Despite being a florist and having a wide array of flowers at my fingertips, when it comes to having flowers in the home my personal taste often tends to lean towards a vase containing one singular flower type, en masse. Imagine a heap of drooping tulips, bushy branches of spring lilac, or even just a bunch of dried roadside grasses. You can create instant impact, with minimal effort. Maybe it’s the old ‘shoemakers son always goes barefoot’ situation.
But for very special meals, or just to celebrate spring after months of grey, sometimes you need to pull out all the stops. Creating a mixed flower arrangement for a table centre means understanding some basic mechanics, working with multiple textures, and creating a more nuanced colour palette. By knowing a few technical tips, and choosing your flower materials slightly more deliberately I think creating a mixed flower arrangement is actually pretty achievable, even for a beginner.
A bountiful spring lunch was the inspiration for this design. Often it’s easiest to start with one flower variety, whatever speaks to you at the time. I was inspired by the peachy daffodils, and went from there with my colour palette.
Using multiple tones of one colour creates more flow and is softer on the eye visually. You want to include various textures, such as woody structured stems, fluffy fillers, focal blooms with presence, and delicate wispy floaters.
Foliage is often helpful to create depth, but you don’t want necessarily want to overcrowd with green. Remember to condition your flowers before you begin, by removing any leaves on the stems, and cutting the bottom on a sharp angle to allow them to drink.
Flowers used here are: pieris, spirea, ranunculus, roses, daffodils, dicentra and poppies.
Vase and Mechanics
Choosing the correct vase shape is very important, as it dictates the shape of the final arrangement. Here I have gone with a low and chunky vase, with enough visual weight to ground the materials, as I have chosen a lot of full round flowers.
Next I prepare a small piece of chicken wire, and shaping it into a rough ball, place this into the vase. I use floral tape across the top to secure. The chicken wire helps to hold the stems in place, but still allows some movement. Fill with water and now your ‘grid‘ is prepared and ready for flowers.
Starting with the woody structured stems, I began to place the pieris and the spirea. The pieris had a lovely droop to it, and I allowed each piece to fall naturally. These buds had dark green leaves as well, which help ground the design visually and also help to keep the grid for the stems to follow.
The spirea was more upright, and helped to create the overall outer shape. You don’t have to create a symmetrical design, look at each stem and seek out the twisted and shapely branches and accentuate these in the top of the arrangement.
Next I added the focal roses, low and clustered. Grouping flowers gives more impact and looks more natural. Lots of people swear by groups of three, but I quite like groups of two, as long as they are staggered in height and depth.
Slowly begin to fill in with your more fluffy and textured flowers, like the daffodils. Finally adding in the leggy floater flowers, like ranunculus and poppies, these add an airiness to the arrangement, and allow some movement within the design, showcasing the twisty stems. These also help to create negative space, so try not to crowd these taller stems.
Think about how these various flowers grow naturally, and try to mimic this to achieve a less forced final design. Remember to step away from your design while you work, and look at if from other angles. Always hold your stems parallel to the vase before you cut, as you can trim them shorter if you choose, but you can’t add stem back on!
Enjoy holding each flower as you work, see how one variety appears next to another, and watch how their colours interact within the design.
Images: Silkie Lloyd at the beautiful The Forge.
Erin Trezise-Wallace has been our Sisterhood florist since the very beginning. Bringing her talent and knowledge of flowers to teach classes on Ikebana, flower crowns and informal arrangements at our retreats and events.
Erin effortlessly combines her love of flowers and design, working as a floral designer.
Colour and form come together as she creates ephemeral bouquets and arrangements amongst styled tablescapes, always inspired by the seasons.
Originally from Canada, Erin now lives in Bristol with her husband and son, and enjoys country walks, small dogs, and the sea.