Floral design and flower arts have an impressively wide appeal. Whether it's making small crafts from your best backyard blooms or a stunning display in a botanical garden or parade float, the combinations of color, species, and creativity seem endless.

National Floral Design Day, celebrated on February 28 each year, honors the art, beauty, and grace of floral arrangements and those involved in this multibillion-dollar industry. The holiday was established by Massachusetts governor William F. Weld in 1995, as a unique celebratory day of the floral arts. The specific date honors Carl Rittner, a pioneer in floral arts and the founder of the Rittners School of Floral Design in Boston back in 1947.


Pink Flowers in a Sunny Boston Garden

The roots of floral design reach deep into history all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. Paintings or etchings in tombs reveal bouquets made of lotus blossoms and buds, flowers sacred to the Egyptians. Garlands, wreaths, and other arrangements have been found encased with mummies or depicted in tomb paintings.

Floral Design Day arose to honor the birthday of Carl Rittner Born February 28, 1914 in Boston, Rittner attended Boston University where he received his Master’s Degree in Education. He was an active instructor and managed the school. Rittner an educator and pioneer in floral arts education, passed away in 1999, just a few weeks shy of his 85th birthday. The school is still in operation and continues to educate floral designers and others interested in the floral arts.

Today, the floral design industry includes floral arrangements for special events, bouquets for weddings and holidays, or inspiration for painting or photography. On a broader scope, a collection of garden flowers to brighten the home would also be aligned with this concept.

The proclamation for Floral Design Day states that “Whereas through floral design, individuals are able to express many emotions including love, sympathy, friendship and hope, and whereas floral design provides visual pleasure and adds to the observance of personal events, including birth, marriages and deaths and whereas floral design fosters creativity, enhances communication and develops perceptual awareness.” Though started in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Floral Design Day is now celebrated throughout the country.

Celebrate Floral Design Day

Celebrating this special day may take many forms. The obvious one is to purchase an arrangement for a loved one from your local florist. Though perhaps not as well-known as a special day such as Valentine’s Day, Floral Design Day may be on par with Secretary Appreciation Day, also known as Administrative Professionals Day, as a special day to celebrate with a floral arrangement. Another option would be to create your own arrangement.

Though this special day is early in the season for most gardens to have flowers, a local florist shop would be able to provide fresh ones. Recipients could be anyone: family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Creating an arrangement takes a little planning and creativity.

In addition to the use of cut flowers or living plants, designers may also incorporate other objects into their creation. Branches of willow, birch, or other colorful shrubs such as serviceberry may provide a unique perspective and give the arrangement a different feeling. Bamboo sections, strap-like leaves, and berry-laded twigs, to name a few, also could be included on the potential list of organic objects to be incorporated into a design. The list is limitless and may offer a nice contrast to the flowers incorporated into an arrangement. Creativity is the operative word.

The Bloom Project

Hands forming flower arrangements

In Oregon, one non-profit has embraced the spirit of Floral Design Day year-round. A volunteer organization, the Bloom Project collects vases and flowers from shops, funeral homes, wedding sites, and other locations or events and repurposes the flowers into fresh bouquets that are delivered to hospice and palliative care patients through hospice staff or volunteers.

Volunteers for The Bloom Project select the freshest flowers that would otherwise be thrown into a landfill or composted for their arrangements. Flowers that are past their prime are discarded and vases are reused. Over 200,000 bouquets have been delivered since the organization started in 2009. Property and business owners also donate space and transportation for delivery of the flowers, helping to keep down costs so the organization can “do good” with these resources.

So when February 28 rolls around this week, add a new holiday to your calendar and tap into the floral arts to bring someone an appreciation and expression of your love.