Imagine the lobby of a hospital. White walls, white linoleum flooring, black entrance mat. Bright fluorescent bulbs line the ceilings of long, branching hallways. Across from the reception desk, a waiting area is furnished with metal bench seating arranged around a black, plastic coffee table. Hanging racks hold magazines and colorful health pamphlets. The news is being silently broadcast from flatscreen TVs hung on the walls.
Everything is sterile, hard, and cold.
Now, imagine that when you walk into that same lobby, your eyes are automatically attracted to a large floral arrangement in a clear glass vase sitting proudly on the reception desk. Lightly pink peonies and white lilies are interspersed with green hydrangea, creating a lush, full design that cascades over the sides of the round bowl. Approaching the desk, the scent of the freshly-cut, sweet flowers replaces the harsh smell of disinfectant, and you are tempted to touch the soft petals.
Perhaps, as a patient, you feel more comfortable walking up to the reception desk. Perhaps the receptionist behind the counter has a little more energy and a brighter smile when welcoming clients. Perhaps everyone in the room can breathe a little easier.
If you’re a little skeptical of the difference a simple pot of flowers can make in a setting like a hospital, prepare to be surprised. The benefits of floristry are quickly becoming lauded by healthcare professionals and many hobbyists are turning to the activity as a way to improve physical and mental health. To be sure, floristry has always had a special place in Western society, and the best place for a budding florist to start is with the trade’s rich history.
So, just how far back does this go?
Human civilization has seemingly always been fascinated by flowers. The history of floral design (1) tells us that Ancient Egyptians decorated their architectural masterpieces with floral designs, while Olympians and Greek warriors were rewarded intricate floral wreaths for victory. We can also thank these societies for the innovation of perfume made from the essence of flowers.
The importance of floristry is closely tied to the development of European art, as well. Throughout European aristocracy, nobles and ladies were often painted holding flowers or lounging next to grand flower arrangements. According to historians (2), botanical imagery contained important societal significance as early as the fifteen century, and art dedicated solely to floral design has continued to be popular with artists as renown and worshipped as Van Gogh and Monet.
So, it’s no surprise that, today, floristry plays an important role in Western society. A wide array of events, from funerals to graduations to courageous acts of love, require the keen and creative eye of a seasoned florist. Even the First Lady of the United States has a close professional relationship with the White House Chief Floral Designer.
Why pursue floristry as a hobby?
Cultural significance aside, floristry is a fun and beneficial hobby, with some very interesting effects on our overall wellbeing.
Consider again the hospital lobby described above. Can we really believe that floristry can positively impact a medical setting? According to scientific evidence coming out of Kansas State University, the answer is a strong yes. Based on a 2008 study (3) of patients undergoing abdominal surgery, researchers discovered that patients exposed to flowering plants and floral arrangements not only reported feeling less anxious, but were recorded to have lower blood pressure and heart rate on the day of surgery and subsequent days of recovery. Similar studies have found higher pain tolerance for patients exposed to floral arrangements.
Given the intensity of surgery, the significance of these findings cannot be understated. For, if bouquets of flowers can help us during our most stressful moments, what can they do for us as a part of our daily lives?
Well, the journal Evolutionary Psychology (4) reveals that flowers have both immediate and long-term effects on our mood, increasing happiness and invoking intimacy. Interestingly, men and women both benefit from the presence of floral arrangements, despite social preconceptions of flowers as inherently feminine.
Are there any other perks?
Excitingly, floristry has a few other hidden benefits as well. As a creative outlet, floral design requires its students to hone in on specific visual arts skills which could improve cognitive processing and memory. For instance, a study (5) from Georgia Southern University revealed by “engaging in a highly creative act, individuals may be able to process information on a deeper level, then generalize to another task”.
In addition to improved brain functioning, floristry offers benefits such as creative expression, enhanced focus on detail, and problem solving.
What exactly does a floristry class entail?
If you’re excited about improving your mental health by learning more about floristry in Sydney, a beginner’s class is a great place to start. Even at a novice level, there are plenty of options to choose from: you can start with a class on home flower arrangements, floristry for special events, or even floral design for very special events, like weddings. Ikebana flower class at Yugaflora in Glebe and the flower arranging workshop with Laura Jade are great places to start your workshop search. They offer a range of pricing and class length, and even provide all flowers and materials to get you started!
Depending on the workshop you attend, a typical introductory class will cover basics, such as vase selection, seasonal pairings, and simple terrarium designs. Most classes are between two and four hours, so be prepared to spend an entire lovely morning surrounded by your favorite flora and fauna. Better yet, invite your friends for an enjoyable social engagement!
That’s the gist, now find out for yourself!
With floristry, the sky is the limit. By simply engaging in the field as a hobby, you can be sure to have access to a creative outlet that is available virtually anywhere in Australia or even the world! You may even start to feel the benefits on your wellbeing after your first workshop.
Or, if your first workshop completely sweeps you off your feet, consider pursuing a certification in the field. What better way to achieve personal fulfillment than to make your floristry hobby into a career!