Anyone can plunk a handful of flowers into a vase and call it an arrangement, and in the past, this is what I have done. True, I had made some attempt to arrange the flowers attractively, but the results could at best be described as rustic or primitive. I wanted something a little more polished for my grown daughter’s birthday, and none of the arrangements on display at the grocery store really lit a fire under me. I remembered Debra Prinzing’s book Slow Flowers and the inspiring arrangements she had created. I thought it was time to break out of my comfort zone and take my arranging skills to the next level. Or attempt to, at least.
After perusing the bundled stems I chose a bunch of Dutch iris and a bunch of pale yellow carnations to set off the yellow in the iris. I knew I would need some filler and in absence of baby’s breath I settled on a bunch of solidago. (“That looks like goldenrod,” my husband said, glancing at my choices. “It is,” I replied. “Solidago is botanical Latin for goldenrod.” Many of my menfolk were astonished that a mere weed was selling in the florist’s department.) Now to do something with them!
To figure out what container to choose, I referred back to the q&a I had done with Debra, where she advised that you should use six to ten stems per inch of the container’s diameter. With my thirty stems that meant a container with a maximum diameter of five inches. I had a pretty bowl of that size that I had picked up on clearance at HomeGoods. I had a single two-inch floral pin frog that I had found at a craft store, similar to the one pictured. (In helping my mom pack up breakables in 2013, I had come across a cache of various pin and dome frogs that she let me have. But can I find them now? Nooo.) Fortunately, the frog seemed to be the perfect size for the bottom of the bowl. Ready or not, here I go!Starting with the iris, I carefully cut stems and inserted them into the frog, alternating with the carnations. After a while, I stepped back from my work and squinted, trying to evaluate it objectively. It looked like flowers on stilts, but maybe it would look better after I added more flowers. However, after inserting more stems, it became clear the proportion was not improving. I considered taking all the stems out and starting over, but, I reasoned, I liked them all where they were, they were just all too tall. So I got out my kitchen scissors and cut them all at the same time. I started to panic a little as I realized there was no turning back. I kept telling myself that the worst that would happen is twenty bucks’ worth of flowers would be wasted, but that really didn’t help my heart beat slower. Do or not do, that’s where I was at. I had hoped that once the flowers were cut, I could put them back into the frog exactly as they had been before, but, alas, they rolled around each other and got mixed up, and of course I didn’t think the new arrangement was as good as the old one. But part of me realized that aspiring for perfection would slow me down and not necessarily improve things, so I soldiered on. (“Just do it!” I admonished myself.) Finally it was time to fill in the empty spaces with the frothy solidago. I knew the frog should have been secured in place with floral putty, but I didn’t have any, so I had to hold the frog with one hand while I inserted with the other. And I found that the frog was filling up! After a while, it wasn’t a matter of deciding where a flower would look best, but finding an empty spot in the frog and deciding which stem to insert there. I inserted the final stem of solidago into the center so that it projected beyond the overall shape of the arrangement. I liked this asymmetrical look but my husband did not. I decided to let the birthday girl have the final say, and she voted to leave it as it was. What do you think? Does it add to or detract from the overall design?
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