Category Archives: Gardening and flowers

Violets the Fad This Winter: 1893

hand painted violet fan

VIOLETS THE FAD THIS WINTER.

They Will Appear in Every Sort of Shape That Fashion Can Suggest.

The violet is the flower of the coming winter.

All the new things of every sort are covered with violets. The new embroidery patterns are in violets. The new candleshades have paper violets stuck upon them. Even the candles are of a novel tint–purple.

The newest ribbons in the shops are violet, the color running through a surprising number of shades. The latest fancy soaps are wrapped in violet-colored paper. Note paper in pale violet is to be a fashionable fad, and my lady will scent her dainty mouchoir with violet perfume.

Some of the swellest Washington women are going to give violet teas during the coming season. On these occasions of modish festivity many gowns will be worn of white silk with violets brocaded upon them, the corsage bouquets being great bunches of the same flowers. One dress already designed will have a low cut bodice entirely surrounded by a deep wreath of violets. At tea tables violet ribbons will be stretched from the candles to the chandeliers above, forming a sort of May pole effect.

A Violet Room.

One Washington house already has a whole room done in pale violet–the wall paper, hangings, furniture coverings, everything. A pretty effect is produced by making violet the color-motive for a lady’s bedchamber. The counterpane and pillow shams may be of white muslin over violet, and the dressing table in the same materials, tied with great violet bows in several shades. If nothing else is done in recognition of this new fad, one should have at least one sofa pillow of violet.

Violet has even become the proper color for babies, replacing the old-fashioned blue and pink. The violet tea gown will be very much the thing. It Is noticed that all the newest and most dainty porcelains are ornamented with violets, either scattered about or in solid bunches. The latest designs in jewelry are in these flowers, and fancy pins and such trifles in violets will be popular as gifts for the approaching Christmas.

Of course, this rage for violets will add greatly to the price of those blossoms during the coming winter. Many women win mix imitation ones with the real for economy’s sake, and their bouquets will not be less beautiful for that reason. Violets are perhaps more successfully imitated than any other flowers.

A Clerk in the Business.

A young Washington lady employed in the Treasury Department is likely to find this a profitable season for a pleasant business which she devotes her leisure moments to conducting. She raises violets on a small farm of her own near Anacostia. The work is very easy. She has more than 30 glass sashes, under which the flowers bloom all winter long. In May each year she has some fresh ground plowed, and in it she plants all of her violets, taken from beneath the sashes for that purpose. Then she simply takes up the sashes, covers the newly planted violets with them, and the work Is done.

In October they begin to bloom, and continue all through the winter, so that the young lady can pick them every day and send them to market. All of her violet plants came from one little pot which she bought at the Center market five years ago. They are made to multiply by dividing the roots, so that a single plant taken up in the spring will supply a score or more. She sells her violets to florists in Washington or New York. Prices are higher in the metropolis, so that it pays to express them on. They never bring less than a cent apiece, and sometimes two cents.

There is always a market for violets, and there is never any difficulty in disposing of them. Any florist is glad to buy them, if they are good ones and in prime condition. They must be picked always in the afternoon, because otherwise they lose their perfume. To ship them, they must be placed in bunches in pasteboard boxes, with waxed paper folded loosely around them. They must not be touched with water, because to do so will take away their sweetness.

Evening Star [Washington DC] 11 November 1893: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has previously written about how to give a “violet luncheon.” Should her readers require the details of a “violet tea,” albeit of a more lavish variety than usually seen in suburban households, this article gives some helpful suggestions.

Extravagant Hospitality

The afternoon teas of the coming season will be more elaborate than ever before. One leader in society will give one in a few weeks which will eclipse anything of the kind ever seen. It is to be a violet tea. The table will be laid for twelve. The cloth used upon this occasion will be one of six which the hostess had made abroad by special order. They all are of a heavy white satin, each embroidered in different designs. The one to be used upon this occasion is embroidered in violets. They lie in clusters, all over the shining white surface and the work is so admirably done that one would think they had been plucked and dropped there. The tea service is of Royal Worcester, also made by special order, with a design of violets upon a rich cream ground. There are 188 pieces in this tea service, and the average cost is $30 for each, piece. The napkins are of satin, with a design of violets embroidered in one corner. The favors will be painted upon porcelain, and although all different each will be a design of violets.

Under the table will be a large Wilton rug of cream with violets scattered over it The valance dependent from the mantel will be of creamy plush, with a border of embroidered violets and a lining of violet satin. The portieres will be of heavy white felt with a border of violets. The lamps will all have violet shades, so that the light will be like an Indian summer haze.

Arkansas City [KS] Daily Traveler 9 January 1890: p. 2

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Pine Tree Perfume Cure: 1906

pine needle pillow

PINE TREE PERFUME CURE.

SWEET SCENTS A RESTORER OF TIRED NERVES.

