Tag Archives: floral arranging

In A Vase On Monday—Vertical Challenge

In A Vase On Monday-Vertical Challenge

In A Vase On Monday-Vertical Challenge

Monday brings the chance to display cut flowers from the garden by participating in Cathy’s weekly invitation In A Vase On Monday.

Today’s arrangement of gladiolas and hydrangeas went together quickly, but I thought I might never get any pictures I could use to share them.

In A Vase On Monday-Vertical Challenge

In A Vase On Monday-Vertical Challenge

Gladiolas, adorable old-fashioned favorites, this year are blooming straighter and taller than ever, setting off today’s vertical challenge.

Though I have the perfect vase to accommodate the gladiolas’ height, photographing such a tall arrangement has been a test. I much prefer landscape format for my images, but the vertical nature of these flowers forced me into four different picture-taking sessions of mostly portrait format. Finding a satisfactory background with adequate light and capturing the rich intensity of color among the gladiolas were tricky.

Almost 200 photos later, realizing I needed to chill, I finally chose a handful to represent my Monday vase. The very first image gives a good idea of the overall size, proportion and shape of the design. The colors are truer in this version below.

In A Vase On Monday-Vertical Challenge

In A Vase On Monday-Vertical Challenge


Hydrangea macrophylla
Glass vase (This glass vase is one I love using, especially as it commemorates last year’s visit from Christina almost 1 year ago.)


In A Vase On Monday-Vertical Challenge

In A Vase On Monday-Vertical Challenge

This should be a long-lasting arrangement. I like the way it turned out and now that I am no longer photographing it, I know I will enjoy it this week.

In A Vase On Monday-Vertical Challenge

In A Vase On Monday-Vertical Challenge

As always, thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly flower obsession. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and other gardeners are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Workshop On Creative Design

Creative Design, Workshop II, January 20, 2015

Creative Design, Workshop II, January 20, 2015

Tuesday I attended the second session of a Workshop II floral design class offered through my garden club. We began the class by practicing leaf manipulation, then used the altered leaves to develop a Creative Design.

As a novice student in the area of floral design it is difficult to know, much less explain, exactly what creative floral design is. The goal I believe is to fabricate a design no one else has ever done (conceptual originality), using basic design principles that apply to any artistic endeavor (foundational standards), and exhibiting consummate craftsmanship. None of these criteria are met by the arrangement I created on Tuesday, but after having been throughout the exercise I do believe I am beginning to internalize the goals.

Our teacher, Betsy, has a network of floral suppliers and for a small fee she provides each student the flowers and foliage to complete the design. This is helpful so that we all start out with the appropriate materials each time. Betsy is a garden club member, an experienced floral designer and a flower show judge. Two other members assist with the class, both of whom are also flower designers, and one is also a judge. I really appreciate that these women volunteer their time and expertise to help educate club members in floral design.

For class this week we were asked to bring an interesting branch, 1-2 inches thick and at least 20 inches high. Yesterday my husband helped me prune an outlier branch from a Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle) to use for this project. Unfortunately choosing a 20-inch section that had interesting curves proved challenging, but I sectioned a piece from the top that seemed to meet the criteria. I saved some of the wood for another project.

Branch pruned from Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle)

I cut a portion from this large branch pruned from Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle)

Once in class the base of the branch had to be scored or split to allow the branch to be inserted into a 3-inch florist pin holder. The lines of the branch established the line of the design. What I learned as I moved through the course was that the branch I chose proved to be too wispy and busy, not really strong or hefty enough to compete with the weight of the leaves and flowers we used. Thankfully the teachers gave lots of helpful comments, explanations and hands-on assistance, so I probably learned more by having to compensate for the size of the branch.

With the branch in place we turned our attention to leaf manipulation. We began trimming, folding, cutting, braiding, weaving and looping our leaves. This activity could have consumed the entire two hours of the class. My teacher Betsy demonstrated an interesting technique using an aspidistra leaf. She applied peel-off UGlu adhesive patches along the back spine of the leaf and lay medium weight florist wire down the spine. Next she trimmed an inch-wide strip from the length of a second aspidistra leaf and used it to cover the wire. With the wire in place the leaf can be then be folded, scrunched, twisted or otherwise manipulated and the shape will hold.

Wired and folded aspidistra leaf

Wired and folded aspidistra leaf

Without a clear design idea in mind it took me a while to get started with the alterations I was so afraid of “messing up” which is always something I must always overcome when learning a new activity. By nature I am usually very reflective and like to weigh all the possibilities, but the class time was extremely limited of course. I finally conquered my timidity and began preparing the leaves.

