Last week at falls flowers, Peicha gave me the go-ahead to design some mini arrangements for a baby shower. The baby on the way is a boy! So mom opted for all blues and yellows. I had a blast doing these! I used a huge variety of material including but not limited to: muscari, acacia, freesia, fritillaria, delphinium, seeded eucalyptus, cineraria, scabiosa seedpods, and dusty miller.
It was so fun working on such a small scale, I hope I get to do something like this again.
There was overlap with Advanced and Basic this past week. But this was the last Basic class, boo hoo! I never wanted it to end. In today’s class we reviewed the principles and elements of design, and then did 2 arrangements. The first was a simple market bouquet in glass, taken apart and re-designed with added greens and a few extra flowers. I think we’ve all had experience with this- you bring home a bouquet from the grocery store and you can’t just stick it into a vase “as-is.” You need to break all the stems into groups and analyze what you have. Often the bouquet from the market has the different flowers placed in a very regular pattern all around – but maybe you’d like it better and there would be more impact if some of the flowers were grouped together. This was quick and easy but important as it was our first design in glass with water – no Oasis! So how will the stems stay in place? We had a few options for the mechanics – the first was to create a grid out of clear tape, creating 1″ holes on a dry vase and running tape all around the rim once finished.
The second, and the one I went for as it would create interest in the lower half of the arrangement, was the branch structure with willow. Wrap a stem of curly willow around your hand and smush it into the glass, adding a few big stems in a criss cross pattern for more support, and 2-4 more wrapped stems as needed. You could use any other flexible stems for this, like red stemmed dogwood for example. Just make sure they’re pretty bendy.
Personally I know I will use this method again, it was really easy to work with – the stems stayed put – and I really liked the way it looked especially after you put water into the design. Of course there are many other ways to support stems in water – by using kenzans/frogs/pin holders, or using foliage or large flowers at the base to keep other flowers stable.
Next up, the one flower/one foliage stem design in glass. We were given a glass cylinder vase and a quick demo from instructor Jane on some unique things you can do to various foliage stems to create drama. Here she’s wired Equisetum to get it to conform to the shape she wants – a long rectangle – that will contain the single lily flower like a frame. She’s also revealed a very important trick of the trade – called U-Glu dashes which are tiny dots of clear tacky glue that can help stems stay put and so much more.
In a flower show competition, none of the mechanics should be visible unless they are purposefully part of the design, like using bind wire repetitively around a wrapped stem. As she’s doing her demo, I already have an idea for what I want to do, using Phormium or Flax, and one single Anthurium. And because the practice of sketching has been pressed into my brain from the Advanced class, I do a quick sketch of a possible arrangement.
Of course, once you start working with the plant material, it might tell you it wants to do something else, which it did in my design. First I wound the phormium leaf in a spiral around my hand, and sunk it into the container. I fussed with the spacing and at the top used a bit of U-Glu to adhere it to the vase. Then, I tried wiring the anthurium because I wanted to to be taller and I wanted to play with it’s form, but that was harder than it looked and I couldn’t get the wire all the way up the stem, so to disguise the wire sticking out at the bottom, I wrapped another phormium leaf around the stem and then bound the whole thing with bind wire in a hopefully decorative way.
What was so amazing about this class was again the hugely varied results given that we all had similar material to work with, and all the same vase. Jane gave us big kudos and we all felt very good about ourselves!
I will miss all the great students of this class! Hope to see you in Basic II in the fall. And thanks, Jane, for getting me hooked on Floral Design.
I was on the waiting list for this class, and at the last minute I got in! It’s a Saturday class that meets from 9-4, an all day affair, and was actually a bit intense, because we squeeze two classes into one day. The teacher is the same as my Basic class, Jane Godshalk, thankfully, but there were only a few students that I recognized. The rest seemed to be on some other plane of advanced floral design! I felt as if I were coming from the minor leagues to the big time, looking around at all the creative touches I never would have thought of going on around me. Jane kept saying, “you’re in Advanced now, people…”
We started by discussing Linear Qualities in Design. Line can be static or dynamic; there are both primary and secondary lines. Here are some of the many line types:
In a Linear Design the line is dominant – the negative space powerful. The lines can become a geometric form – circle, square, triangle and every combination of those forms.
There are a few really important ideas to consider when conceiving of a design plan: the vertical axis, which may be visible or invisible in the design; the binding point (the central binding point) and the point of emergence (the point from which lines of a design begin, also usually the binding point. confusing.)
