Friday, October 16, 2009


I'm not so sure if this was a successful composition or not. 

I'd hoped to have more "oomph" in it or at least something to create weight in the center of this arrangement to better anchor it, but I ran out of ideas.  Maybe a chunky tuft of that funky fiber optic plant would have been nice stuffed in the mouth of the vase like a brushy Elizabethan collar.  It might have added to its sinister element (which suits the season).


  • Art glass vase
  • Potato Vine
  • Lycamachia
  • Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina)
  • Decorative gourds
I love fresh flowers and plants.  The simple beauty and awesome symetry of vegetables and fruit astound me (more on that in subsequent posts), but there are times when fudging it just plain makes sense -- like in the fall and winter when excellent fakes abound.  This takes arrangement (although feebly) takes advantage of tricks:

  1. The potato vine, when pulled from its happy spot in the garden tends to get all floppy so it's hard to imagine how it will eventually settle.  We know it will rally, so to help it along I gently wire it to a stake.  This forms the only vertical element.
  2. The "gourds" ain't real.  Nope.  You probably could tell by the photo, but maybe you didn't.  Did you?  Funny story: Recently my sisters and I were pondering how to prune a potted palm to "harvest" some fronds for an arrangement, pawing through the thing to select the fronds we wanted when, after a good 5 minutes of deliberation, we realized the plant wasn't real.  It was plastic. Really.  We did that. 
You can also fudge it a good deal for the holidays...but you probably figured that out already.  I routinely mix fresh and fake.  Again, more to come on that subject.

Sprouts:  Brussels sprouts were a minor player in my two last arrangements.  I wondered how they would hold up.  Report is in, they look fresh as the first day.  I briefly mused about cutting the tops off the sprouts to mimic ranunculus but thought they might discolor.  Something to explore.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


It all started with my son who suggested that I might like to do the flowers for his wedding this past September.  (When the photos come in, I'll try to post some.)  I suppose he remembered that I loved to put flowers in vases when he was a child.  He also likely remembers having to help weed my garden, something all three of my children were adept in avoiding! He knew I come from a family with a serious creative streak so, with the help of two of my intrepid sisters, we did put together quite a spectacular floral display for his wedding: three large arrangements for the ceremony, along with three bouquets for bride and bridesmaids and boutonni√®res for the groomsmen; and table arrangements and cake topper for the reception.

When I returned home, I decided to carry on.  This Saturday a trip to the local farmer's market yielded some smashing sunflowers which were inspiration to this arrangement. 

Elements that comprise the arrangement are:
  • Large decorative salad bowl
  • Sunflowers
  • Red-orange freesia
  • "Blackie" sweet potato vine
  • Asparagus fern
  • Dried wheat and seteria
  • Decorative gourds
  • Mini-pumpkins
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Dried fiber optic grass (scirpus)
  • Lycamachia
  • Baby pomegranate
It's an asymmetrical composition, which, although it is quite high, allows for being pushed to a corner of the table as I most often have only one or two folks for dinner. 

I also made a smaller version for the coffee table which contains many of the same elements: 
  • A wooden cigar box lined with a plastic container
  • Sunflowers
  • Dried wheat stalks and seteria
  • Dried fiber optic grass (Scirpus)
  • Heavenly bamboo (nandina)
  • "Blackie" sweet potato vine
  • Brussels sprouts 
Both arrangements contain materials from my yard.  Only the sunflowers and fresia were bought.  I am a big fan of looking at plant materials with new eyes...thinking about using the dry or spent plants and flowers as much as those in full bloom.  So when I needed something to hide the floral oasis, I found the dried fiber optic grass. 

It helps to have a few handy tools to put all of this together.  Wire and stakes allowed me to take tufts of the grasses and bundle them together to stake into the foam.  It also keeps the dried grasses up and out of the moisture so that, hopefully, they'll last a little longer.  The sprouts were impaled on small stakes to secure them to the foam as well.  I'm hoping to pull out the fresh plant material as they get wilty and nasty looking and plug in fresh.  I'll let you know how it all works out. 

I would be remiss in not acknowledging two important inspirations for this work.  The first is my sister Cathy, who sent me the second inspiration -- books on flower arrangements by the fabulous Paula Pryke.  She is both genius and artist.  Thank you to both these talented women.