Monday, June 18, 2012

The pastels of June

Easy modern designs

June, moon, spoon ran the old song, and pastel shades flood the gardens, flower stands, and flower markets.  Last week four students came to The Barns to create modern mass arrangements.  These contemporary designs are not your mother’s mass arrangements.  These focus on a strong container and bold blocks of color and texture.  Butterflies and bees would be harmed trying to fly through these designs! 

Materials were chosen because they offered contrasts of textures – shiny vegetables, lush bold peonies, feminine roses played against the floriferous busyness of hydrangea, the dark sheen of galax leaves.

In the demonstration design above, you see that the materials are kept in groups placed next to each other, rather than an open (those birds and butterflies again!) interspersed placement.  The solidity and boldness of the groupings balance the height and heft of the container, which is an important element of the design.

As with most things, the design reveals itself by the doing of it.  For first timers, there is a give and take to get the design to take shape.  It is fun to watch the moment when you can literally see the student ‘get it’ and start to have fun with it.  The simple verdigris 'copper' container – rather like a beaker – was filled with material (see cross section) and a shaped block of oasis put on the top.  It should sit well above the top edge of the container so stems may be placed at an angle.  The oasis can be taped to the container to keep it in place.  However I find either the tape is just where I want to put a stem or it shows on the container. Instead we used kitchen skewers, poked through the hydrated oasis into the oasis pieces that we used to fill the container.  Because the arrangement will be top-heavy, ‘ballast’ in the form of hydrated oasis, stones, gravel or sand will keep it from toppling over.

The angled materials disguise the rim so container becomes a seamless element of the whole design. The materials were purple allium, lavendar spider mums, crème de la crème roses, green peppers, celosia (the marvelous green brain coral looking material), hydrangea and galax leaves.  The visual weight of the massed materials balances the height of the container. 

Although all the materials supplied were the same, notice how different each one is. They did not have to use all the materials but most did.  To water the design, slip ice cubes between the stems at the top, they will melt into the oasis keeping it hydrated. 

Every kind of material is grist for the mill of this design.  The one above is simpler and made from the supermarket, in a slightly smaller container from Michael's.  This ceramic container is heavier so no need for so much 'ballast'.  I just plopped the oasis on the top.   Bunches of 3 peonies, 3 spider mums, 6 carnations plus 6 jalapeno peppers.  Happy designing….



  1. Love you blog, Just a question, were those buckets 8.5 inches or 11 or does it matter?

  2. Thank you, Nikki. Good eye - they are 8.75 inches with a 5" diameter at the top, but as you say it really doesn't matter. 11 inches would work too but you might want the bulk of the flowers slightly bigger. It is the proportion of the bulk of the plant material to the visual weight of the height of the vase. Have fun! Cheers, Susan