Eventually I inserted an Fatsia leaf (without manipulating it), added an accordion-folded, wired Aspidistra leaf and add a couple of other rolled Aspidistras. I also made a loose loop using half-dozen strands of beargrass and used a quarter section of a fan palm to complete the foliage.

Fatsia and Fan Palm Leaves

The looped beargrass did not survive the car ride home so I learned a valuable lesson. The leaves have to be stapled, glued, wired or otherwise securely fastened.

Looped Bear Grass

Looped and Wrapped Beargrass

Manipulated leaves in Creative Design

Manipulated leaves and Asiatic lily in Creative Design

I really liked working with aspidistra leaves. Each one has a unique pattern.

Bicolored Aspidistra was trimmed to make it narrower, then rolled and glued.

Bicolored Aspidistra was trimmed to make it narrower, then rolled and glued.

By this time I became more decisive and ended up trimming away quite a lot of the wispy branches and several major ones. Less is more in creative design. With a great deal of conversation and guidance from the instructors the arrangement began to take shape. Betsy helped me place three tightly closed Asiatic lilies, the only flowers used in the design. Each lily was cut to be a different height. Two were placed in front and one was added in back near the base. It will be interesting to see how the design changes as the lilies open. After two days they have opened only slightly.

Creative Design

Creative Design

I brought home some leftover flowers and leaves so I can experiment with creative design some more this week. (The leaves were featured for January Garden Bloggers Foliage Day.)

Some of the materials had shifted around during the car ride so I reworked them before photographing the arrangement once I got home. The angle I worked from is hard to recapture in the photographs. Slight shifts in the camera angle really change the effect so the design integrity needs to be strong from all frontal and side points of view.

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Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant)
Fatsia japonica
Arecaceae (Fan Palm)
Xerophyllum tenax (Beargrass)
Lilium (Asiatic lily)
Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle) branch, 1-2 inches thick, at least 20 inches high
3-inch florist pin holder
Oasis Lomey 11″ Round Designer Dish – Black
UGlu Adhesive Strips

Having gone through the class this week I realize I have a lot of work to do to prepare for an upcoming Floral Design Guild event. For this I have to come up with a concept, select a container and appropriate background, devise necessary mechanics to ensure the arrangement stands up properly and select the flowers and foliage. February will be here soon. Hoping to come up with a bold and dynamic design, I also have to keep reminding myself to relax and enjoy the journey.


Crescent Design

I took a beginning-level floral design workshop two years ago through my local garden club. When I could not attend class on the day we studied Crescent Design, my teacher invited me to return for a make-up class. Yesterday I finally made it back.

Crescent is a fun design to make and everyone’s arrangements turned out well. All designs shared the basic crescent form, yet we commented how different each result was. Given that we started with the same instructions and same materials, each person’s unique approach was apparent.

The crescent design is asymmetrical. Think of the way the crescent moon looks. The longer curve is usually on the left in this design.

Crescent Design

Crescent Design

We formed the line of the crescent using stems of Israeli Ruscus and Bells of Ireland. Bells of Ireland have some natural curve and the ruscus can be slowly bent to encourage it into shape. It does not mean it is easy to keep that line curving though. Next the line was reinforced with flowers. We used spray roses, alstroemeria, and several sizes of carnations. The largest carnations were reserved to create a focal point near the bottom.

Left curve of crescent. Line was formed using Israeli Ruscus and Bells of Ireland.

Left curve of crescent. Line was formed using Israeli Ruscus and Bells of Ireland.

In a class like this the atmosphere is a bit frenzied since there is a limited amount of time to complete the assignment.  I always think I could have fixed this or that with a bit more time and even before I photographed the flowers I could see some changes that would improve the design. I let the bottom of the crescent become a little too heavy and should have left some negative space to help keep the eye moving from one side of the crescent to the other.

Nevertheless I was excited by the result.

Bottom of the crescent ended up a bit heavy.

Bottom of the crescent ended up a bit heavy.

I brought home some leftover flowers and several stems of Ruscus so I can play with crescent design some more this week.


