when it was joined by the lavender bottle, a self-contained lavender sachet that is great for perfuming closets and lingerie drawers.
Making a Tussie Mussie
Traditionally, tussie mussies were made using aromatic herbs such as artemesia and bergamot. Today, many people choose to put a single rose at the center of the bouquet, and to surround it with smaller flowers. Tussie mussies tend to be much smaller than normal bouquets--no more than six to eight inches. Once your bouquet is made, you will secure the stems together, cut a small hole in the center of a paper or cloth doily, and draw the stems through the doily.
Making a Lavender Bottle
To make a lavender bottle, all you need is around 15 newly picked, long, blooming stalks of lavender, a piece of twine, and a ribbon. Gather the lavender together so that the bottom of the flowers on each stalk is level. Tie a small piece of twine around the bundle of stalks directly under the flowers, and turn the bouquet upside down, so that the flowers are pointed down. Next comes the hard part. You will be bending each stem up and over the flowers, forming a cage around them. Try to work your way around in a circle so that the flowers are evenly covered by the stems. When you are done, tie the decorative ribbon around the stems.
Today, tussie mussies often appear at weddings, and lavender bottles are still prized for their good looks and fresh, clean scent. Both are easy and fun to make from plants in your own garden.
About the Author
Kate McIntyre is a writer in Portland, Oregon. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Oregon State University.
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