September 30, 2011

the cutting patch series: flowers in vases and a cracking new book

Woahh, after ten posts in the friday Cutting Patch series, this is the very last one (although  some lovely florist friends have been kind enough to say they might share their insider floral knowledge on some guest posts here at Wild Acre over the next couple of weeks which is very exciting!).

Today, following last friday's post on creating hand-tied bouquets, I just wanted to cover how to make a pleasing vase full of flowers in a bit more detail. Sometimes you will be able to hand-tie a bouquet as I described in the previous post, and simply place it in a vessel with only a few minor tweaks, but it can be easier to place the blooms, one at a time, directly into the vase, and this can give a lovely airy, loose feel to the arrangement. Choose blooms for their colour, shapes and longevity (remember the no-pollen tip?), and don't forget that foliage is fantastic both for the look of the arrangement and the framework it offers, supporting the flower stems. Make sure each stem has a fresh, slanted snip and all the lower leaves have been stripped.

Once you have picked your jug or vase (square ones are hard, ones that curve in at the neck help support the flowers), picked and conditioned your flowers and foliage and got your scissors close at hand, you are ready to start arranging your flowers. Deep breathe, relax the shoulders!

I usually start with the foliage as these strong stems, placed firmly to the base of the vase, will support the flowers  and placing your bride and bridesmaid blooms (remember them?) securely becomes easier. I usually then place my bride flowers in next, the stars of the show. Remember to consider whether your vase will be in the centre of a table or near a wall, as this will determine whether 360 degrees will be on view or whether one side will be hidden and wall-facing. Like a flower bed by a wall or hedge, if the vase is going to be placed with one side facing a wall, then it makes sense to have the tallest stems near the back of the display.

It really is a matter of personal taste, but I don't like my blooms in rows or entirely symmetrical, better to go for differing heights and in uneven numbers. The bridesmaids, or filler flowers, can then to in to complement the bride flowers, again different heights and try not to crowd neighbouring flowers, give each its space and place, (I often fail here, cramming too much loveliness in!). One little tip, it is often tempting when using garden flowers to incorporate branched stems, and while this isn't "wrong" it does make removing or re-placing stems a nightmare as others get caught up and pulled out of position. There is no shame in changing your mind and moving stems about or even starting over, just remember to walk away at some stage!! Standing back now and again and turning the vase around all really helps assessing how it is shaping up. Some pretty foliage around the vase lip can transform how an arrangement looks, as can interesting higher storey branches and blooms because both provide silhouettes which draw the eye and create gorgeous shapes. As you can see from the photo below,  I have a real weakness for airey grasses and seedpods in this upper storey, I think they add a brilliant, slightly wayward, wild look.

Finally, can I point you towards a new book to keep the inspiration flowing through the colder months and keep you excited about your cutting patch next Spring?

This book is the newly published, hot-off-the-press, Vintage Flowers, Choosing, Arranging, Displaying by Vic Brotherson. For sheer, gasp-for-breath inspiration as well as lots of very user-friendly, practical advice, this is your baby. With Sarah Raven's, Grow Your Own Cut Flowers in one hand and this new book in the other, you really are set with the info you need to get growing and creating beautiful bouquets and vasefuls of flowers. For a fantastic in-depth review of Vic Brotherson's book, go here, and for a great interview with her, go here.

I really hope this course has been enjoyable and useful, it has been a lot of fun to put together. I'd love to know how your cut flower ventures go in the future! 


  1. Another beautiful bouquet Belinda! I received the book by Vic Brotherson by mail this week and wasn't dissapointed. The floral arrangements are amazing!!!

    Wish you a happy weekend! It will probably be as beautiful in the UK as in Holland! Lucky us :-)

    Madelief x

  2. Time has flown by and I want more!

    Lots of bachelor's buttons coming up, some nigella and maybe a few other things here and there. Will thin in a week when I return from vacation. And, then, I think, plant some of the left over seed in "squares" here and there.

    Happy weekend.

  3. Funny you should mention it, I'm awaiting my copy as we speak!! Can't wait, fingers crossed for tomorrow for a spot of weekend reading. x

  4. I knew nothing of this book until right this second!

    Now I'm off to Amazon.

    I can't speak for other florists but I have no idea what anyone else could add to what you have already told us.

    Beautiful arrangement, beautifully explained.

    Love from the cold, grey state of Virginia.

    xo Jane

  5. Hi Belinda,
    You know I am a fan of you and your blog. So I was so happy to see that you linked to my blog and my review of Vintage Flowers. Thank you so much!
    Your series of posts on cut flowers is terrific. Very good and informative.
    Ingrid xx

  6. Nothing can 'beat' a bouquet of wild flowers!
    Just simply beautiful.