Floristry is my lifeblood. I started at the age of fifteen and have been a florist all my working life. During this time, I have seen many changes, not in the blooms themselves but in how they are presented. The presentation is what floristry is all about. 

When first started, I made a bouquet by arranging loose cut flowers on a sheet of waxed striped paper, covered in cellophane, secured with staples and tied at the bottom with a fancy bow. One of the first jobs I learnt to do was make those bows…hundreds of them. I would often take home the rolls of ribbon and sit in front of the TV, making bags and bags filled with bows.

The more modern way to make bouquets is called a hand-tied bouquet, which could be all-round or front-facing. Both methods are made with a spiral effect; this leaves each stem to have its own line in the bouquet. The preparation in making a bouquet is to have all the flowers cut, cleaned of foliage from the water level down and graded for size.

You start by holding three focal flowers (or foliage) and building your bouquet from the middle out, spiralling the stems in the same direction, so your hand gathers the spiralled stems allowing the blooms to fan out into a bouquet. As you are spiralling, you keep an eye on the visual and actual balance, the colour harmony, and dominance areas. You are using all the time design principles and elements. 

When arranging flowers into a vase, there are several different mediums you can use. Years ago, we arranged into sphagnum moss. This was more suited to woody stems, so many flowers were wired in to make them sit correctly in the design. Nowadays, we use a product called oasis (green foam that absorbs 100% of its own weight in water). Its easier to arrange in but not the best environmentally friendly product. 

Once you place the stems in the oasis, they are there to stay, so it’s easier than a hand-tied as there is no movement. You arrange into the oasis with the same design principles: focal, balance, colour, movement, grouping, area of dominance etc. Don’t forget your container becomes part of your arrangement.  

The best way to start is to arrange the foliage first, then add your flowers, making sure you have all the oasis covered. You can also use wire mesh; this just holds the stems in place and much better for the environment. Have a go yourself and create something special using your favourite blooms.

Sheryl Watkin
Your Wellington florist
(former Black rose Florist) Plimmerton.