How to Make a Buttonhole Bouquet – Sunday Series

Flowers for Buttonhole Bouquets

Flowers for Buttonhole Bouquets © 2012 Bo Mackison

We visited Old World Wisconsin, a Wisconsin State Historical Site, during Laura Ingalls Wilder Days, August 4-5, 2012. We didn’t know about the special event, so we were pleasantly surprised to see all the hands-on activities at the different villages. When we arrived at the Koepsell Farm, in Yankee Village, a young farm couple (museum docents) were making tiny bouquets for anyone who wanted one to wear.

It was a rather celebratory crowd, since the weather was cooperative. It was a perfect walk-around kind of day.

Buttonhole Bouquets, Written Instructions c. 1870s

Making Buttonhole Bouquets © 2012 Bo Mackison

We stepped up to the table to pick out the flowers for my mini bouquet.

Each bouquet had three flowers, plus a bit of green foliage, fastened together in a foil wrap. The docent said the folks at Old World Wisconsin were following instructions from a womens’ publication dated from the 1870s, the oldest reference they’d found for making buttonhole bouquets.

I picked a peach colored rose, a purple zinnia and a yellow dahlia for my bouquet, plus a bit of greenery whose name I can’t remember. There were huge metal pails filled with flowers and greenery. What fun to choose from the many flowers and foliage!

Buttonhole Bouquets, Written Instructions c. 1870s

Wrapping Flowers into a Bouquet ©2012 Bo Mackison

Once I’d picked the items for my bouquet, the young woman cut the stems to arrange the flowers, then arranged the placed the foliage behind the flowers. She put a dab of wet moss in a square of paper, tucked in the bottom, and then rolled the paper around the stems. A large pin held everything in place.


A Lovely Woman and Entertaining Docent - Wearing a Buttonhole Bouquet

Docent with her Buttonhole Bouquet © 2012 Bo Mackison

One of the docents kindly gave me permission to take a quick portrait of her, wearing one of the buttonhole bouquets. She was taking a short break and she needed one! Her role that day was to rake the hay in a field into a large pile so the adventurous children could climb the hay pile and jump in the hay. The kids loved the activity, and she was enjoying herself, too.

Buttonhole Bouquet

My Buttonhole Bouquet © 2012 Bo Mackison

Here is a photo of my bouquet, propped on a wooden bench. What a fun and easy idea. And my bouquet stayed fresh until the next day. The moistened  moss provided enough moisture to keep the flowers in good spirits! And it was fun to walk through the outdoor museum, and see what flowers the many women and girls chose for their buttonhole bouquets. Great variety!


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Each Sunday she posts a group of photographs on a theme – the Sunday Series.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Sweet series Bo.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Frida. My Sunday Series are different from the rest of my posts, but I go so many places, thought this might be a way to share a little…

  2. Looks wonderful and sounds like you had a great day.

  3. Joanne Keevers says:

    What a lovely idea, and I love those old fashioned clothes too. 🙂

  4. Love love!

  5. Wow. What a fun thing to do, and such a pretty bouquet. Looks like … a geranium of some sort, the greenery. The colors you chose are bright and happy, just like your post! XO

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I found the activity quite a peaceful bit of construction — felt like I was experiencing one of the more pleasurable parts of living in the 1800s.

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