The Odor of the Pines the Perfume That Women Rely on Most Just Now to Drive Away the Blues

Perfumed Sea Salt for Bath

Scented Moth Barriers.

Pine needle and sweet perfumes are used to soothe the nerves of the New York woman. It has been discovered that you need not be out of sorts unless you want to be, and in addition that you can cure your troublesome nerves with nice sweet odors instead of resorting to unpleasant drugs.

The first and most particular rule is that the sweet odors must be natural ones. There must be no made-up perfumes. The scents must be those that grow in the parks and spring up in the woods, that come to life with the budding of the flowers and die down when the flowers fade.

Those who are trying the perfume cure are giving their attention just now to pine scents mostly. If you want to get the genuine pine odor, take a pine pillow no matter how old and lay it near the fire.

In a little while it will begin to warm up and to give out sweet scents. You will be treated to the original odor of the pine.

There is a very nervous and very sensitive woman in New York who treats herself every day to the pine needle cure. When she was away last summer she gathered material for many pillows of pine needles.

When she is tired she takes a pillow and warms it and presently it begins to give out a sweet smell of pines. Then she puts the pillow behind her head and in a little while she feels refreshed.

On days when she is very tired In deed and needs a quick freshing she takes a dozen pillows and heats them very quickly. With these she furnishes her couch. She heaps it high with pillows and then she lies down and breathes the sweet scent. In 15 minutes she feels all right again.

There is an extra nervous woman in town who has a comfortable stuffed with pine needles. She gathered the needles this fall, and then she put them in the comfortable and quilted it just as though she were quilting feathers.

Pretty soon she had a thick, sweet, beautiful covering. It was heavy, but so delicious that she did not mind the weight.

Some nights when she is very weary she sleeps with this heavy pine comfortable over her. Again she heats it and puts it underneath her. It is refreshing, no matter how she uses it.

If you like sweet scents and want to try the perfume cure you can get them by utilizing odds and ends about the house. You will be surprised to find how many you can turn into perfume.

Take apple peelings and dry them and some day when the house seems muggy take a handful and throw them on the stove. Take off the peelings before they begin to burn, but leave them on just long enough to get the delicious fumes they will give out, the fumes that are so delightful when they come out of the oven as baked apples are cooking. Some women keep a chafing dish always handy for the making of sweet scents. Into the chafing dish they can put a little cologne, which when heated will send its fragrance through the room, or they can add a pinch of cinnamon or half a drop of oil of cloves, or even a tiny bit of apple peeling. It takes very little to make a pleasant smell in the room.

The influence of odors upon the spirits can hardly be overestimated. If you will go in a pine forest you are greeted with a smell which is invigorating, in its curious buoyancy.

If you go into a clover field you get an odor which is just as pleasant but altogether different, and this odor can be brought into the house in winter by taking clover heads, drying them and stuffing pillows with them. On some muggy, gloomy day the pillow can be warmed up and you have a perfume which is delightful.

If you want something particularly pleasant take some sea salt and put it in a wide mouthed bottle and pour in a few drops of violet perfume. Close the bottle tight, let it stand a while, then open, and you get the curious smell of salt sea, with a slight tinge of violet, which is always found in salt air.

If you want to take a bath in some thing that is very sweet smelling prepare some sea salt after this fashion: Buy the salt at the drug store; take a big handful of it, lay it in a bottle and add some violet perfume. Let it stand three days and it is ready for the bath.

Another plan is to add to the sea salt a grain of musk, a little essence of violet and finally about a teaspoonful of alcohol. Set the bottle away for three days, turning it twice a day.

When you are ready to take your bath, throw a handful of the sea salt into the water. It will perfume the water without making it too salty. Take a jug of salt, and into a gallon jug pour half an ounce of rose geranium oil and a cup of alcohol. Turn your jug upside down. Let it stand a day or so, and so on until you have worked with it three weeks. The result will be a very nice jug of sweet smells.

There come squares of a preparation of ammonia which can be made into very nice bath vinegar. Take a dozen or more of these solid pieces and add just enough violet perfume to cover them.

Then add spirits of cologne until you have a pint bottle nicely filled. This makes a delicious bath vinegar, which can be used every day for two weeks, for it takes very little to perfume the water.

If you like your hands to smell sweet, and to some people there is something positively intoxicating about a pair of sweet hands, you can make a hand wash by taking a quart of spirits of cologne, put it in a half gallon jug, add an ounce of oil of rose geranium and two grains of musk. Let it stand a week; then fill up with spirits of cologne. At the end of another week you will have as fine a gallon of perfume as you will want. When you are ready to wash your hands, with this sweet mixture take a bowl of warm water and add to it a pinch of powdered borax. Into this put half a wine glass of perfume.