Also, consider the focal point or focal area – this is the area of greatest impact in a design – to which the eye is naturally drawn. It’s usually close to the binding point. There are many ways to achieve focal interest:
- Color – darker flowers have more visual weight than lighter colors
- Size – larger, more open blooms have more visual weight
- Shape and Pattern – form flowers have greater interest
- Spacing – closer spacing makes flower appear heavier
- Texture – contrasting textures create visual interest – Shiny foliage is focal
- Line Direction – radiating lines attract interest to center of design
Here are some basic flower arrangement designs. This gets you thinking that there’s no end to what you could do!
This morning we do two linear designs. Jane recommends really planning out your design – choosing your style (decorative, vegetative, form+ line, abstract,) choosing the dominant element, flower forms, color palette, and planning your vertical axis. Make a sketch before you begin! The first design we do will have a visible axis and will incorporate some techniques from Basic like pave and terracing.
Moving on, we are to create Design 2 – a Linear design with an invisible/imaginary axis. We have a nice white Ikea vase to play with. Again, we make a sketch and plan all the elements: dominant element, flower forms, palette, and where is the imaginary vertical axis. All I know is, I’m using those Bells of Ireland (I will have to wire them to make them the shape I want) and green mums, and my imaginary axis will be in the center. I want to do something curvy.
After lunch break, it’s time to tackle the Phoenix Design, for which we’ve brought containers from home. I was lent a beautiful silver Revere bowl by Juliet. The Phoenix Design, interestingly, is the only design we’ll be learning that is attributed to American designers. And yes, it is inspired by the mythological bird that cyclically sets itself on fire and rises from it’s own ashes to begin another long life. So the design is all about renewal and rebirth.
The Phoenix design is a composition in which tall materials burst from the center of a round arrangement in a radial fashion with a triangular shape.
Our mechanics for this arrangement, which is great for big parties, begin with a block of soaked Grande oasis put into a liner and then into the container. Others had varying shaped containers and needed to secure the foam with chicken wire and tape – mine was steady so I didn’t need to do that. Start by grouping various foliage at the base, leaving a hole in the center for the fireworks. Remember the base is to be a round shape. We used Ruscus, Ming Fern, and Apidistra leaf (Jane’s fave,) which she showed us how to bend in on itself, and poke the stem through the leaf to create a bulkier shape. Then put in your line flowers, in this case Gladiolas, using radial lines. These tall line flowers should create an upside down triangle from all sides (easier said than done!)
We did create a sketch first but I think you get the picture here. After a mad rush to get our flowers, we spend an hour or so making this one. The person next to me seems to require a lot of space so I move to the counter space behind me – it’s really hard to see your line and form with so much happening visually in the room. After putting in the line flowers, we fill in the rounded form at the base with roses, alstromeria, carnation, waxflower, etc. I end up using more roses instead of carnations, because there are some left over. In these classes, you try to play by the rules regarding how much plant material you’re allowed, but if you pay attention you can often grab some extras after everyone has taken what they need.
In choosing the colors, I started with the green glads and wanted pink roses to complement them, especially because the intended location for this guy was June’s house (June is 2) and her favorite color is pink. I accidentally cut my glads too short and ended up putting a bunch of myrtle in to compensate – which during our evaluation in front of class, Jane took out, leaving just the curly willow. I’m glad she did this, I think in Basic she doesn’t critique our designs quite as much but how are you going to learn, right? Anyway, this design is very big and didn’t end up fitting at the intended location! So it’s up at the ‘big house’ lasting quite well though because of it’s size it’s a bit thirstier than other arrangements I’ve made.
After a long day in Advanced I’m pretty fried- in a good way. I made it!
Back in January, I came across the magnificient Paper Bush in bud on the grounds of the Scott Arboretum, blogged here. Back then it was hung with delicious metallic furry fairy-attracting buds.
I took a walk the other day and was hit by the scent first – a clean sweet just utterly delicious smell that transported me to a magical kingdom where everyone has good intentions. Then I saw the blooms – BOOM – they are huge and almost Seussian!
This member of the Daphne family is high on my list of must-have shrubs!
Back in February, my parents said they’d let me turn a patch of earth at their house into a garden of my own(ish). Turns out they weren’t kidding after all, and made good on the promise. At the end of February, I did some soil excavation to test the tilth and drainage of the area.
Satisfied enough to try this garden experiment, I roped off two 4′ x 13′ beds in a mostly full sun spot by the garage with all the best intentions.
My dad and I started the sod removal/soil amendment at the end of February, deciding just to see what the work was like between the two of us for one bed. One bed at a time. I have a bad back, and he’s 72. (That’s never stopped us from doing stupid things, though.)
