Are you the kind of person who picks up a bunch of flowers from the supermarket then plonks them in a vase and if so, have you ever wished you could be a little more creative with those beautiful blooms and really do them justice? It’s not as hard as you might think.
Rule one of flower arranging is, do not have your stems all the same length. Some of the most artful arrangements do look like they have been ‘plonked’ but careful attention has nevertheless been given to the length of stems and positions of blooms (usually in groups of threes or fives rather than totally random). Think about the shape you are creating and, importantly, how it relates to the chosen vase. Imagine a tall vase with a few daffodil heads peeping over the top – not a good look; try to get the arrangement in proportion with the container. The best arrangements are those in which vase and flowers work together; imagine a tall, thin vase, weighty at the bottom, holding two or three tall stems of Longiflorum lilies and a ‘fountain’ of tall grass.
Foliage is important too and greenery, either purchased or collected from the garden, can add body to an arrangement, acting as a foil to the flowers and helping to support them in position. Big leaves, such as Phormium, Hosta and Aspidistra, are all sought after by flower arrangers for adding drama, whilst small leaves such as Hebe and types of conifer, have a softer effect. Long grasses are particularly useful, either adding height or trailing down and even coiled round inside the vase to hide flower stems.
More formal and precise arrangements require the use of blocks of ‘floral foam’ which holds water and supports flower and foliage stems in exactly the position you choose to place them. This opens up too, a host of possibilities for different containers to hold your arrangement. A ‘frog’ (with four little spikes) and a little florist’s tape will hold your florist’s foam in place in a shallow bowl, on a pedestal, even attached to a piece of driftwood. A conventional vase is no longer needed to support your flower stems, they are pushed into and held in place by the wet foam.
Florists talk about ‘triangular’, ‘continental’, ‘dome’ and ‘S-shaped’ arrangements – perhaps its best to leave them to the professionals, here’s a final image for you, 12 red roses with an elastic band halfway down the stems to keep them loosely bunched, just clearing the mouth of an elegant globe vase – sometimes the simplest treatments are the best!