Friday, 9 December 2016

Local Love | Garden Party Flowers shows how to create a 3 different arrangements

The tape grid helps keep the stems in place when working with this tall cylindrical vase.
Vancouver continues to grow as an urban city on the Pacific West Coat; however, despite the increasing concrete towers, Vancouverites remain grounded and appreciate the simple beauties of nature. Florists across the lower mainland help us appreciate the stunning flowers and foliage that we take for granted in our world. Many florists in Vancouver have made it a point to use as many local and seasonal stems in their arrangements to help us realize that our concrete towers cannot stop the natural beauty!

I personally have always been mesmerized by the simple elegance of flowers, which is apparent by my equal ratio of flowers to food to clothing pictures on my Instagram. Whenever I receive a bouquet of flowers, I am overjoyed because even on the toughest of days, a beautiful floral arrangement always manages to make me smile. That is why I love having a vase of flowers in my entranceway, so when if I come home from a rough day, my spirits are instantly lifted as soon as I see the stunning floral arrangement. Unfortunately, I always manage to ruin the stunning design of the arrangement when I transfer the bouquet to a vase. In many instances, the stems are too long, so I usually end up disassembling the bouquet to trim down the stems.

When Amy, the fabulous owner of Garden Party Flowers invited me to come learn about floral arrangements with one of her florists, I just could not pass the opportunity up! I had the pleasure of working with the florist Estefani who walked me through the basics of flower arrangement and design by using three different examples. The coolest part, this talented lady used the exact same flowers and greens for each of the three arrangements. 

A few general guidelines to keep in mind when arranging flowers:

1. Trim the stems according to the height of the vase, but also the style of the design. 
2. Remove any leaves that hit below the opening of the vase. Leaves touching the water creates more bacteria in the water; therefore, shortening the lifespan of the flowers. 
3. Do not feel hesitant in removing the outer petals if they look wilted. The outermost flower petals are called guard petals since they protect the inner part of the flower. These and any other wilted petals can be removed. 

Before tackling any flower arrangement, consider the "style" and viewpoint of the design. The style will affect the type of flowers and greens she uses while the viewpoint affects the placement of the flowers as well as the overall shape of the design.

So many varieties of eucalyptus! 
There are three general styles that arrangements are categorized as. Either compact/modern, which is a structured look with hardly any greens or a wild and modern style that is a little more compact and has some greens to give it a wild look. The last and more common style I see in Vancouver is the wild look, which uses flowers and greens that are more textured with less structure. 

For viewpoint, the florist is conscious of where the flowers and greens are positioned.  An arrangement that will be in a middle of a dining table is going to be designed to be viewed from all around; however, if the flowers are going to be put in a corner, the back will only be greens as it is not going to be viewed from the back. 

I gravitated towards Garden Party Flowers’ arrangements as I love the aesthetic of the wild look and a lot of their work falls into that category. The Wild Look is a current trend for flower arrangements and I can only imagine it growing in popularity in Vancouver. I love the use of different types and interesting foliage layered with several varieties of flowers. There is a beautiful flow and story to a wild styled arrangement.


Cylindrical Vase | TAPE GRID

I was genuinely amazed by the number of stems Estefani managed to fit into this single arrangement. When designing in any vase, you begin with the base greenery followed by the more interesting foliage greens and lastly building layers by adding in the flowers, while keeping in mind where the focal point will be.
For this arrangement, we used Salal as the base green. Salal leaves are commonly used as a base green by florist because they give the arrangement lots of volume and help keep the flowers in place. After the Salal, she used a number of foliage greens beginning with beginning with three types of eucalyptus (seeded, dollar and feather), followed by an antique Hydrangea, Italian Ruscus and Sedum. I really liked the feather eucalyptus because it gave the arrangement a nice flow down the side of the vase. Unlike the base greenery, Salal, you get to be a lot more creative with the foliage placement and the shape of the arrangement starts to become visible.

The flowers are always the best part and what makes the arrangement pop! Estefani actually entrusted me with the task of selecting the flowers from the walk-in cooler; however, she eventually had to step in as I was marching out of the door with every single flower that I could manage to grab. Keeping with a white and pink colour palette, the final arrangement used Dahlias, Ranunculus, Garden Roses, Spray Roses, Lisianthus, Sedum, and Snapdragon.  

My all-time favourite flowers are peonies [so basic of me!]. Unfortunately, they are not in season at this time; however, when those voluptuous pink buds are in season, I basically go on a season long binge. Peonies are stunning and I can never get enough of them!