3 stems Ruscus sp. (hypoglossum or hypophyllum) (Israeli Ruscus)
3 stems Moluccella laevis (Bells of Ireland)
3 stems White Spray Roses – petite flowers, 3 to 5 flowers per stem
3 stems White Large Carnations – one large flower per stem
3-4 stems White Spray Carnations (Mini Carnations) – many smaller flowers
3 stems Green Dwarf flowered Carnations – several small flowers on one stem
3 stems Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily)
6-inch clear, shallow dish
Floral foam brick

Carnations, Bells of Ireland and Alstroemeria

Carnations, Bells of Ireland and Alstroemeria

Lesson Notes

The instructor began the lesson by introducing two design principles, dominance and contrast, along with two design elements, color and texture. From last time she also reviewed the principles of balance and rhythm and the elements, color and form. We looked at many examples in the textbook and had an interesting discussion about why they worked. (Interestingly, some of the examples, we agreed, did not really work successfully and it was helpful to have the teacher and the other two women who were assisting her point out some quibbles they saw with some of the arrangements pictured in our book.)

It is hard to keep all these concepts in mind once flowers are in hand, but over time reviewing these design principles and elements improves and refines our sensibilities and taste.

Elements of Design
In flower arranging the basic design components or building blocks are balance, contrast, dominance, proportion, rhythm, scale.

Principles of Design
The principles guide how the elements are structured or arranged, leading to a cohesive design (color, form, line, space, texture).

Crescent Design

Crescent Design

As I mentioned today’s workshop was a make-up class from the beginner level class. Actually this year I am taking the second level workshop series and I look forward to meeting with that class next week. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to study with the women from the garden club who conduct these classes for the members.

Merry Christmas 2014!

Christmas Centerpiece 2014

Christmas Centerpiece 2014

Hope everyone has had a wonderful day. We celebrated Christmas today with gifts, phone calls with family in many corners of the country and dinner at our home with a special friend. Thanks for the many good wishes from my blogging friends.

In A Vase On Monday-Yuletide

In A Vase On Monday-Yuletide. As it looked on Monday with Camellias.

Yuletide camellias in the vase from Monday did not last long enough to see this holiday through, but an extra package of cranberries pulled from the freezer at the last moment gave the arrangement new life.

In fact, I like the result better than the original. More of the Husker Red Penstemon is visible now and the deeper red of the berries seems to accentuate the dark burgundy hue of the penstemon foliage.

The only other change was the addition of a piece of fruit, a Christmas orange. Looking at the photograph I think the color of a lime might have been nice instead. May have to try that.

View from above - Christmas Centerpiece 2014

View from above – Christmas Centerpiece 2014

Side view - Christmas Centerpiece 2014

Side view – Christmas Centerpiece 2014

Meditation Circle At MidNovember

Meditation Circle In MidNovember

Meditation Circle In MidNovember, 2014

The meditation circle was used for walking meditations this spring and summer, but I never got around to planting anything new until fall. During the first week of October I added red Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) and blue Viola (Johnny-Jump Up). Both are blooming right through the unusually cold, record-setting weather we have had for the past week.

A few violas also volunteered from last year but not in their designated spot.  The planting areas are supposed to form the “wall” between the pavers that form the path.  Instead the violas and actually, quite a few Penstemon Digitalis (Beardtongue) ‘Huskers Red,’ have spread themselves around in-between the pavers. I left most of them for now even though they have not followed the rules.

Early next spring I want to add back some Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft).  This image from  a couple of years ago shows one of my favorite plantings in the circle (of course, it was May). Not much is left of it today except the very reliable Husker Red.

Meditation Circle May 3, 2012 Foreground: Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)  Center: Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) Upper Right and center: Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue) Upper Right: Angelonia

Meditation Circle May 3, 2012
Foreground: Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)
Center: Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)
Upper Right and center: Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Upper Right: Angelonia

When the labyrinth was first conceived I had imagined planting it one time with perfectly chosen plants and reaping the pleasure for years to come, but instead I guess I will reap the pleasure of devising and experimenting with new planting schemes. I had not taken into account at the time such outside forces as drought, standing water or voles.

Several garden visitors have remarked at how the meditation circle has grown in and become more integrated into the rest of the garden. It is true, but in some ways I prefer the more spare and stark look it had when it was first built.

This year the various thymes thickened and crept toward the pavers. I thought I would like that effect but now I am tempted to trim them back to be more tidy. It looks drab now but Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme) in the center of the circle bloomed from the first of July until the end of October. All the thymes should remain evergreen through the winter.

Detail of thymes creeping over the path.

Detail of thymes creeping over the path.

Magnolia Leaves

Today’s monthly garden club meeting featured Jihye Schumann, a designer who began studying floral design 14 years ago in Korea. She demonstrated making arrangements for the home with fruits, vegetables and flowers. Unfortunately I did not have a chance to get pictures of her more elaborate creations, but I did win one of the small ones in a raffle.

