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How to Make a Garden Style Flower Arrangement

A question that I get often asked is how to make an organic, ‘garden style’ floral arrangement. With perennials starting to burst into bloom in our gardens it felt like a good time to share my simple formula for making a beautiful loose floral arrangement. This can be made using materials foraged from your own garden or flowers purchased. In both cases I do recommend cutting some of your own branches to give your arrangement a more dramatic look. Read below for my step by step directions for making your own garden style floral arrangement.

1. Set Up Your Mechanics

Preparing your vase is the first step to making a garden style floral arrangement. I like to use a combination of chicken wire formed into a ‘nest’ and floral tape in a grid on the top of the vase. These two methods together help hold the stems in a floral arrangement in place while still maintaining a loose look. Without these mechanics it can be difficult to keep your stems in the location that you want. If you are working with a clear vase, omit the chicken wire and just use the tape. I prefer to use opaque vases for this reason (the chicken wire is super helpful!). Non-traditional items like food bowls, pitchers, or old jugs all work to make a garden style floral arrangement.

  1. Cut a square of chicken wire and wrap the chicken wire into a messy ball and form what I call a ‘nest’. The holes created by the chicken wire are what is going to help hold your stems in place as the stems slide into the holes. If you squish your chicken wire ball too tight your stems will not have any openings to go into so be careful to just gently compress your chicken wire ball. You want the ball of chicken wire to fill your vase significantly and be about as wide as the diameter of your vase. If you find that the ball of chicken wire you have made is too small for your vase you can make a second ball and add it in. If the ball you make is too large then you can simply cut the piece of chicken wire down. The size of chicken wire square you initially cut will depend on the size of your vase. I suggest you start with a square about 14″x14″ in size and go from there!
  2. Place your chicken wire nest into your vase and fill your vase with water.
  3. Ensure that the rim of your vase is completely dry and create a grid on top using tape. This adds another layer of structure for your arrangement and, if you are working with a more shallow vessel like a bowl, it will help hold your chicken wire in place (otherwise it can pop up when it gets heavy from holding all the stems). Floral tape is best for this and it is worth having on hand if you enjoy floral projects. Regular tape will work if you just ensure the vase surface you are sticking it to is completely dry.

2. Place the Greens

Adding your greens first will create the base for your flowers – the greens set the shape of your arrangement and also make it easier for your flowers to stay in place because they will be supported by the greens. I like to take my time and make sure that I am creating a form that I will be happy with overall. Position your greens so that they spread in all directions. I tend to like to use my longest pieces on either side (kind of creating a v-shape as you can see above) and use shorter branches at the front and throughout the middle. Making sure you use different heights is what will make your arrangement more interesting. Feel free to cut whatever branches you have at your disposal to create your base of greenery. I used mulberry branches from the only small tree we have on our property here but I love to use beech, hornbeam, and maple, too.

A nicely shaped greenery base means a nicely shaped finished arrangement and one thing to bear in mind is that it usually takes more greens than you think you will need to make a full arrangement! My goal is always to make the arrangement look nice enough with just greens that I would be happy to display it in my home without any flowers.

3. Set your Anchor

I always like to start with one flower that will act as the anchor for the arrangement and tend to start with a fairly large, if not the largest, bloom. I place this one right on top of the lip of the vase. As you add your other flowers you will see how having this one bloom down low really adds dimension to your arrangement. Ensuring that you are adding flowers at different heights and at different dimensions in all directions (not just up and down but flowers that stick out further than others in the front too) is what will give you a dynamic arrangement.

4. Further Define Your Shape with Blooms

You’re ready to add your flowers! Start by adding your largest blooms first. Use these blooms to further accentuate the shape you created with your greens. As you can see, I have placed 4 additional peonies, all at locations that follow the shape of the greens.

5. Fill it Out with Flowers

Add in your other flowers now. Let the flowers that you previously placed act as your outermost ‘shape defining’ flowers and all flowers that you add afterwards should be within the boundaries that they set. Make sure that these flowers still have lots of dimension. See how some flowers are standing out further than others and some are tucked in behind? That’s what you want!

Use this formula to create beautiful seasonal floral arrangements using what you have in your garden or pick up at your local flower shop or farm!

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