Random Thoughts About Floral Design

Here are a couple of arrangements I made in a flower arranging class I took last week with my sister:

succulent1

terrarium

Now for my random thoughts:

1) The theme of this particular class was “Succulents.” Apparently succulents are all the rage in the flower design world as well as the gardening world generally.  The owner of the flower shop said that brides are now carrying bouquets featuring succulents, which is neat, but what about brides carrying full-on CACTUS bouquets down the aisle?  The closest I could find is this really cool desert-inspired bouquet below, but it looks like they snipped off the spines.  Too bad.  I like the idea of the bride being able to literally — rather than just figuratively — impale anybody at the wedding who displeases her.

midcentury-styled-14

2. Flower arranging is one of those things I would love to take up as a hobby, if only my time, dollars, and closet space weren’t already depleted by other expensive, time-consuming, stuff-heavy hobbies.

3. There are many different styles of flower design.  The shop where we took the class specializes in Pave (imagine an accent mark over the “e”) style, which is where you really pack the flowers close together to create a jewel-like effect.  I actually like the naturalistic style of flower design a bit better, like the ones featured in this awesome book, but I like the Pave style, too.  It is opulent!

4. Here is a helpful primer about floral design published by the Garden Club of Virginia, if you are interested.

5. I really have no aptitude for floral design at all, which is why I appreciated this class. The instructors talked a bit about design theory, but also told you exactly how to make the arrangement, so that even a talentless doofus could walk away with something amazing.  The instructors are so nice as they come around and help, too: “hmmm, why don’t we just take this” (green branch that juts awkwardly from the vase) “and trim it and tuck it right here?” (where it won’t look like a kindergartener put it).  Yes, thank you!

6. Flower arranging has an interesting history, going all the way back to ancient Egypt.  Certain cultures were really into it (e.g., Victorian England) and others not so much (Communist China).  In fact, during the Cultural Revolution in China, flower arranging was seen as an extravagant capitalist luxury, and Chairman Mao encouraged citizens to dig up flowers and smash flower pots.  I am so glad that I live in America, where you can pry my opulent succulent arrangement from my cold, dead hands.

7. I greatly admire the skill involved in floral design and love gazing at elaborate arrangements.  However, never underestimate the power of a few flowers/cuttings snipped from your very own yard and put in a glass of water.  Even herbs from the grocery store!  This winter I’ve been growing herbs under lights, and right now I have a juice glass stuffed with basil sitting next to my kitchen sink.  Whenever I wash dishes, I reach out and crush a leaf and the smell of it transports me to Provence or Tuscany, where I unfortunately also seem to be doing dishes, but still.

 

 

Comments

  1. Thanks for giving me my 1st chuckle of the day. I love your sense of humor.

  2. Interesting! Never knew there was a word for pavé style arranging. We have prickly pear cactus that grow wild in Georgia but in the nursery there is a spinless cultivar. It may be the cultivar that is being used in arrangements. I have always loved succulents but I’m afraid they are going to be “out of style” due to such widespread popularity. Pottery Barn offering fake succulents! Thanks your your blog!

  3. Heather, it makes total sense that there would be a spineless cultivar. Although I’m not sure how I feel about that….a spineless cactus seems a little like a declawed cat. I didn’t realize just how popular succulents were until recently; you are right, though, their popularity will probably implode soon….I wonder what will be next? Maybe ferns will make a comeback?

  4. Debbie Nagy says:

    I love your posts, Mary, but especially this one about flower arranging. I grew up in East Texas where both my mother and grandmother were State flower show judges. They were always traveling across Texas to flower shows, and always creating arrangements. I felt that I spent about 50% of my life in florists’ shops, and I knew more about florist wire, picks, and tape, wet foam versus styrofoam blocks, and flower frogs than most kids my age. Every vase, pot, and figurine I inherited from my mother and grandmother still has green sticky clay on it today! The upside is that I seem to have acquired a little eye for flower arranging, just from observation, but I would probably benefit from some actual classes. I’m glad to know you’re pursuing that art. If you ever need some driftwood for one of your creations, let me know. (I inherited quite a few interesting pieces and can’t throw them away.)

    • Hi Debbie! Thank you for reading! That is really cool that you inherited that skill and knowledge from your mom and grandmother…I think that is how this kind of thing is best passed on. The only gardener in my family was my grandfather, and he died before I was born. But I keep a picture of him on my desk at home (it’s of him outside with his dahlias) and sometimes I try to channel his gardening mojo. 🙂

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