Use no soap, but keep this water for rinsing. It will impart a lasting fragrance which will remain upon your hands from morning until night.

Have you ever tried putting up your winter furs in perfumery? Make some sachets and scatter them through the storage chest, thus using sachet powders instead of camphor. You will find that the moths stay away just as well and the furs come out in the fall smelling sweet. And the same thing with clothes those which you are putting away until spring. Many of them are of cashmere and light wool and you don’t want the moths to get into them. Put them away between layers of sachets and you will find that you will have never a moth.

There is a story told of a woman who spent the summer upon the Jersey coast where mosquitoes are thick. Not wanting to be eaten alive she sprinkled her bedroom with sachet powder until the whole room was filled with the perfume. All night long she slept in peace.

Animals do not as a rule like strong odors, and disease germs are particularly averse to them. A strong odor of rose will drive away many of the contagious diseases, so some scientists affirm, and you can actually keep yourself well by having nice smells around you.

Attar of rose is very effective, but unfortunately it is expensive. Oil of rose geranium is very effective and there are other extracts which can be bought and used to good advantage.

In old fashioned German households the custom prevails of buying a certain amount of good perfume every year. This perfume is bought not to be bottled and preserved, but to be used, and when it disappears more is purchased.

The fad for a distinctive odor is dying away, and women are inclined to scent themselves like an English garden. An English garden is one in which all the common flowers grow, and when you take a sniff of it you do not know whether you are smelling violets or mignonette, geraniums or roses, delicate pansies or strong heliotrope. Thus it is fashionable to mingle your perfumes.

The pine tree scent is the odor of the moment, and wise women are making little bags of pine and heaping them up, so that they and their apartments may smell like a pine tree. New York Sun.

Pointe Coupee Banner [New Roads, LA] 24 March 1906: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The modern “aroma-therapy” industry is nothing new.  So many of the suggestions in this article are still current: persons selling homes are urged to bake an apple pie or boil apple peels and cinnamon to create a “welcome-home” atmosphere. Scented bath-salts and candles are a popular hostess gift. And in this scientific age, when we are supposed to have moved beyond the whimsical theory that germs are animals that will flee at the scent of roses, we find aggressively scented “anti-bacterial” sprays. One can also buy “pine scent” to give the artificial Christmas tree a whiff of holidays past without the necessity of cleaning up pine needles for months afterwards.

One physician claimed that pine-needles were a handy specific for influenza, although Mrs Daffodil is pursing her lips dubiously at the method of delivery:

Pine-Needle Cigar and Cigarettes in Influenza.—As an item of interest, the quickest relief from Influenza which my patients obtain, is through the use of pine-needle cigars and cigarettes. I find that they will act as a preventative, and once the disease has instituted proceedings they act like magic. Any one can make the cigarettes. I have no hesitancy in recommending their use, as nothing is used in their manufacture but the fresh pine needle and the best of tobacco a non-smoker can inhale with no unpleasant effects.—Harry Neafle, M. D., in the Medical News.

The Medical Age Vol. 8, 1890: p. 20

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Vegetable Fancy Dress: 1889

cabbage leaf costume fancy dress

A VEGETARIAN FROLIC

A little while ago it was my good fortune to attend a most peculiar fancy dress party. It was held at a big country house, and the distinguishing feature of the affair was that every person was compelled to either dress as a vegetable or in a costume decorated with one. Although at first thought this seems to give but little scope to either taste or imagination, some really pretty toilets were arranged, the foundations of which embraced almost everything, including partly worn silks, natty street dresses, and dainty lace and mull gowns.

One stately dame in a trained black silk and  powdered hair, wore an Elizabethan ruff, plumes for the hair, and carried an immense fan, all composed of the crisply curled leaves of the kale plant.

A little auburn-haired beauty transformed her directoire gown into a very good representation of carrots by removing all the buttons and substituting slices of the vegetable, while the entire front was decorated with pressed carrot leaves.

onion fancy dress croce

Soup vegetables made a very attractive costume. A white mull dress with sprigs of parsley used effectively over it, and a tiny basket of the smallest of the other vegetables to be obtained.

A black lace gown, a profusion of bangles cut from a large yellow turnip, hair ornament of the same, and a corsage bouquet cut from white and yellow turnips and embellished with their foliage, was the costume evolved in honor of that plebeian vegetable by a young lady, with the help of a younger brother with a talent for fancy carving.

white asparagus fancy drss croce

Red peppers were used with pretty effect upon another black lace gown, but great care had to be exercised in placing them so that neither the wearer nor those who came in contact with her should suffer from their fiery nature.

Most of the members of the sterner sex contented themselves with a vegetable boutonniere, but one ambitious youth covered himself with glory and his business suit with corn husks arranged layer upon layer. His appearance can be better imagined than described.

Many other pretty, dainty, or funny toilets were contributed using popped corn, slices of pumpkin, pale green lettuce leaves, etc., for decoration.

