Flower Class: A Few Fresh Flowers & Some Simple Math

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IMG_1432You might have some beautiful roses left from Valentine’s Day, so here’s a simple way to showcase a few of the freshest ones. (Any flower stems would work if you don’t have roses.)

It’s also the perfect way for me to illustrate a wonderful design principle that you can use no matter what the occasion when you’re showing off whatever flowers you may have at hand.




It starts with a bud vase. This one is from IKEA, and I love the design because not only does it have raised glass “polka-dots” on the surface but also, practically speaking, it is wider at the base, which makes it more stable for holding up heavy-headed flowers.



Next, select the best-looking flower stems to use. You will find with this technique that as you showcase just a few beautiful blooms, you will be better able to appreciate the beauty in each individual flower.

As these tutorials progress, I will be giving detailed instructions on how to care for many individual types of fresh flowers, but since we are focusing on roses, here are a few tips for caring for them.

1) Always be sure to RE-CUT the flower stem before placing it in clean water. Cut it at an angle with a sharp knife, scissors, or clippers, so that more stem surface is exposed to take up fresh water. (This applies to ALL cut flower stems, not just roses.)

2) The outer petals of a rose tend to age fastest, so if you want your flower to look its best, all you have to do is take off the outermost petals that are looking worn. Hold each petal close to the base of the rose, gently pull in a twisting motion, and the petal should pop right off.

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3) Roses like to be kept in deep water, so make sure your container is as full as possible. If you can, change the water every 2-3 days to help your flower last longer.

So far, so good. It’s plain, simple and sweet. But we’re just getting started and there’s much more fun to be had.


IMG_1409Now it’s time for me to illustrate a basic principle of design that you can use all the time, as I do. It’s amazingly simple, and yet the impact is dramatic. Whenever you have created a single flower arrangement of any shape, size, flower types, etc. and want to fill a bigger space – you can easily expand its power by doing one simple thing:


Just DUPLICATE the same exact arrangement (in this case, a single rose in a bud vase) several times – and look what happens!

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You haven’t done anything except repeat your design multiple times and instantly the size and impact of your creation increase dramatically. It’s SO easy, almost no effort, and very little expense.

Another plus to this type of designing is that when you have several separate parts to your display, the versatility of its shape becomes much greater, because you can move around the individual containers like building blocks. You can string the separate vases in a line down the center of a long table, or you can group them in a circle to fit a smaller space. Or arrange them any way that pleases you.

I want to briefly touch on another principle I will be referring to frequently in my classes, the concept of “negative space.” In these photos, notice that there is space between each of the repeated vases. This is called “negative space” and here’s what you need to know about it:

When you are creating any kind of composition, the human eye and mind see everything associated with that composition as one visual whole. So, when you expand the design by adding more parts to it, the visual boundaries of the arrangement increase to the outer edges of your materials – and it is perceived as one larger whole, even though some of the area is literally, space between objects. It’s a very intriguing concept, and one professional floral designers use often.

Adding Another Layer of Fun:


In this photo, you will see that I used a beautiful paisley neck scarf as a table covering, an idea I mentioned in my recent post: A Table for your Valentine. I scrunched the scarf on my tabletop around the vases, and its rich, muted colors set off the vibrant raspberry color of the roses, adding another layer of visual interest, an effect that I love.

Another simple, fun way to add even more impact is to dress up the necks of some of the bud vases with a strand of ribbon.

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Here, I show 3 different ribbons as examples: a narrow pink satin, a silver mesh ribbon, and a brightly colored stripe. See how each different ribbon adds its own unique character to enhance your simple, beautiful work of art.

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As you practice the art of attending to every detail, be sure to adjust the ribbon loops and trim off the ends of each bow at an angle for a finished look.

Keep in mind, as you review all these possibilities, that every single detail you choose to add will change the nuances of your creation and make it uniquely your own. I can’t say it often enough: YOU are the one in charge of this and every art project you undertake, and that’s why playing with every detail can be so much fun!

See how beautiful the finished display can look.


I added a scattering of flat glass marbles to the scarf, as well as a few votive candles for that always-magical touch. Please just be very sure the candles are in glass holders and that the flames are away from any dangling ribbons. Even better, consider using some LED flameless candles to create the same effect; they come in an ever-increasing variety and are available almost anywhere.


Let’s go back for a moment to my post on potting flowers so you can see this principle of multiplying a single design using totally different flowers to achieve the same effect.

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Here’s a potted primrose I planted in a teacup from HomeGoods. It’s adorable just as it is – and what a sweet gift it would make. But repeat that same little arrangement a couple more times – and all of a sudden, you have a much more impressive presentation. That’s my kind of math!

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Now it’s your turn  to go out and find some beautiful flowers to play with. 

2 thoughts on “Flower Class: A Few Fresh Flowers & Some Simple Math

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