Creation Of A Wild Garden Style Spring Floral Arrangement

WORDS: Kathryn Cronin PHOTOS: Ricky Bache
Even for flowers up North, spring has officially sprung. Despite the cold wind, my daffodils are finally flowering, and even my tulips might appear in the near future. The biggest clue though was flying above as the swallows that make their home in our garage came swooping over me. Just the time to create my own spring floral arrangement.

After attending a spring flower workshop with Tammy from Wild Bunch, I am even more inspired to design and create wild garden style arrangements that are a reflection of the season and what I have growing in my garden. Determined to master that just picked from the garden look, I am have been practising this open loose style with further inspiration from the amazing designs of Jo Flowers and the Blue Carrot.

Vic Brothersons’ “Vintage Flowers” book was my container inspiration. I discovered this gorgeous read one-day while rummaging on the bottom shelf of the lovely local mobile library bus that visits our village. Much to the delight of my other half, I have been collecting vintage containers from our local antiques emporium (the marvellous Dagfields near Nantwich) ever since. Another post discusses other really useful floristry books.

I am proud to say the mechanics holding this large arrangement in my vintage cream scalloped window container consist of folded chicken wire; not a scrap of green oasis foam in sight. Obviously it is filled with water, and it is this, together with the stoneware container, that makes it quite heavy enough to support all those splendid towering and arching spires, just as I picked them from the garden.

What I learnt from Tammy is that you have to let each piece of foliage or floral “breathe”. Everything must have its own share of space. Her philosophy is that each is a piece of art in its own right. What I found happens when you give it space is truly magical.

After you’ve stopped panicking about covering your mechanics and the usual discipline that you’ve been taught, I started to look at each branch, to observe where it wanted to go and place it there so neither of us was battling with the other. Of course, I looked to keep to some sort of scale and proportion with my container but in a way, it almost doesn’t matter, as the material seems to dictate the line. No straight soldiers here mind you, every piece has been placed at an angle. What I’ve learnt over time is that it is critical to place material at the back. It is almost as important as that you see straight on as it gives a dimension that your eye looks for almost unconciuosly. Without it, the design looks flat and on a practical level, is often unbalanced both physically and aesthetically.

I used 5 different types of foliage (see materials list below). The nodding orange/yellow flowers of the berberis darwinii are an almost perfect match to the daffodils corolla. The other shrubs were chosen for their varying forms and pretty yellow flowering branches, quintessionally spring and seasonal. What I’ve seen from studying other designs is that it’s important to emphasise the curves and movement of your material, be that a low curving stem of a tulip to the taller arching branches both to the side and below the container. It softens the hard lines and it makes it more “gardeny”.

The other “learning” was to keep the centre of the arrangement low. It draws you in. I wanted to direct the viewers’ eye to the pheasants eye daffodil, then to the right where I placed the one and only orange tulip, in Paula Prykes’ words “my muse”. From here, I hoped your eye would then follow the very tall bachelors buttons (I adore that name).

I used my viburnum opulus low down to give depth, and truth be told my darlings, it covered the chicken wire quite nicely. The other flowers I kept low were my were my hellebores. They’ve seen their best but I needed a round-headed flower, and the purple helped to emphasise the tulips’ colour and the gorgeous purple leaved berbers.

I have combined colours that I would have hesitated to place together previously, but very much have been led by natures’ own palette.

I have combined colours that I would have hesitated to place together previously, but very much have been led by natures’ own palette. This seasonal palette is on the warm side of the colour wheel, bounded by the warm greens of the spring leaves and the purples of both the tulips and hellebores.

One final thought and it is this. Nature has both “light and dark”, and much as in life, with its joys and sorrows, I am coming to the view that one is unable to exist without the other. That is at the heart of this very British seasonal aesthetic or indeed any wild garden style arrangement.

Read more from Fierceblooms on the floristry blog including an article on spring birthday flowers.

Ingredients for a wild garden style spring floral arrangement:
x2 long branches of forsythia
x3 long branches of Berberis
x2 branches of Berberis Darwinii

x1 single orange tulip “brown sugar” or “Artist”
x3 double purple tulips – “black hero”
x3 tulip pale yellow
x2 branches Hellebore “heronswood purple”
x5 daffodils – something like “phesants eye”
x2 viburnum opulus

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