Pieces of chamois, strips of flannel and stout linen were used underneath some of the cut vegetables to protect the dress fabric form stains.

ONE WHO WAS THERE.

American Gardening: November, 1889: p. 409

vegetable ball

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  A fête which gave new meaning to the phrase “salad dressing.”

One imagines that the fall evening was chill; hence, no one adopted the original vegetable costume:

Leader of Fashion: “Oh, yes, this is the new vegetable costume suggested, you know, by that vegetarian dinner. What do you think of it?”

Cynic “Hum—pretty idea, but old—very old.”

Leader of Fashion (horrified) “Old! Why the dressmaker told us these were the very first. Who can have worn a vegetarian dress before us?”

Cynic: “Eve!”

Aberdeen [Scotland] Weekly Journal and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland 25 October 1884: p. 2

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

A Front-Yard Party: 1904

A Front-Yard Party

By Lily Manker Allen

My sister was with us from the East—we always spell that word with a capital in California—and I wanted to have her meet some of our young lady acquaintances. I must give a party, but how?

I took mental account of the available space in our cottage; parlor so small that half a dozen people made it seem crowded; dining room still smaller; ten by twelve bedroom, and no folding doors. I went out on the piazza and again took account of stock: A fifty-foot city lot on a quiet street. with near neighbors on either side; small lawn, perhaps thirty-five by twenty feet; narrow piazza running across the front of the house, covered with vines at one end. Not very promising, surely. But I set my wits to work and enlisted the wits and the muscles of the Capable Man, and the remembrance of the beautiful tea-garden we evolved has been a joy ever since.

First, a rope was fastened to the corner of the house about eight feet from the ground: this was made to encircle the entire lawn, being fastened at the outer corners to stout poles which were kept in place by means of guy ropes tied to stakes outside. A second rope three feet from the ground was similarly fastened, running around as far as the walk at the side, leaving a gateway.

Graceful, feathery date palm fronds from ten to twelve feet high were then made fast to the ropes to form a screen all around, the heavy ends resting on the ground. Had we lived in Massachusetts, we might have used willow or some other feathery branches.

The pine tree in the next yard shaded part of our lawn, and with my neighbor’s kind permission a hammock was stretched from it to the corner of the piazza, and another from the other corner to our own pine tree.

The blossoms of the rich pinkish purple bourgainvillias vine on the porch gave the touch of flower color needed with the green, and a huge Japanese umbrella was placed in the center of the lawn.

The vine-covered end of the piazza was fitted up for a dressing room, with bureau, hat rack and table, while the open end was furnished with a small couch, cushions and a small table of ferns. A large rug was laid over the steps, which were also furnished with cushions along the sides. An old wagon seat covered with a carriage robe was placed against the trunk of the pine tree, and rugs, easy chairs and cushions were scattered over the lawn.

California skies never fail us in summer; I could be sure of plenty of sunshine. The guests had been invited to an outdoor party, and no doubt came with much wonderment as to how I could entertain an outdoor party.

Each was given a little booklet with dark green covers, shaped like an ivy leaf and with pencil attached. Inside was a guessing contest containing questions about trees, such as “What tree would bark?” “What tree would mew?” etc.

The last page was reserved for a contest of a different sort; the guests were asked to guess the number of tiny shells in a small jar, the one guessing nearest receiving as many little gilt stars as there were persons present, the next one next, and so on, the one guessing widest of the mark receiving but one. These were pasted on the booklets by way of decoration.

I suppose the refreshments should have been tea and wafers, but the day being warm, ice cream and cake were served instead. When the afternoon was over, we were so pleased with our success that we resolved to give another party the next day, this time for the neighbors who had so kindly helped us out in our plans of the day before. Our only regret on looking back to our charming tea-garden is that we neglected to have it photographed as we intended.

Good Housekeeping Vol. 39, 1904: p. 204

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The garden party under a marquee, is, of course, a recognised fixture of English life. However, in the States, this form of entertainment has a more dubious record, being plagued by weather and insects. Some form of comprehensive coverage was needed. This 1902 author recommended a “veranda tea,” which sounds very like a screened version of the tea-garden above.

The garden party has never flourished in this country. It has a vogue, perhaps, for a season in some district where mosquitoes and gnats are not troublesome and where the trees are guaranteed not to drop squirming caterpillars on the heads or into the beverages or ices of the ladies. Besides, the weather man is an unreliable individual, and his firmest assurance that the neighborhood may anticipate nothing but cerulean skies and balmy breezes for at least a week may be sadly belied by the tornado that springs up as if from nowhere. A garden party that opens to the singing of birds and the smile of the sun may end to the accompaniment of thunder and the cold, steady beat of the drenching rain. Then too, garden parties are hard on the delicate complexions of American women. English women are indifferent to tan, but the American hates to think that above her fairylike frock she displays the face of a broiled lobster.