While I’m not looking, Dad (and Larry) double-dig much of the bed, despite my wishes to wait to do that until we had the soil amendment materials. There is no stopping him! He is a machine! We get into a heated discussion that’s not really about the garden at all, but more about my current life situation (I call it a ‘pickle’) and the fact that I can’t do this all myself because of my back. He lets me yell at him for a while until I realize I am not treating my only laborer with the kindness he deserves. Many apologies and a few tears later…we both agree that gardening brings out the best in me!
Ok, now we got the goods: Bumper Crop, the new and improved organic soil builder we purchased from Mostardi’s Nursery. It contains Sphagnum Peat Moss, Peat Humus, Worm Castings, Kelp Meal, Dolomitic Lime, Composted cow manure, Lobster and Crab Shells (wait, I’m getting hungry) Aged Bark, dehydrated Poultry manure, and both endo and ectomycorrhizae. This soil needs all the help it can get!
We let the bed sit, and carefully watch as rains come, sun shines, and bunnies hop. All looks good. I go back to Boston to see my husband. I come back. Then the temps warm up. I decide that in my current situation (living a few different places) it might be best not to have two garden beds to maintain, so it will be one for now. I also decide to get the ball rolling and add some more of the black stuff since we aren’t using it for the other bed. And do some fine raking to break up some remaining clumps. There is a voice in my head saying, “Be careful Ann, this is one of the ways you threw your back out once.” Again, it doesn’t stop me (but now I do my back stretches almost every day to counter the gardening etc.)
And then it’s TIME TO SOW! Here’s everything I planted today…Sweet Peas (Grandiflora mixture,) Hungarian Blue Poppy (Papaver somniferum,) Blue Boy Bachelor’s Button (Centaurea cyanus), White Lace Bishop’s Flower (Ammi majus) and Grandma Einck’s Dill.
Julie and I also bought some more stuff at Mostardi’s – I found some Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ which I really dig for the foliage, although it is blooming now. It will get 2-3′ tall and spread a bit.
The red-stemmed dogwood will hopefully support the sweet peas, and also looks neat while there’s nothing happening. Heck, maybe it will actually root! (Doubtful.) The plan is to see what germinates and perhaps add a few other things like sunflowers, zinnias or stuff I see in nurseries I like. (Not doing the cukes this year because I think my huzz and I should do that project together.) All watered and ready to grow…so think good thoughts for the little garden that could. And happy first day of Spring!
In today’s class we talked about garlands, which were popularized during the Greek and Roman Periods. “Garland: a wreath or festoon of flowers, leaves, or other material, worn for ornament as an honor or hung on something as a decoration.” Personally, I like the idea of festooning long garlands all around the house and wearing a head garland at the same time. In ancient Greece, head garlands (also called chaplets) were made of predominately foliage, and were awarded to honor athletes and heroes as symbols of allegiance and dedication.
During the Roman period, garlands and wreaths were heavy and elaborate with fragrant and colorful blooms. An abundance of lavish flowers was seen as a sign of opulence and wealth. According to our teacher Jane Godshalk, there’s a story of one rich Roman Emperor who had a dinner party with a fragrant surprise: ceiling panels full of roses and other flowers. The idea was to let the canvases fall deliciously over the heads of his guests. But it didn’t go like that – a few of his guests were in fact smothered by his fabulous flowers.
There are a few ways of going about making a garland, and though we weren’t able to cover actually doing them all in this class, we were given a quick demo on how to make a wire garland, using pre-soaked Oasis blocks wrapped in plastic wrap and enclosed in chicken wire. You just stick the materials into that, careful of the dripping. A rope or twine based garland seems easy enough – just wire bundles of flowers/foliage around a stretch of rope or twine, making a loop with the twine on either end to hang it easily. Work from one end to the middle, and then the other end to the middle. These are good for wrapping around pillars or poles, hanging swags on a table, or framing a window or door.
And then there’s the table garland – essentially a wreath formed out of Oasis that you poke your plant materials into. Start with a basing of greens – in this case we used Ruscus, Myrtle, Galax and Seeded Eucalyptus. Place them inside and out of the ring at varying angles.
Then add your main flowers – in this case spray roses and carnations. Group them evenly throughout. I used the seeded Eucalyptus as a filler flower really, but Limonium or I hate to say it Gypsophila also work well as a filler. All of these items except the carnations (these were left over from another class) will dry pretty well and therefore this table garland borders on everlasting.
All of these garlands are quite labor intensive and therefore should be done the day before an event. That goes for head garlands too. In fact, I had just enough time in class to squeeze out a quickie for my niece June.
