There is a lot of oohing and ahhing at the beginning of today’s class, for the counter is covered in a array of bright tropical flowers and lush foliage, the likes of which many of us have never seen before. These are for us! To use! In an abstract design!
Cibotium Kakuma Curl Fern
Heliconia hanging 'Sexy Pink'
Zingiber 'Chocolate Ball'
Tropical flowers work great in modern and abstract designs. But they do require special care – remember, they’re from a warmer, more humid environment and often cannot survive in a cold climate or standard floral refrigerator. Use room temperature water when working with tropicals – most love to be misted on a daily basis!
Anthurium 'Obaki,' I love you
Anthurium – called Flamingoblumen in German- come in many shades and sizes, and because they drink from that pointy thing or spadex, they should be submerged under fresh water for 10-20 minutes before using them, and misted daily in an arrangement.
Jane's winning design using Heliconia Torch 'Emerald Forest'
The Philly flower show this year was full of tropicals (obviously, with the theme being Hawaii!) Our teacher Jane loves using Heliconia Torch ‘Emerald Forest’ and won a blue and gold ribbon with them in her design at the flower show this year. Here they are in another Jane design that shows you that modern/abstract design can look good in a home setting:
Jane's design - the tops are not chopped, off that's how Heliconia really are!
Then we talked about Abstraction, which in the art world indicates a departure from reality. This departure from accurate representation can be only slight, or it can be partial, or it can be complete. Jane brought up the Tree series by Piet Mondrian as an example of varying degrees of abstraction.
Piet Mondrian, Avond (Evening), Red Tree, 1908. Collection of Gemeentemuseum, The Hague.
Piet Mondrian, Gray Tree, 1911. Collection of Gemeentemuseum, The Hague.
Piet Mondrian, Flowering Apple Tree, 1912. Collection of Gemeentemuseum, The Hague.
The essence of the last Mondrian tree is distilled into lines, forms, color, space. In abstract floral design, some of the same principles apply. “Abstract floral design: A contemporary design style in which plant material and other components are used for their intrinsic qualities of line, form, color, and texture.”
Eleanor creates an abstract design - sphere of mums, heliconia hanging 'sexy pink' - container is part of design
So how does one go about creating an abstract floral design? These qualities are important to consider:
- Bold, high impact
- An emphasis on space
- Dynamic tension
- RESTRAINT! in use of plant material, often no transitional material
- Interest distributed throughout the design
- MORE THAN ONE POINT OF EMERGENCE for plant material, often unconventional placements
- Container (if used) is part of the design
- Non-naturalistic use of plant material
Jim uses all green tones. His grassy sphere creates TENSION by looking like it might roll away
And the RESTRAINT award goes to....Jenny! This design was probably one of my favorites today. One colocasia leaf, one driftwood stick, one black container. Some glue. Gorgeous.
I'm breathless. Jean's design uses heliconia, carnation, and monstera leaf, plus bear grass bundled together with silver wire. It's like that CONTAINER would be lost without exactly what's inside it.
Weren't you wondering what someone would do with the 'Chocolate Balls?' Here Parul schools us in abstract design! Talk about NON NATURALISTIC use of plant material!
Rosemary the volunteer helps out with some words of encouragement.
For my design, I used the two Protea ‘Van Rooys White’ which I had been eyeing from the beginning of class since they matched the container I brought so perfectly. In these Advanced classes, it’s BYOC! There are many many Protea species, South African flowering plants that I would love to see growing in the wild. In fact, Protea was named for the god Proteus, who could change his form at will – because Proteas have such variety of form. Tim Snyder, a graduate of the Professional Gardener program at Longwood, now gainfully employed at Chanticleer, recently visited South Africa with a group of students. Here’s a really cute video with great music that Tim and his wife made of his trip — keep your eyes peeled for Pincushion Protea growing in the wild!
my abstract design uses two protea 'van rooys white,' one hanging in mid-air
I wanted to do something playful with one of them hanging in space unrealistically. You have to think long and hard about how to have more than one point of emergence, and this seemed like an easy way to achieve that. I wired the stem using fairly heavy wire, sticking it into the floral foam inside the container. Then I covered the wiring mechanic with brown paper packing material. The apidistra leaf stem pokes right through and with the remaining space I poked in a few yellow pom pom mums to peek out.
other side of my abstract design, pom pom mums peeking out
This class was totally mind-bending. It really makes you throw away a lot of the rules to see that anything’s possible in the world of floral design!