Now, the veranda tea has none of these disadvantages. In the shade of that roofed retreat there is no menace to the complexion, and one may wear her prettiest white gown or most fascinating organdie. Disturbing insects cannot penetrate behind the screens, and the war of the elements without can introduce no disturbing effect.

The Topeka [KS] State Journal 5 July 1902: p. 14

The “back-yard” party, was also in vogue, for the budget-conscious young:

SUMMER BACK YARD PARTIES

Young Women Who Cannot Afford Trip to Seashore Inaugurate Novel Means of Amusement.

Any kind of outdoor entertainment is preferable in summer to staying in the house, so, for that reason, several young women who cannot go to the seashore or mountains for the “heated term” have inaugurated what they call “back-yard parties” in the spaces in the rear of their homes. These have been made attractive enough to warrant asking their friends to spend the evening there.

At one house in town in particular, the yard has been turned into a really lovely garden. Ivy and other climbing plants have been planted along the fences and now completely cover them. The center is a grass plot, and around is a border of gay blooming geraniums and other hardy flowers. Benches, garden chairs and tables are placed here and there. A low cot bed, with rug and cushions, forms a divan. At night, with Japanese lanterns strung across and little lamps hung among the ivy, the effect is surprisingly pretty.

The daughter of the house finds her friends more than ready to accept her invitations, and the open air entertainment is thoroughly enjoyed. Sometimes they play games, or they have music of banjo or mandolin, and sing college songs. [One wonders if the neighbours were pleased with the repertoire.] The men, of course, have permission to smoke, and the cold lemonade, ices and cakes are especially delicious served under these unusual and Informal conditions. Try it; it is well worth the trouble.

Natrona County Tribune [Casper WY] 20 October 1909: p. 6

Of course, there were always guests who did not quite grasp the concept:

“Do you know Mr. Fresco—Mr. Albert Fresco?” inquired Mrs. Nuritch.

“No,” said her husband, “Why?”

“I’ve got an invite to Mrs. Blugore’s garden party, and she says they’re going to dine Al Fresco.”

The Evening World [New York NY] 30 January 1903: p. 12

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Floral Sunshades: 1884

 

flower bedecked parasols 1895

Floral Sunshades.

Floral sunshades are, as we learn the latest innovation in flower fashion just now in Nice, where the ladies are using parasols composed entirely of natural flowers, so that their sunshades resemble nothing so much as gigantic bouquets stuck on sticks. The stalks of the flowers are woven together, so as to form a network of bloom, the inside being lined with silk. One parasol is made entirely of violets, with a bordering of jessamine; another of geraniums, white and red in rows, fringed with maiden-hair fern; another of pansies, and so on. When the flowers fade the parasol has to be made up again, generally at intervals of two days. We always thought our New York friends a little extravagant in their flower torture, nor could any one persuade us to admire the great massive crosses, anchors, wreaths and wedding- bells affected by some portions of American society: but even there they do not, I believe, expose their beautiful flowers on sunshades to wither and die. I hope that it is only some ladies, and those only a few, that degrade nature’s flower gifts in this way. A friend to whom I showed the above paragraph said she should as soon think of skewering a living dove or a lark in her bonnet as of abusing lovely flowers wholesale in the manner that I have just indicated.

The Clay Center [KS] Dispatch 31 July 1884: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Hall Head-Gardener, Mr McKew, would have a word or two to say about the fashionable abuse of flowers. It pains his soul to supply even cut flowers for the table and he would, no doubt, call the floral parasol a shocking waste and a sin against floriculture .

Still, the showiness and ephemeral quality of the floral parasol made it a popular fad:

FLOWER BEDECKED PARASOLS.

The coming season’s sunshades are bewildering in floral effects. One is of violet-colored chiffon, with wreath and nosegays of artificial violets. Big bows of violet ribbon ornament its stick at top and handle, and the graceful ruffle around its edge is gay with silver spangles. A nosegay of violets nestles in the knot of the ribbon on the handle and the whole is delicately scented with violet sachet.

Another new floral parasol, although more severe in style, is even more chic. It is trimmed with orchids, one huge cluster hanging from the bow at the top and a smaller one at the handle. The sunshade itself is of heavy cream-tinted silk, with mother-of-pearl handle. All the parasols this year are noticeable for their elegance and showiness. Every detail is most costly, and, in many instances, most

Perishable, as the fluffy and flowery effects so greatly in vogue are not meant for wear and tear. The good old-fashioned plain parasol, lasting a whole season through, is completely obliterated by this crowd of fragile and efflorescent novelties.

