The garden is very much going into hibernation mode and while some of my roses are still flowering, the majority of my Summer flowers have now died back. One of the things I love about Spring and Summer is the abundance of blooms you have to play with, both in your garden and in arrangements. However, never underestimate the impact foliage can have on its own during Autumn and Winter. If you are doing any pruning or tidying then do make sure you keep hold of the snippets, they can look stunning in arrangements. To prove this, I produced this arrangement below.
And as if by magic
Whenever I post a picture of an arrangement where it appears as if the flowers and foliage are supporting themselves, I get asked how I’ve achieved this look. The secret is chicken wire, and the beauty of using this is that you can use it time and time again, minimising waste. All you need to do is bunch it up to create a number of layers of wire, then pop it in your container. Make sure you push it down below the top of the container so you it can be disguised with foliage, flowers or moss. Also, I always add a cross of florist’s tape to the top to help secure it.
Before you start your arrangement, make sure you have conditioned your foliage. This means removing any foliage that will fall below the waterline and snipping the ends at an angle to maximise water uptake. If you are using foliage that has lots of buds, make sure you trim these off as far down as possible. You are trying to create as smooth a stem as possible to ensure you can insert and remove it easily. The next step is to pop your foliage in water, with a drop of bleach added, and then leave overnight so the stems can re-hydrate.
Where to start
It can seem a little daunting when you first start an arrangement, and for the first few pieces you add, you find yourself wondering whether it will ever take shape (at least, I do!). However, keep going, as the more you add, the more of a feel you get for the shape of the arrangement. Here are some further tips:
- If you have quite a rigid type of foliage then use this to create your structure. I’ve used snippets of Red Oak, which is a fabulous colour. However, it’s extremely rigid, so great to use for the backbone of the design. For this type of design, think of a posy or a pyramid, and start by adding a central piece before working down from this point. How wide you go at the base is entirely up to you, depending on the shape and design you are looking for. In my opinion, there’s no right or wrong way of doing this. My advice would be to go with what you like, how you want it to look and where it will be positioned. Do try and arrange in situ if you can as this will dictate the overall size you go for.
- If your arrangement is going to be placed against a wall then you don’t need to create a full arrangement. Start by placing your first section in the centre and then work down. You can disguise the back with foliage later.
Always look at the shape of the foliage you are working with. If for example it has a natural bend in it then work with it. Don’t fight against it, that’s how its grown in nature and I quite like mirroring that in my arrangements.
- To help ease thick sections of foliage through the mesh, gently twist as you insert it into the wire. The same goes in reverse if you want to remove it.
- Once you have your structure in place you are ready to fill the gaps. I’ve gone for Eucalyptus (green and red), viburnum berries and Panicum Squaw (the grass). All bring a different feel to the design. The Eucalyptus help fill the gaps and bring a glorious scent and colour to the arrangement while the grass helps creates movement against the red oak backbone.
- Don’t forget to work with your vase or in my case the urn. I added some viburnum berries to bring an Autumnal feel to the arrangement but also to create the illusion that the arrangement has grown out of the vase.
Don’t forget to keep stepping back and checking or even better take a picture of it. The camera never lies and always highlights where the gaps are or where things are not quite right.
Flower arranging is very individual and while there are things that help with a design, just go with what feels right for you and what you like. It’s going to be living in your home so you want it to make you smile every time you walk past it.
With love and stay safe, Flowers and Lifestyle by Margot –
Find out more about me – www.flowersandlifestylebymargot.co.uk