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Flower Arranging 101: Effortless Takes Effort


Flower Arranging 101: Effortless Takes Effort

June 21, 2013

In week two of my flower arranging class–Flower Arranging 101, with Chelsea Fuss–I admit that I almost threw in the towel. But after the first week of formal flower arranging taught me the need for humility, week two revealed there is wisdom in letting well enough alone. Deep breaths also helped.

Our assignment was to create a wild English garden arrangement. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? But somewhere between crisscrossing a grid of floral tape on top of my vessel and adding the flowers, I became utterly uptight about what a carefree floral arrangement should look like.

Chelsea encouraged class to channel English gardening heroine Gertrude Jekyll, who famously said, “In garden arrangement, as in all other kinds of decorative work, one has not only to acquire a knowledge of what to do, but also to gain some wisdom in perceiving what it is well to let alone.” After I managed to stop fussing, I saw the wisdom in her words. 

Missing a flower frog in my arsenal of garden tools (you can see the full set in Tool Box for a City Gardener), I attempted a makeshift flower frog using crumpled garden wire. It ended up working well enough, but if I attempt another arrangement of this sort, I’m definitely scraping together a few pennies for one of Sprout Home’s Vintage-Style Flower Frogs.

My arrangement suffered a few vessel-related mishaps before I settled on using an old galvanized bucket that was deep enough to keep the stems from flopping out time after time. The Socker Plant Pot is a similar option from Ikea, available for just 99 cents. Chelsea recommends the lovely Footed Asian Bowl from Potluck Studio.

For my focal flower, I used a coral variety of garden roses, whose multi-petaled ruffles reminded me of the deep pink rose named after my muse: The Gertrude Jekyll Rose is available from David Austen Roses for $24.95.

I paired the roses with tiny dot mums, vining purple clematis, oversized puffs of Queen Anne’s lace, and large geranium leaves in hopes of creating a bouquet that looks like it might have been plucked directly from the garden.

For me as a city dweller with only a few window boxes to call my own, one of the most eye-opening aspects of taking a floral arranging class has been to recognize the cost of flowers. Unable to get to the flower market early enough in the morning this week, I popped into a local florist shop with Chelsea’s recipe list in hand. I ended up choosing the relatively less-expensive stems of Queen Anne’s lace as a secondary flower instead of adding a second type of rose to help keep down my costs.

In the end, Chelsea recommended that I might have paired some of my roses closer together. More like the way I coupled the roses above.

She also recommended a second piece of vining clematis for the bottom of the arrangement to help balance the look and to make things look just a little bit more wild. What do you think? Does the final look like something worthy of the name Wild English Garden Bouquet? Or would Buttoned-up in Brooklyn be more apt?

For Part 1 of my floral arranging exploits, see Flower Arranging 101, or Lessons in Humility.

Need more inspiration? Check out Bouquets of the Week.

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