How To Arrange Flowers Like An Old Master's Painting
June 14, 2018
OHHHHH booouuuy! Am I ever having fun. The perennial garden is producing the most beautiful flowers and greenery already and it's not even summer yet. My Dahlias are blooming very early. Probably because I grew them in the house prior to putting them out in the cutting garden. I have always loved the carefree look of the paintings of artists from long ago featuring billowing floral arrangements. Who doesn't love still life paintings of luscious, voluptuous vases overflowing with all sorts of color and texture. That was the time when a gardener would gather up a little of this and a little of that and give to the lady of the house to create a masterpiece floral arrangement.
I am going to show you how to accomplish that masterpiece look and just how simple it is.
First, I hunted down anything blooming or textural that I could get my hands on. I left the orange poppies and the yellow lilies behind, not working with this palette I'm planning right now. Sticking to the purples, pinks and lavenders for this masterpiece. I walked around the yard and clipped Grape Vines, a little Dappled Willow branch, (I have fallen in love with this bush and it's blush off-white markings on the leaves!) and three stems from my Blue Angel Hosta.
Hostas are incredibly valuable in a cutting garden. So much you can do with them. You can line a vase with a couple to hide the stems, cuff a bouquet, or work them into a focal point . It is endless the color variations of greens, yellows and blues that are available. I planted a shade garden this year with over 15 different varieties, and I'll be enjoying these sweet little (easy to grow) gems for years to come.
Here is the assortment of plants that I was able to clip. Put directly into room temp water as soon as you have cut the stems. Let them soak up lots of hydration for about an hour.
Starting at the left, Grapevines, Dappled Willow, Foxglove, Hosta, Clematis Vine, Scabiosa, Dahlias, Salvia, Lamb's Ear and some Japanese Fountain Grass.
Now, it is time to pick out a vessel to hold these delicious items!
I like to use some sort of footed container to further carry out that old world look. Choose a container that has lots of room in the opening if you have lots of flowers. I pretty much hold the greens and flowers in my hand together and eyeball the amount of room that they would need standing straight up and multiply by 3. It seems to work for me, by the time you angle and tangle things together, you will use up all that space.
I chose this large milk glass piece from my collection. The opening is about 6" wide, lots of room for my armful of treasures.
Next important step is to tape a grid work across the top of the vase. This will keep the flowers and greenery in place. I crisscrossed it twice each direction, vertically and horizontally, with simple clear gift wrapping tape. I added a little pinch of Miracle Grow that I had so you might be able to see how I did this, also great for the flowers. Hoping that the photo helps you to do the taping.
Start with a few of your largest flowers, they will be your focal point. They don't have to be centered, a little crooked is really the best way to start. You can re-position as you go. I chose two dahlias, two foxglove and three of the hosta leaves. Looks funny, doesn't it?
Just relax, it will be beautiful!
Then add and fill in empty spaces with more greenery. In this case I added the grapevines and the dappled willow branch. This is where you can drape and angle items to suit your taste. Nothing should be symmetrical here at all.
I know it still looks weird. Trust me on this. Keep going and don't question yourself, plop things here and there, be free!
THE FINISHING TOUCH
Take flowers in bunches and stick them in empty places. Here I did this with the Salvia and the Scabiosa. This will be make a stronger impact when smaller filler flowers are added this way instead of that horrible dot, dot, dot way of adding them. After that I stuffed every spot left with the Lamb's Ear. It helped to secure everything just perfectly. This is one of my favorite plants. The leaves are fuzzy like a bunny and the bonus is these vertical spires of little purple flowers peeking out of the tops. So sweet.
You can't have a masterpiece without any drama. Long blades of Japanese Fountain Grass was bundled up and tucked in a couple of spaces where I wanted to "WOW!" the piece. I also tucked in a bunch of Clematis and let it drip out of the vase. OHHHH.......So sexy.
I love designing this way, no rhyme or reason, no rules. I hate rules. It can really suck the creativity right out of you!
TADAAAA! DRUM ROLL PLEASE............
And the finished arrangement, so beautiful. It is really large, probably a yardstick wide and two feet tall. Perfect for a buffet, or to grace a large dining room table. A piece like this would be wonderful at a wedding reception with the guests' place cards surrounding it. Or, on the Grand Piano!
So, go out there, gather up a little of this and that, and have a try at it. You can do it! Do you have a garden to pluck from? If not, run up to the nearest grocery store, they always have a nice selection. Then go home and snip some wild vines and some shrubbery...............ha, don't let the neighbor see you taking a snip of theirs.
P.S. After just a couple days, I got tired of the hosta leaves heavy look, so, I pulled them out and added a clipping from my Japanese Maple instead! Plucked out the wimpy Dappled Willow and Grapevines, too, they did not hold up as I had hoped. Looks pretty sweet this way, too! Don't be afraid to pull out, adjust and change up flowers and greenery. You never know what a little change may do to your masterpiece floral arrangement...................here it is....................