Arranging flowers, especially those you have grown yourself, is a satisfying and rewarding experience. Whether you begin with garden-fresh blooms or stems from your local florist, you can arrange a pleasing floral design by following a few basic guidelines.
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To design arrangements like a florist, you will need floral supplies. Essentials include florist foam, also known as oasis; florist tape and wire; sharp floral shears; and a variety of sturdy containers. These items are widely available at hobby stores and florist supply locations, as well as through online vendors. The florist foam acts not only as a watering medium to prolong the life of your arrangement, but also the base for a structured arrangement that has life and geometrical shape. Florist wire and tape can be used to sturdy a flower stem that is weak, or to add length or flexibility to a stem for expanded design applications. Shears will make your work more efficient and keep the stems in good shape for drawing water, and containers provide a reliable base as well as support for your arrangement.
The Crescent Shape
The crescent or dome-style arrangements are perfectly suited as a table centrepiece. To create a crescent shape, which looks like a moon with curve facing up or down, assemble lengths of stems from long to short. A general rule of thumb adapted from online flower arranging expert Liztiany Zakaria is that long stems are 2 times the height of your container, medium stems are 3/4 the length of the long and short stems are 1/4 the length of the long. Dendrobium orchid stems, gladiolus and stock are all examples of multi-flowered, longer stems. Single lilies and orchids also are good choices for longer stems. For shorter lengths, choose roses, carnations, peonies, gerber daisies or similar round form, bunching blooms. To form the upright crescent, place florist foam in a medium-size container and fill with water. Then, place the long-stemmed flowers into the sides of the foam, with the ends arching upward. Next, fill in the centre of the arrangement with medium lengths of larger single blooms in the back, placing shortest lengths of medium- to small-size blooms in the front centre. An inverted or upside-down crescent is formed in a similar manner, with the long, arched stems facing down. Filler such as ornamental grasses, leaves and tiny clustered berries can be used for fullness and interest. The crescent is also a popular style for wedding bouquets, with a tied ribbon handle for the bride at the centre of the arrangement.
The Dome Shape
To craft a dome arrangement, a shallow, round container is used. Using damp floral foam as a base, assemble any kind of round-bloomed, straight-stemmed flower, such as carnations, roses or daisies, cut to the same length. Insert the flowers at regular intervals in the foam evenly over the surface, taking care that no one flower "sticks out" beyond the others. Fill in between the primary flower with a colour accent filler, like hypericum berries, wax flowers, Queen Anne's lace or baby's breath. Additional spaces can be filled with small-leaved, varied green stems. The overall look should resemble a basketball cut in half, well suited for a table centrepiece or mantle arrangement. A horizontal arrangement, popular for tables as well, is a modified dome with progressively longer focal flowers extending out on either side of the arrangement, creating an elongated shape like a raised oval instead of a ball.
The L-shape arrangement is helpful to learn since it easily can be modified into other forms for extra drama or interest. Choose sturdy-stemmed, dramatic blooms for the focal flowers in this arrangement. Begin by choosing a stout, medium to wide container mouth filled with soaked floral foam. Cut long, medium and short stems of gladiolus, lilies or orchids. Insert a few long stems upright in the container and extending out from one side. Fill in the centre of the "L" shape with medium and short lengths, with the shortest focal flowers in the centre to the front. Accent flowers, often in complementary or contrasting colours, can be added sparingly in the medium- to short-stem length throughout the middle. Take care to preserve the "L" form by not filling tall blooms between the upright and extending longer stems. Add short filler leaves and small blooms to complete the look. By adding an additional extending long stems in the opposite direction and filling in accordingly, you can create a balanced L style similar to an inverted T design. These tall, dramatic styles are perfect for holiday or home entertaining decor, as well as for ceremonies such as weddings or funerals.
Proportion and Balance
In good design, proportion and balance play their parts to create a pleasing affect. Floral design adheres to these design principles for an eye catching, well planned feel: To achieve correct proportions in a floral design, consider that there must be harmony between the size of the container and the height of the tallest flowers in the arrangement. As advised by Louise Larabie, flower arranging expert for Dotcom Women, the tallest flowers are generally placed first, with medium and shorter stems placed working from the centre out. Filler is placed last, and is used to even the arrangement and hide the florist foam or container edges. To achieve balance, the sizes of blooms and placement of stems must be visually symmetrical or asymmetrical, able to support its own weight. An arrangement that gives the viewer the feeling that it will topple over or an uncomfortable sense of large blooms outweighing smaller ones is to be avoided. Look to balance a few large, focal specimens with a variety of smaller, more profuse small blooms or filler.
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