The Abbeville [SC] Press and Banner 3 April 1895: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil does not see the appeal in the floral novelty, although there will always be those who will follow a fad merely for the extravagance of the thing. The floral parasol lacks the tidiness one likes to see in fashion accessories. This fashion writer made a very apt comparison:

Some of the floral parasols have a peculiar effect when carried closed. These look as if the owner had been cutting for herself a large posy and fixed it on a stick, in the style of a May day posy of long ago. The impression is still further carried out when a florally trimmed hat to match is worn—as is often the case. The Ottawa [IL] Free Trader 4 August 1888: p. 7

The floral parasol did, however, finally find its niche as a wedding decoration.

floral parasol wedding decoration

A Rose Parasol Instead of the Usual Bridal Bell.

June with its roses affords many tempting opportunities to the floral decorator. For weddings—and June is the favorite month for weddings—no prettier idea could be devised than that of substituting for the hackneyed wedding bell a floral parasol under which the bride and bridegroom may stand during the ceremony or at the reception. The roses and smilax are mounted on a skeleton parasol frame. Pink or white roses are suitable, the garden rose or the hothouse variety being adapted to the purpose.

The Richmond [IN] Palladium and Sun-Telegram 27 July 1911: p. 8

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Flowers for Aristocratic Tables: 1889

The-End-Of-Dinner-by-Jules-Alexandre-Grun-770x506 Edwardian dinner party.jpg

FLOWERS FOR THE TABLE.

Costly Decorations Affected by the Aristocracy.

Nell Nelson’s Chat with the Lending Floral Firms.

“You newspaper women,” said the monarch of the Elliott Floral Company, “make us a lot of trouble with your extravagant pens and superlative adjectives. You write Mrs. A.’s $50 order away up, and when Mrs. B. comes in with the article and wants us to beat it for $500 we are nonplussed, for the description calls for $1,500 worth of flowers.

“Half the trouble in this world comes from distorted facts and the other half is the result of bad cooking. The dream of Bellamy will never be realized until truth becomes chronic and the product of the kitchen digestible.

“There is no leading style in flowers or floral decorations, and no standard but that of individual taste. People pick their plants and cut flowers as they do their clothes and furniture ”

“The moneyed people like roses and orchids; the artists love palms and ferns, and many women would rather have a bunch of mignonette than a basket of voluptuous Beauty roses–those crimson, living, almost human things that intoxicate the senses. “Just now we are in a blaze of beauty, a cloud of glory, a heaven of perfume, and you have only to choose and I’ll send you anything you want.

“Here is the ‘Magna Charta,’ the rival of the American Beauty; both the same price–$15 a dozen.

“Here’s white lilac–the poet’s own flower and smell–now close your eyes! Can’t you feel Spring in your heart? My aesthetic soul, but it’s good!

“How much? Six dollars a bunch and six sprays in a bunch. Rolled up in paraffine paper and boxed in cotton batting, 1 don’t know a nicer bit of fragrance for a New Year’s offering. Do you?”

I said I didn’t.

“You see, the man or the woman who sends a flower to a friend wraps himself eternally in its perfume and wherever the breath of that blossom is caught, up he comes in face and form and voice, or the woman has no soul—that’s all.

“I once had the measles when I was in aprons,” the horticulturalist confided to me; “and while I was sick a little girl sent me an apple to smell, but not to eat.

” I can smell that rosy piece of fruit now, and I never pass a greening or a russet or a pippin that I do not see the wee maiden in fancy and bless her dear little heart. That’s the sentiment of it, but here’s the business.

“Flowers are abundant, but the demand amounts to a real tax, and prices are high as ambition.

“We never mix flowers. We don’t believe in it. There is as much individuality about blossoms as there is about belles, and so we arrange them, not in tulle and pearls, but in the very severest of vases, so as not to let the holder detract from the bouquet.

“We are daring enough, too, to put pearl roses in pearl cups, golden tulips in primrose-yellow bowls, and crimson roses in ruby forms–a privilege we have been encouraged to take with chromatics, by the audacity of Alma Tadema, Whistler and Burne Jones.

“We never build a table piece as high as the line of vision, and not even a child’s view across a dinner-table is obstructed. Orchids, roses, tightly bound hyacinths, spicy carnations, sweet-scented tulips and the dainty ma capucine buds, which are salmon-like in color, are all in demand for table decoration, and an art committee would be puzzled to tell which is choicest.

“About the biggest order we have filled this year came from the Union League Club fellows the night they entertained the Pan-American Society.

“There were flowers everywhere but under foot and in the air. We hung the little theatre with foliage tapestry, banked the stage with the glossiest and greenest of palms, and fringed the footlights with asparagus and mosses, that caressed a ridge of growing orchids.

“In the library there are six large tables niched between bookcases, and we piled the files and folios under the boards and on zinc covers planted the choicest flowers that the state afforded.

