On her blog, medievalbeadwork, Roxelana Bramante (Jonalee A. Crabb) shares her research regarding the origins of medieval beaded flowers.
From the Origins of Beaded Flowers
But why beadwork? Because a bead really isnt much good without beadwork. I have a favorite of course. Beaded flowers. Flowers so real that the first instinct after picking one up is to draw it near to smell its scent, to inhale its aroma. But unless the flower has been sprayed with perfume, there will be no scent, no aroma whatsoever. Did people with little piles of beads many centuries ago take those beads and fashion them into flowers? Without a doubt they did. In England during the mid seventeenth century they did and many survive to prove it. But before that time the evidence is sketchy at best.