Jihye showed how to create a simple and inexpensive display to decorate a tea table by filling three inexpensive glass cups with chrysanthemums from a grocery store and found magnolia leaves.  My photograph does not do this justice. Since I could bring home only one of the cups I cannot show the full effect, but the display of three looked quite nice. She suggested adding candles and a teapot to the three cups of flowers and everyone nodded, envisioning how lovely that grouping might look.

Garden Club Raffle Prize

Garden Club Raffle Prize

The interesting part was how Jihye manipulated the fresh magnolia leaves. First she stacked and aligned about a dozen leaves so they were all pointing the same direction, then she cut them in half with scissors.

Next she restacked the leaves tightly, such that the cut sides all faced down. She inserted the stack into the container with the cut side down. She repeated the process two more times so there were three groups of leaves and then she just added a few stems of flowers for color. Simple, but unusual.

Magnolia leaves, stacked and cut in half provide the foliage.

Magnolia leaves, stacked and cut in half provide the foliage.

In A Vase On Monday—Roses And Lavender

Roses and Lavender

Roses and Lavender

It is the first Monday of May and I am joining Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday to create a floral arrangement from materials gathered in one’s own garden.

This weekend when I saw my old-fashioned rose had begun blooming I immediately decided to feature it in my Monday vase. It is a sentimental favorite.

A pass-along rose

A pass-along rose

I brought this rose from my previous garden when we moved here thirteen years ago. It was a pass-along from my mother’s cousin, a sweet woman whom I consider my gardening mentor. She was the source of many other pass-along plants as well. My mother had also grown this same rose, as did my maternal grandmother, so each spring when I see these deep pink buds, they bring tender memories.

Roses and Lavender-2

Lavender branches seemed a perfect choice for greenery and for contrast included Salvia Dorada ‘Aurea’ (Golden Sage). I selected a few salmony-pink Dianthus as filler flowers.

Roses and Lavender-6



When doing formal arrangements I always underestimate how much material is required. With a bare spot still needing to be filled I remembered a piece of Allium Nigrum had broken off in the garden the other day before it even had opened, so I had brought it inside. It worked fine to finish this week’s vase.

White flower of Allium Nigrum was a last minute addition to the arrangement.

White flower of Allium Nigrum was a last minute addition to the arrangement.

Materials List
Old-fashioned Rose
Dianthus ‘Ideal Select Salmon’
Salvia Dorada ‘Aurea’ (Golden Sage)
Allium Nigrum

This design is my loose interpretation of a traditional round design. The rose stems were not strong enough to work with easily, but the arrangement went together without too much fretting. I used floral foam set into a 4-inch diameter, shallow dish to hold the flowers, envisioning that the arrangement would sit atop a crystal vase. Because I had not been careful to conceal the sides of the plastic dish, the effect was imperfect though.  I tested the arrangement on a round, straight-sided black ceramic pot and also without an extra vase.  In the morning perhaps I will gather a few concealer leaves or flowers to resolve that issue.

Roses and Lavender-5

The roses and lavender are wonderfully fragrant. My husband remarked how nice the house smells tonight.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Visit her to see what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Garden Club Flowers In A Mug

Flowers In A Mug

Although I have already posted pictures of flowers in a vase today here is another arrangement.

My garden club meets tomorrow morning and each member has been asked to bring in a mug of flowers to set up on a table for a cheerful spring display.

With this in mind, on Sunday I purchased some purple and white stock and some white roses tinted with the barest apricot hue.

Flowers In A Mug-7

The flowers were not in pristine condition, especially the roses, but I used them anyway tonight to create a round design in a heavy, lime green soup mug.

I filled out the arrangement with stems of Japanese holly, branches of spiraea and a few sprigs of lavender.


Flowers In A Mug-2 Flowers In A Mug-3 Flowers In A Mug-5

In thinking about how the design turned out I would change several things. I would increase the number of roses and reduce the stems of stock. Perhaps I will like it better when the stock finishes opening.

Flowers In A Mug-6

I used the Japanese holly stems around the base of the mug to hide the florist’s foam and it seems very dark and dense. Next time I might opt for lavender or something else that is lighter.

I also cut the roses too short and should have adjusted the other material accordingly. In fact, lowering the arrangement by several inches might improve the overall proportions, but overall I am please with the balance.