“One table was a solid bed of cut orchids, fringed with ferns, that cost us $600 to spread; another oblong had nothing but American Beauties for a cushion, and each rose was worth $1.75 that night; another was upholstered with pink, white and damask cyclamen, and roses, violets and carnations embossed the remaining boards. “The bookcases in the room are all low, and we used them for a bank of encircling palms, at the feet of which we planted wired and fantastic orchids that seemed almost human in the pale candle-light. “The supper was served in a suit of three rooms, and each board had a different flower piece. One was a massive rose cluster, the second was a rose piece with a streak of white narcissus running through it, and I can’t remember the other.

“At the Delmonico banquet, prepared for the same tourists, we put Summer on the table and festooned the balconies with her garlands and hanging plants, and pendent from the celling we hung a great globe of laurel, orange, lemon verbena and sweet-brier, with Central America picked out in true geographic position with closely stemmed cluster flowers. At this point a Van Rensselaer came in, and in a low rich contralto voice, with a pronounced English accent, asked for white violets, and I fled.

Dunder, who grows the roses that belong in the bowers of the Four Hundred, sighed when asked to name the ideal table decorations. “The best way to answer that is to show you my book. Here’s an order for to-night. The lady gives a dinner party for which she will use a solid gold service.

“There is a towering epergne to go in the centre of the table, and in it I will put orchids of delicate lavender and pure white, with the queen of ferns for relief.

“Strings of asparagus will be trailed along the cloth and carried up to the arms of the candelabra.

“Mrs. W. D. Sloane’s dinner tables are always decorated with American Beauties. That’s her favorite flower. Saturday night I sent her a flat basket, six feet in diameter, planted with those roses. The cluster was as big as a rose bush.

“Over the white cloth we scattered sprays, three feet long, with blossoms as large as cauliflowers and turned them so that the gorgeous flower threw the splendor of their color and perfume in the very faces of the guest.

“The prettiest novelty for a table was, in my mind, an order we filled for one of the white dinners for which Mrs. William Baylis is famous. With her while porcelain and satin polished silver, we used Puritan roses, the finest white flower cultivated.

“In the corners of the mahogany were small English egg-baskets of split willow, filled with lilies of the valley, and about the cloth were mats of mistletoe, heavy with their opaque berries. Those egg baskets are very fetchy. They are rude, you see, and have the appearance, when filled, of being just sent in by some friend.  “Pertinent to the season are the scarlet baskets, which we have sold by the thousand. Some we fill with English holly, some with crimson tulips, others with point sette leaves and a few with carnations and mistletoe.”

A call came over the telephone from no less a personage than Mr. Ward McAllister, and I was alone.

From a good-natured belle who has been in social circulation for several decades I learned that each leader has a flower to which she is as devoted as she is to a special perfume or grade of linen.

Mrs. W. W. Astor uses American Beauties at all her dinners. So does Mrs. Frederick Vanderbilt. Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt prefers Gloria de Paris roses; Mrs. Elliott F. Shepard considers the La France the queen of roses; Mrs. Orme Wilson cheerfully pays $2 apiece for Magna Charta roses, and has from twenty to seventy on her table at a time.

Mrs. Ex-Secretary Whitney has a weakness for white and gold, and pearls. Puritans, Nun Hoste and Gabriel Luizet alternate in her dining parlor, while Mrs. Paran Stevens delights in Spring flowers and buys tulips, narcissi, daisies, May bells and hyacinths by the hamper.

The regulation flower for the bridal board is the Amazon lily, a peerless cup-shaped blossom that seems pouring its soul out in floods of perfume.

This lily is new, and like all rare things costly. For the price of a bowlful of Amazons you might have Dickens in calf, a Persian wool bath robe or roast young goose every day for a whole week, with a peck of apple sauce besides. Nell Nelson.

The Evening World [New York NY] 30 December 1889: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Fashions in flowers were followed as avidly as the latest modes from Paris. Mrs Daffodil has written about A Violet Luncheon, Flowers a Bride Should Carry, Modern Valentine Flowers, The Black Rose, and The Wild-Flower Wedding.

This Parisienne instructed her guests to arrange DIY centrepieces for a prize–a novelty both indolent and presumptuous, one feels. One can practically hear the waspish, postprandial comments from the departing guests.

Something new in table decoration is the creation of a Paris society woman. At a dinner given recently the guests were surprised to find the centre of the table piled high with a mass of cut flowers, including many varieties of roses, lilies of the valley, chrysanthemums, carnations, violets, ferns, smilax, etc. At each plate were placed three red, white and blue vases made of bohemian glass, each in a solid colour. Upon a raised tabourette in the centre of the table was a huge cut glass rose bowl which the hostess announced was to be given to the guest arranging the flowers in his or her three vases most artistically. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 10 November 1899: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil has made an annual ritual of sharing Saki’s “The Occasional Garden” in advance of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, opening this coming week.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

La Fête du Muguet: 1912

faberge lily of the valley

A spray of lily of the valley in pearl, nephrite and diamonds, c. 1900, by Faberge. http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21517/lot/93/

[In Paris] the palm of popularity must be given to the lily of the valley—the muguet des bois.

