The art of floral arranging requires thought and a keen eye. It's not arbitrary or subjective and follows logic and rules. Some styles, such as Japanese ikebana, have been around for centuries, while modern styles are constantly evolving. Floral artists are always looking for new and cutting-edge methods for displaying flowers, but there are several traditional styles they all follow.
Formal flower arrangements are designed to fit the occasion, such as birthday and anniversaries, and often highlight a particular flower or colour. They can be created in varying heights or with all flowers at the same height, depending on the goal. Often, formal arrangements feature a monochromatic look. There are usually no spaces within the arrangements, and they can come in a variety of shapes such as spherical or elliptical.
Linear designs focus on lines and movement with the arrangement. The lines can be straight or bowed and extend in any direction. Formal linear arrangements often consist of four sections, one that extends upward, another that extends downward, one that goes toward the back, and one that goes to the side. An arrangement that goes in too many directions may seem too busy. The angles and lines should be clearly defined. Often, distinctive materials are incorporated into the design such as moss, grasses and branches. The container or vase should be in proportion to the arrangement. Balance is the key.
Vegetative designs are more organic in style and appearance. They often mimic a garden setting or natural landscape. Consequently, the vegetative style of design has no particular form. Flowers and ancillary design elements are arranged to appear as if they are coming out of the ground. Vegetative designs generally reflect a particular season and usually have more than one focal area to emphasis the details of the arrangement.
Decorative floral style is the broadest category because it incorporates traditional floral arrangements as well as decorative elements. Decorative arrangements are varied, utilising flowers of various heights displayed with sporadic spacing to emphasise light, shade and colour. They also can feature dried flowers for autumn and winter displays and be used for garlands and wreaths, as well as in framed art.
Ikebana is a Japanese form for floral art. It differs from traditional Western techniques in that it attempts to create harmony between colour, rhythm and linear construction. Unlike Western flower arranging, it places less emphasis on colour and the quantity of flowers. It is the overall presentation that is important: the vase, stems, leaves, branches and blossoms. The arrangement is based on three points that symbolise heaven, earth and humankind. Ikebana began in Buddhist temples in the sixth century and it is often used in tea ceremonies.