Flower Arranging by Gayle Shell

My Hostas have put on a wonderful display this year, and wandering around the garden I was struck by the vibrant colour of the leaves of ‘Gold Standard’. It inspired me to create this design with other yellow foliage and flowers from the garden.

Last month I talked about the cooling effect of a blue and white colour scheme. Yellow is pure sunshine and is generally acknowledged to be a cheerful colour, but as with any colour there are warm and cool versions and any number of different shades.

I have tried to gather contrasting shades of yellow from Ochre through to cream.

The container is a little white ceramic Dolphin. These were very popular when I first started to flower arrange in the 70s, and everyone had one except me! I finally obtained two. One when a friend was paring down her collection of containers, and another
from a bring and buy stall. It suddenly seemed appropriate to this design which is entirely inspired by the garden.

The bowl was filled with approximately a quarter of a block of foam, held in place with a plastic pinholder, and the plant material was conditioned by standing in cool water for two hours.

I kept the outline low and created a vaguely crescent shape with yellow-green foliage of a Summer Jasmine, stems of Buddleia weyeriana and a variegated Ivy. I added the Hosta leaves close to the centre and began to fill in with large yellow Ivy leaves, short pieces of yellow Privet, and some flowers from the Tansy plant. All my yellow roses are over, so a few Chrysanthemums gave a strong shape in the centre of the design. I added the seed heads and last remaining flowers on the stems of Sisyrinchium for interest, and finally a couple of leaves from the Hosta Undulata.

I topped up the water regularly, and the finished arrangement lasted a full week bringing a splash of sunshine from outside and into the house.

A couple of fruitful hours tidying my Variegated Buxus created a large bag of clippings, and rather than throwing them away I decided to make a topiary tree.

Flower Arranging pic 5

These were once very fashionable at the entrance of churches for Weddings and Flower Festivals, but smaller versions make pleasing table centres for parties and special occasions.

Begin with a plastic pot which will fit into your chosen container, you will need to fill this with plaster, into which you can insert your ‘trunk’. Make sure it stands straight as the plaster is setting. (Pic 1 below) Add a soaked piece of foam (not too much, your foliage will create the finished size of the tree top). I add a few rubber bands to the top of the trunk to stop the foam slipping (Pic 2 below). Now place the pot in the chosen container. This will ensure that the scale and

proportion of the finished tree is pleasing.

Create the tree by pushing lengths of foliage into the foam until it is covered, leaving space for the flowers. Do condition it well first. Keep the rounded shape fairly symmetrical. You can create a tightly clipped effect but I prefer it more natural (Pic 3 below).

Next add the flowers. Cut them shorter than the foliage. I have used daisy Chrysanthemums and white Roses for contrast and a link to the white Compote. I have used the smaller flowers and the buds of the Chrysanthemum to create a natural look (Pic 4 below).

Now the plaster needs to be disguised. A little moss will do the trick, or try glass pebbles, coloured sand or gravel.

To add to the party feel I have used traditional ribbon streamers. Three will give movement to the design, and these are mounted on stub wires and pushed into the foam at the bottom of the treehead (Pic 5 see left).

Try not to put pressure on the foam whilst creating the top. It might
slide down the trunk or even split in two. A small towel placed on
the plaster will collect any drips from the foam as you work.

The tree can be watered by spraying regularly, and once created the mechanics can be used over and over again.

This is a very Summery tree but think of fruit (real or artificial) replacing the flowers in Autumn, or a combination of Holly or Conifer and baubles or ribbon bows for Christmas.

I always keep the bare trunk in the pot handy. I find my students enjoy creating trees at all times of the year, and a larger scale pair wait in the shed for those Weddings and Festivals.

Gayle Shell

Flower Arranging pic 1
Flower Arranging pic 2Flower Arranging pic 3Flower Arranging pic 4Flower Arranging pic 5