Flower Arranging Step by Step with Gayle Shell

It has been all celebrations this Summer and it is good to enhance events with flowers. We all love them but are often unsure of how to ‘arrange’ them. There are lots of good books on the subject and joining your local Flower Club, see page 38 of the August issue, is a fun way to make new friends and learn about flower arranging.
Here are a couple of simple ideas that I used for the Jubilee by making them up in red, white and blue but both designs look good in other colour schemes and can be done at any time of the year using garden or bought flowers.
First a few basic tips. Always pick material, flowers and foliage, first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening when it is cool, has it ever been warm this Summer, and the flowers are full of water. Then give them a long drink in tepid water, overnight if possible. Do the same with bought flowers when you get them home. Cut a small amount from the bottom of the stems before putting them into water and always add the flower food which is generously provided by the supermarkets. It will prolong the life of the flowers and encourage tight buds to open.
I love to see a single variety of flower arranged in profusion in a suitable vase.
Peonies and Roses are a favourite at this time of year and there is chance to support British growers by buying Sweet Williams which have enjoyed a new popularity after the Royal Wedding. Being a Flower Arranger I usually work a little harder and that means some kind of ‘Mechanics’ to support the flowers and place them where I want them. This usually means using Floral foam which has to be soaked in deep, cool water, you can add flower food, for 60 seconds until it has sunk to the level of the water.
There are lots of other Mechanics you can use and I will talk about them in later articles.
For the two designs shown, the foam is cut to come only slightly above the rim of the container or vase.

Design A – shown above.
This is a design for the table and for the jubilee I used five blue Iris, ten white Roses and ten red Carnations.
I topped off the stepped design with Bear Grass sprayed gold but this is optional and I covered the oasis with Aspidistra leaves, also sprayed gold but any leaves or moss would work well.
I found a simple plant pot holder worked as a vase and filled it up to the top with wet foam and then inserted a small garden cane and arranged my flowers in groups of one colour and tied them to the stick with wool or string just below the heads, to keep them in place whilst I arranged the next group. Make sure the end of the stems are securely in the foam. Do leave space between each group of flowers to create a tiered effect. You can cover the string with coloured wool or ribbon. I also created this design in ‘silk’ flowers and it has been used several times this Summer and will be used again to celebrate the Olympics.

Design B – Cupcakes, shown right.

This design was inspired by the little pottery souffle dishes in the shops which I thought looked like cake cases but you will see from the photo that I have also used a bright coloured silicon case to a create smaller design. Fill the containers with wet foam and arrange a variety of flowers cut very short. If the short stems worry you remember the flowers will last much longer. You can add embellishments such as beads and ribbon etc. I used some small artificial butterflies. This is a way to use those mixed bunches where you get odd amounts of differing flowers and you can vary the size of the heads to pleasing effect.
I arranged the designs in groups on a low table so that they could be viewed from above and I also arranged them on cake stands to give the maximum effect. Some of my students used them for table arrangements for a Jubilee party and gave them away at the end. An idea for a Wedding.