The white stock is especially pretty, more fully open and fresher than the purple one.
Flowers In A Mug-8

Flowers In A Mug-9

Flowers In A Mug-10

This was a fun design to create and it is always a good learning experience to work with different materials. It will be fun to see the other members’ mugs. The spring garden table will be overflowing with flowers at tomorrow’s meeting.

Parallel Floral Design

Today was the last floral design workshop until Fall. Discussion was focused on the element of proportion and the design we created was The Parallel. This design is recommended to be created in a 12-inch long rectangular dish that is 2 inches high, using three 2.5 to 3-inch floral pins, aligned in a row. Our containers instead were round, posing a slightly different challenge.

Parallel Design

Parallel Design

This was the first time the class used floral pins instead of foam to hold the flowers.  The pins were easy to use and the arrangements went together quickly. As usual I could have used more time, but each pin can be moved around so there is a bit of flexibility and adjustments are easy to make later. (One must know what adjustment needs to be made and is that not always an issue, the knowing?)

The next garden club meeting will feature a Members’ Flower Show, the first for the club in many years I understand. I will enter one of the four designs we studied in this year’s workshops into the “New Sprouts” class, but have not decided yet what design that will be.

The plant material for today’s exercise was Bells of Ireland, Carnation, Liatris, Snapdragon and variegated leaves whose name I forgot to record.

Photographing this design proved to be a challenge. Using a black mat board gives an entirely different effect than allowing the light switch to show through. Details…

Parallel Design

Parallel Design

Parallel Design

Parallel Design with LIght Switch

A Lime Green Fancy

For the monthly garden club meeting tomorrow all members have been asked to bring along a mug of flowers to set on a table, just for the fun of it. I used a lime green mug to hold Ranunculus, Iris, Alstroemeria, Solidago, Lavender and Juniper. It will be fun to see all the flower-filled mugs.

Flowers In A Mug

Flowers In A Mug


Ranunculus and Iris

Creative Mass Design

Creative Design, GHGC Level 1-4

Yesterday I participated in another flower arranging class offered through my garden club. I had missed the January session and November’s lesson seemed long ago. It was fun to get back.

This two-hour workshop was titled Creative Mass Design. Among other characteristics, the use of bold colors typifies this kind of design. Varying types of flowers are tightly grouped or massed together and constructed without filler materials. Three-dimensionality is achieved through consideration of foreground, middle ground and background.

Using examples from our book and pointing out features in her sample creative design floral arrangement, the instructor presented a short lesson on the design principle of scale, and the design element, space. For flower arranging purposes space is the open area in and around the design. During this class we created a closed design.

Creative Design, GHGC Level 1-13Next we had a hands-on session about manipulating materials. In this case it was rolling and folding yellow and green striped leaves of ‘Lemon Lime’ Warneckii. For this type of design plant materials that have been abstracted by folding, clipping or bending may used in varying degrees.

The second hour we were let loose to create our own Creative Mass Design arrangement. There were so many things to keep in mind while working on the design (most of which came to me later, after the class). As with the last session the time passed all too quickly and all too soon it was time to pack up.

Creative Design, GHGC Level 1-3

Photographing the arrangement once I was home helped me study my design, see it differently and analyze it more objectively than when I was working on it in class. Using the images I noticed some things in my arrangement that seemed obviously unresolved, but there were some aspects there I liked as well. I am too much a novice to explain more.

It was a fun challenge to work with these particular plant materials to solve a design problem. Floral design is not very intuitive to me, but that is all the more reason for studying the basic principles and elements—it is a journey and I have taken another baby step.

A Round Table Design

Today I attended the first of four flower arranging workshops sponsored by the local garden club. What a fun, if humbling, time.

The style for this initial class was a classic design, a round table arrangement. The instructor gave a concise and clear introduction to the design elements, color and texture, and to the design principles, balance and rhythm, as they relate to flower arranging.

Next she demonstrated how to establish the circular shape using outline foliage, then continued stepping through each stage, describing each component we would use in the design. Soon it was our turn and the rest of the two hours passed all too quickly. I was one of the last students to leave. I wish there had been a little more time to reflect and analyze as I went along but I will practice this style again (and again) to work through the techniques. The next class is not until after the new year, but I am already looking forward to it.

Fresh materials used in this floral arrangement are:

Outline foliage: Ruscus
Concealer leaves: Galax
Outline flowers: Safflower and spray Chrysanthemum
Round focal flowers: Chrysanthemum
Filler flowers and foliage: Hypericum and Seeded Eucalyptus