A good flower arrangement has balance and creates a flow for the viewer to follow with their eyes. This is achieved by using an odd number of stems for each type of flower or foliage. Some florists most commonly use three stems of the same kind of flower; however, for a more creative approach, it could be two stems of the same flower and one stem of a different flower. The three stems are placed within the vase in a triangle formation or a pentagon if five stems are used. 

By using an odd number of stems, it helps create layers within the arrangement and helps you determine the spaces and alignment of the where the next triad of stems should be placed. Estefani also focused on having the colours of the flowers contrast and complement each other. This is what makes floral arranging fun because it’s all about creating art piece and bringing it to life.

On a wide rimmed vase like the cylinder one used for this arrangement, florists will sometimes use a technique referred to as the grid taping. Using scotch tape, a simple grid is created over the opening of the vase. The goal is to create little spaces in which the stems can be slotted into. The grid helps keep the stems in place making it easier when making a floral arrangement. The florist also uses this to their advantage as they are able to position flowers at different angles and reposition the stems without shifting the rest of the design. Estefani recommends this for wider rimmed vases, as the smaller rimmed vases are able to hold the flowers in place themselves. 


Mason Jar 

The Mason jar is currently a huge trend for home decor and it would have been foolish of us to not use it for an arrangement. Unlike the cylindrical glass vase, the Mason jar is far shorter with a much smaller rim. To compensate for the smaller jar, Estefani excluded the base greenery, Salal, using only the more interesting foliage and flowers. The volume of the Salal would have overwhelmed the flowers in the small Mason jar. 

I always feel awful when I dismantle and discard parts of a gorgeous bouquet that a florist has worked hard to create, but ultimately, you want the flowers to be the focus with the unique foliage enhancing the design. As previously discussed, Estefani used an odd number of stems of each type of foliage and flower. Beginning with the foliage greens, she trimmed the stems to the height of where she wants them in the design by holding them up to the Mason jar at the angle she would be positioning the stem at. Therefore, the stems will not be all the same length; some will be short while others are longer this helps to create depth in the design.

From the three arrangements that Estefani created, the Mason jar was my favourite! Perhaps it is my inner blogger that is biased towards the Mason jar being used as a vase, but I think it had to do more with the overall aesthetic of the arrangement. The flowers stood tall and prominent while the foliage gave movement to the design. A good example is the feather eucalyptus and how it flowed down the side of the jar. A stunning example of the wild style by Estefani at Garden Party Flowers! 

The chicken wire helps keep the stems in place, but also increases surface area for more angled placement.
Scalloped Rimmed Pedestal Vase | CHICKEN WIRE

The pedestal vase with the scalloped edge rim was the most challenging vase Estefani used, but also happens to be her favourite, as she loves rustic unique vases. I learned a common florist's trick using chicken wire so the scalloped detail was not too obscured. Beginning with a small square of chicken wire, manipulate the piece into a dome that would fit snugly inside the vase thus increasing the surface area of the otherwise shallow vase. 

Unlike the Mason jar arrangement, where she created height by keeping the flowers and foliage upright, for this arrangement, Estefani took advantage of the chicken wire and positioned the stems at different angles. By having the flowers and foliage extend along the horizontal plane, you create an illusion of a fuller and larger arrangement. I loved the grandness of this design with the oval shape and strategic placement of the foliage and flowers. 


Remarkably, all three arrangements used the exact same flowers and foliage! Once we were done with the first cylindrical vase, we dismantled the arrangement and used the same stems for the next vase. Estefani is showed so much creativity by arranging three distinct designs from the exact same stems. 

When working with flowers, if you are unhappy with the placement of a stem, re-position it to a placement you like better. All florists do this at the end of every arrangement until they are content with the final look.  There is no one correct way when it comes to floral arrangements because it is a very subjective choice. 

I always want my flowers to retain their stunning beauty as long as possible. Garden Party Flowers suggest cleaning the vase and changing the water every two to three days, at this point it is also a good idea to re-cut the stems to keep them fresh. Another way to increase the lifespan of your flowers is to keep them in a cool environment. Flowers in a warmer environment, like by a heater or in direct sunlight, the opening of the buds is accelerated. 

It was such a pleasure to visit Garden Party Flowers' studio and getting to work with one of their many talented florists.  I honestly cannot wait to try and arrange my next bouquet in a vase using everything I learned. If there is anything else you are interested in learning in regards to flowers, leave it in the comments below! I know I want to learn how to make floral crowns and visit some local nurseries in the lower mainland, so let me know if you want more flowers! 

BYES

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