What the forget-me-not is to the German Gretchen, the muguet des bois (the wild lily of the valley) is to the Paris grisette, and thus it has been for untold generations. The first of May is known as the Fête du Muguet, and on that day, not only is it traditional for children to make presents of bunches of wild lilies of the valley to their elder brothers and sisters—the flower seems to be dedicated to youth—but in the streets surrounding the opera-house, where all the big dressmakers are, you will see at luncheon-hour troops of the young girl apprentices wearing bunches of muguet in their simple bodices. The muguet brings luck, and it appeals more than any other flower to the humble little Parisienne’s sense of poetry, this delicate spike with its double row of little milk-white bells, its broad tapering leaf, and its peculiarly evocative scent. No doubt she feels that in a sense it reflects herself. Is not her life just such another ringing of the changes on a chime of little silver bells, whose flash and tinkle last for the brief space of a spring season? She has the same native wildness, and simple unconscious elegance. To start forth on a bright Sunday morning for one of the woods near Paris, and pick muguet, is her ideal of a holiday excursion.

“En cherchant du muguet,
Du muguet dans la clairière;
En cherchant du muguet,
Du muguet d-a-ans l-a-a f-ô-r-e-t!”

[In search of the lily of the valley,

the lily in the clearing,

in search of the lily of the valley,

the lily of the valley in the forest!]

she sings, and on her way back she pets her lilies of the valley as if they were human beings: “Oh, the beautiful muguet, how sweetly it smells!” Elaborate are her plans for disposing of it. One large bouquet will remain in her room for at least a week, reminding her every moment of the delightful day she has spent. A few sprays will be given to the concierge, or janitor, whose good graces are to be cultivated; while the remainder will go to grand maman, who will not fail to be tearfully reminded thereby of her own sylvan excursions in search of muguet in those far-off days when there were hardly any railways, and it was half a day’s journey to the woods at Meudon.

According to the herbalists, the petals of the lily of the valley contain a toxic substance, which, like digitalis, has a directly stimulating effect upon the heart. Perhaps this may account, by some subtle process of sentimental telepathy or suggestion, for the charm which the muguet so potently exercises over the heart of those essentially Parisian little beings, all made up of nerves, gaiety, and emotions, the midinette of the dress-making atelier, and the grisette of the Latin Quarter. The street-cry, “Fleurissez-vous, mesdames: voila le muguet!” (Beflower yourselves, ladies: behold the lily of the valley!), followed by, “Du muguet! Achetez du muguet! Du bon muguet parfume!” (Lilies of the valley! Buy the lilies of the valley! Fine scented lilies of the valley!), is one of the oldest in Paris. The muguet harvest is as much a godsend to the pariahs of the Paris pavement as is the hop-picking in Kent to the submerged tenth of the London East End. The May morning has hardly dawned before a procession of ragged, footsore tramps comes streaming into the city from the neighbouring woods, loaded with muguet. On May Day waggon-loads of muguet arrive by train. The flowers are picked when they are still in the earliest bud, for the little Parisian lady likes to see them open out under her own eyes, and so have the illusion that their lives are linked with hers. In some of the great forests round Paris it is forbidden to pick the muguet on pain of a fine; for the pheasants are laying at this season, and to steal the eggs on the pretence of looking for lilies of the valley is a common trick with the villagers.

 Sensations of Paris, Rowland Strong, 1912: pp. 233-236

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: To-day is May Day and instead of the cliches about May Queens and the famously bad weather of the holiday, Mrs Daffodil thought she would post instead about the French holiday of La Fête du Muguet, the feast of the lily of the valley. This is said to have had its origins with the Valois King Charles IX when he was presented with a bunch of lilies in 1561 as a porte-bonheur. Charmed, he began giving the ladies of the court lilies on 1 May.  Mrs Daffodil suggests that lilies of the valley brought  the King himself scant luck: his reign was marred by the French Wars of Religion and the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

 

In the language of flowers, lilies of the valley mean love, luck, and the return of happiness. They are a favourite of Royal brides: Queen Victoria, Grace Kelly and Catherine Middleton all carried bouquets of lily of the valley.

Despite its name, the lily of the valley is actually a member of the Asparagaceae family. However, you would not dare to enjoy the flower, blanched, with hollandaise sauce. Lilies of the valley are extraordinarily toxic if ingested. This fact may explain the curious Devonshire superstition that it is unlucky to plant a bed of lilies of the valley; the person doing so is likely to die within the next twelve months.

Mrs Daffodil wishes her readers a very happy and clement May Day.

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.