Home > Craft Topics > Craft Introductions > Flower Arranging
Flowers are one of the most delightful and challenging of creative materials. Their availability and the minimal equipment needed to start flower arranging makes this one of the most accessible crafts. It also gives great pleasure both to the arranger and the recipient.
Origins of Arranging Flowers
The idea of arranging cut flowers decoratively is as old as
civilisation itself. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Persian stone
reliefs show vases of flowers in domestic and ceremonial settings.
In more recent history, 17th century Dutch and
Flemish flower paintings, with their informal, generously full vases of
sometimes 25 or more different species, set the style for flower arranging
for the next 300 years. In 18th and early 19th
century France, vases became more ornate and the scale, grander and more
Victorian flower displays ranged from the ostentatious to
simple posies of wild flowers. At the turn of the 20th century,
Oriental flower arranging, with its minimalist approach, greatly affected
Highly stylised, formal flower arrangements are a relatively modern trend, which developed over the last 50 years. Today, more simple tied bunches, are gain popular.
Before the flowers are arranged they must be conditioned.
This is done in a variety of ways depending on the species. The object of
conditioning is to improve the plants water absorption rate and so
increase its life expectancy.
Hard woody stemmed varieties such as roses, for example, must
have their stems hammered or split upwards. Surplus foliage is stripped
off and the flowers are left in a cool room before being used. Ideally
store flowers in a cool storage area where they can be chilled, but not as
cold as a domestic refrigerator.
There are certain basic pieces of equipment needed for flower
arranging, but there is scope to keep the cost down.
Cutting tools – such as
secateurs, florists scissors and
knives are needed for cutting stems and wire.
Bases and containers can be any shape or size, but must be
waterproof if fresh flowers are to be used. More unusual options include
coal scuttles, umbrella stands and laundry baskets.
Support is usually in the form of florists
foam. Wire mesh
netting can be used as an alternative or wrapped around the foam to
provide extra support. Stems can also be stuck onto a pinholder.
Other items needed include florists
prongs, florists mastic
(a special tape), wire, water spray and decorative ribbon.
The choice of flowers for an arrangement depends on
availability, budget and customers taste. Ideally, the colour will
compliment the background setting. However, neutral creams and whites are
The design may be limited to one or two types of flowers, but
in mixed displays, a range of flower shapes, textures and sizes give added
dimensions to arrangements.
Foliage is as important as flowers. Berries, seed pods,
grasses – even leafless branches – can be used to great effect in a
If the arrangement is to occupy a particular space, this will
have a major effect on the shape of the display. It should comfortably
fill a space without it looking cramped or overwhelmed. The viewpoint must
also be established; a table display for instance is visible from all
sides whereas a mantelpiece or wall display is only seen from the front.
There is a trend towards unusual or informal arrangements,
and here imagination and creativity flourish.
An unusual flower or piece of foliage may spark off an idea
for an arrangement. A perfect lily for example may form the focal point
around which the florist will work. Alternatively, an interesting base
such as twisted bark or a wrought iron frame may be taken as a starting
A base does not have to be used. A lovely array which looks
deceptively simple is a ‘tied bunch’. This is arranged by building up
a bunch in one hand by adding flowers and foliage with the other.
Finally, big is not necessarily best. A small posy can be just as stunning as a large array of flowers. It is up to the individual to use the material at hand to the greatest possible advantage.
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