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November 1999 Issue
Creating a Focal Point
by Jenny Wojcik
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Before you purchase flowers for your arrangement, give some careful thought to your budget, the overall look you want to achieve, and how long you want the arrangement to last. Flowers have varying life spans, so for information on a specific flower, check with your florist. The arrangement types below will help guide you in the buying process.

  • Elegant/Contemporary/Oriental Arrangements

    Use 1-5 flowers, all in the same color. Showy flowers like orchids, lilies, or peonies are best used here. Greenery should include large, flat leaves or tall dark green shoots. Accent with sticks. Flat dishes with frogs surrounded by clear marbles are excellent for this type of arrangement. Cut your flowers at varying heights ranging from very tall to very short. Place the tallest flower in the center, the next one to the right, the shortest one to the left of center near the bottom of the dish. Add leaves by filling in to the right and left of center, reserving one large leaf. This leaf should be self-pierced and wrapped over itself creating the look of a ribbon. To accomplish this, lay the leaf flat. Fold the stem end carefully up to within 1 inch of the top of the leaf and pierce it with its stem. Carefully loop the leaf over itself before placing it next to the shortest flower in the arrangement. Add sticks to accent the arrangements’ height, if necessary. Make sure the marbles cover the frog and that both are covered with water.

  • Round, Simple Arrangements

    Round arrangements should look good from any angle, and are popularly used for centerpieces or coffee table arrangements. Again, use an odd number of flowers, but in this instance the colors and types of flowers can be mixed. If you are looking for a casual arrangement, use various flowers and colors. For a more refined or upscale look, limit your color and flower choices to no more than two flowers, and preferably one (or two) colors. Vases can be used, but shorter dishes with a frog or floral brick make a broader, bigger looking arrangement. On a piece of scrap paper, draw an inverted V. That’s the shape you want to achieve with your flowers. Again, we begin in the middle, by placing the tallest flower there. Cut the next group of flowers slightly shorter, and the last group slightly shorter still. Work in a circular pattern, placing all the flowers first. Don’t worry that they look skimpy! You’ll fill in with greenery and/or babies breath. Now as you fill in with greenery, start at the bottom. You need to completely cover the rim of the container and to do so, put your greenery in flat, but face up! This will take about 5-7 pieces of greenery. Work your way to the top, filling in all the bare spots with a combination of greens and babies breath. Voila!

  • Rectangular Arrangements

    These are probably the easiest to put together, while looking more difficult than they really are. First, select your flowers based on the final feeling you want your arrangement to have. Country casual might include a selection of Daisies, Brown-eyed-susans, and Sunflowers. A more modern look might include something from the lily family or even carnations in a unified color way. The trick here is to use floral bricks. I personally like to use trays for this type of arrangement, because they hold the floral brick securely and mimic the ultimate shape of my arrangement. Select a variety of greenery for filler, since the greenery will be a predominant part of the arrangement, and will help you establish the shape. Before cutting any flowers, decide how long you want the arrangement to be. A floral brick may be 10 inches long, and when you add 7 inches of greenery, your overall size is 17 inches.

    See? This isn’t rocket science after all.

    For these simple yet elegant arrangements, add the greenery stems on the bottom, creating a “base” for your flowers. Add the flower stems from the middle out, just like before, and follow what I’ll call a clockwise pattern for placing the buds. Noon, 3 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 7 o’clock, and 9 o’clock. Fill with greenery or small buds.

Now that we’ve looked at various shapes, let’s think about some unique “ingredients” in our flower medley. Your ingredients and containers can be as unique as you are, if you allow your creative juices to take over. A stunning centerpiece can be as simple as a combination of water, pebbles or stones/marbles, fresh fruit and a few blossoms. Start with a perfectly clean fishbowl. Place colored marbles or stones in the bottom for stability, then add your fresh fruit, building it up the sides. Depending on the look you’re after, you might choose plums, oranges, limes, lemons – you name it. Fill the bowl pretty full, adding just the blossom part of your flower by tucking them in individually among the fruit. Make sure your blossoms face out and that the arrangement is exactly as you want it before adding your water.

If you want a monochromatic look, use lemons, daisies, sunflowers etc. all in keeping with a yellow theme. Try adding a tall candle to the middle of the bowl and filling in with fruit and flower blooms. Make it up as you go!

Nature provides us with a plethora of organic items we can use in our flower arrangements. We’ve already mentioned twigs, sticks and rocks, but that’s only the beginning. For a more oriental feel, use less flowers and more natural elements like wood, large stones and pebbles.

The most unique thing I’ve even done as a centerpiece? Fill a wooden trough or a tray with sod (yes, grass). In the center, add 3 small clay potted plants (herbs are nice!). Then “plant” some candles in the sod, and you have a distinctive arrangement that’s sure to catch some attention. This is also great with small fishbowls filled with water, floating candles, and a few of your favorite buds (real or silk!). You can hide rough edges with more organic material like moss.

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