This was super fun to make and not too hard at all. I measured out a piece of honeysuckle wire (just a wire with a brown wrapping, also comes in green,) making one end into a loop. Then I made small bunches of daisy mums, Bupleurum, and Gypsophila or Baby’s Breath in my hand, which I then wired onto the main wire using bind wire. Many mini bundles later the garland was filled, and I added some white ribbon on.
I really, really liked making the head garland. I love the idea of wearable flowers – this might be a niche for me. And when you put them on you feel like a total princess! (Or Greek goddess!)
At falls flowers this week, I got a lesson in making wrist corsages. There are a few different styles and ways of doing it, but as the request was for almost 40 simple white roses for a sorority gathering, we went with the simplest and fastest method – GLUE. Gluing saves time when you have a bulk order, because the alternative is wiring and taping – a lesson I hope to get one day, too. And this glue is like no other I’ve worked with – Oasis Florist Adhesive. It’s a “fast-drying and waterproof liquid adhesive formulated for use with fresh flowers.” It won’t brown fresh flower petals, and it will hold up in cold storage. In other words, it’s a must-have for all you budding floral designers out there!
In making the wrist corsages, Peicha and I start by using well-hydrated roses, removing their sepals (the small spiky leaves at the base) and then trimming the stem down to near nothingness. Shave the stem down with a knife so it’s as flat as possible. Add a tiny blob of glue to both the bottom of the rose and the Elastic Wrist Corsage Band, making sure to spread the glue evenly. Let the glue set for about 30 seconds and then carefully press the rose onto the band’s flat metal plate. Earlier, we removed the little metal prongs that would normally fold over and enclose a bunch of wired flowers. As with any glue, it’s better not to touch it with your fingers or you’ll be trying to get it off all day – this is especially true with this glue, though scrubbing with Lava soap does get it off pretty well. Also – when working with this glue PLEASE choose a well-ventilated spot and take breaks to venture out into the fresh air or you will get silly like I did.
As far as wrist corsages go, I think there are a lot of possibilities out there on what you could do, and I think they are a great alternative for prom season. Remember your date awkwardly trying to pin a corsage on your chest? This is so much easier. And a wrist corsage doesn’t get in the way during the slow dance! I really think we should all wear flowers a little more often, don’t you?
Today’s lesson was to create a Parallel Design, a design that’s meant to have a calming effect. In a regular decorative design, like the Roundy Moundy, the overall shape is dominant. But in a formal linear design, the forms and lines are dominant. The lines in this design are created by grouped plant material set in a vertical pattern with negative space between each section. The negative or empty spaces allow the eye to travel through the arrangements. We talked about parallel designs with Landscape Designs, but this one is different because we are not mimicking how you’d see plants in nature, and we’re not necessarily combining plants that are seasonally compatible. In other words, let her rip!
We started by filling a low container with Oasis floral foam, shaved to the lip of the container (important for a clean line, clean look.) Nothing much should be hanging over the edges in the parallel design. Jane recommends attaching an Apidistra leaf with greening pins to cover up the foam at this stage, rather than going back and filling in with moss at the end. (Some stems will poke right through the leaf, whereas a hole will have to be made for other, more tender ones.) We’ll be using a lot of basing techniques at the end to conceal the mechanics, but the terracing using Galax leaves is easier to do at the beginning. Terracing is simply placing materials on top of one another, divided by space, like a staircase.
Linear plant material is a must for this design, and we had lots to choose from, like gladiola, liatris, and equisetum. Hold the line flowers/foliage up over the design to see where it looks best, and vary the heights. The idea is to keep the same plant material grouped together for a bigger impact and to keep the lines stronger. They should all be placed in as straight as possible! With lilies in the mix, the only way to go was to keep them low or they took up too much of the space at the top of the design – reserved for negative space.
Depth is created by angling stems, overlapping materials, and the use of color (light colors pop out while darker ones recede.) The lines create negative and positive space.
Next, we did our basing techniques to cover the mechanics and to create color and texture. Pillowing is creating a tight, round pillow out of a few stems placed radially. Tufting uses bunches of short stems to create an airy look. Pavé-ing is a tight clustering technique where the surface of the bunches remains totally flat, creating a cobblestone effect. (Pavé as in the jewelry technique, too.)
This design really opened my eyes to the possibilities of parallelism. I think these would make great table centerpieces because you can see through them easily and they look good from all sides. You create a little mini world in a box that has nothing to do with the way plants would really be growing and it’s kind of liberating. Also, it’s been said that men prefer these vertical designs.