candy dish display

The Art of Arrangement

For me it’s near impossible to clip a healthy bloom from the garden.  A bouquet is a lovely display, but I’ve never had the knack for arranging one nicely.  My lack of confidence means sacrificing the beauty in the garden just doesn’t happen.

hollowed log with glass vase inside
photo by Joyce Sturney

Friends KC & JJ have the knack & the know how.  I’ve admired their prowess for years, so when I was organizing a speaker presentation for the View Royal Garden Club, it’s not a surprise who got the call.

Their challenge was creating ‘a few’ real life arrangements with little more than what’s available in our own homes & gardens.

My garden in early summer looks lush, but pretty much all the colourful spring show is done….  meaning dead.  By this time of year I’m more interested in camping than watering the yard.  I’m sure there’re more hardy perennials that would stand up to my non-nurturing… I’m sure I could source them out… if I made the effort.  But I don’t, so there.

mossy branch curls around triangle
photo by Joyce Sturney
Calla Lilies with Funky Poppy
photo by Joyce Sturney

Even still, I feel kinda guilty having diddly to offer for the project.

The dynamic duo took to their tasks with gusto none the less.  Both master gardeners have long since downsized from their family sized gardens (acerages), but they gleaned what they could around their current modest yards.  Then they went further afield.

We sweet talked neighbours, pilfered boulevards, and waded rural ditches in search of art & inspiration.

candy dish display
photo by Joyce Sturney
tall / narrow triangle
photo by Joyce Sturney
a leaf twits back & thru itself
photo by Joyce Sturney
classic triangle design
photo by Joyce Sturney

The adventure was for a good cause: my education & entertainment.  (AND for the simple sake of the adventure itself!)

I’m happy to report a few of the tips I picked up:

  • Hiding a little vase inside a hollowed out piece of firewood provides an added element to a rustic arrangement.
  • Seed pods, mossy twigs, & other non-blossoms add something extra to a bouquet.
  • A candy dish works perfectly as a base for a low centrepiece of fragrant clematis and a peony leaf.  How easy is that !?!
  • Pulling inspiration from the colour palette of the container helps in grouping otherwise dissimilar blooms.
  • It is fun to play with different textures in flowers and foliage.
  • Oasis is really only good once as a medium for holding a fresh display.  After that it gets too crumbly to support stems firmly – and it loses its moisture holding capacity.
  • Those heavy little metal bases-with-spikes-sticking-up have a funky name.  They’re called “frogs”.  🙂   They’re far better for holding flowers over multiple occasions; PLUS they help weigh down a top-heavy arrangement; PLUS they can be sourced for cheap at thrift stores.  Win Win Win !!!
  • The safest shape to start with is a triangle & it doesn’t matter if it’s equilateral or obtuse.
  • Arrangers are notorious for manipulating nature.  Securing a gladioli stem to a stick overnight will convince the specimen to straighten for the big show.  Carefully stuffing cotton balls behind the blooms for that same time period will bend them just enough they face one direction.  Pretty tricky, eh?
  • Stick to odd numbers in groupings:  3’s, 5’s, 7’s – – for some reason even groups can be boring.
  • Even when the iris bloom is done, the smooth, flat spike of the leaf works as a background for other blossoms in an arrangement.

Many of the handy tips sound very similar to those for arranging a garden bed.  One thing I’ve learned from that experience is if it doesn’t work the first time, switch it up a bit.  It’s just a learning thing.

Do you have the nerve for giving it a go?

-30-
© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Arrangement”

  1. This was a great read. Not sure I will venture into any of the ideas though. I hate to cut my flowers!!

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