How flower arranging got cool again — and three ways to master it
Fortunately, I find myself in Massie’s new studio in Bury, Greater Manchester, carefully tugging at foliage that stubbornly refuses to unravel, and lamenting the fact that I’ve managed to cut another rose stem too short . This is my first floral design tutorial, and as someone who typically throws flowers in a vase and hopes for the best, I’ve officially stepped out of my comfort zone and am attempting one of the easiest projects in the book. – a saved grid.
Declaring himself my “flower sherpa,” Massie hands me some duct tape, and I follow his lead, applying three pieces vertically to the top of a vase, leaving space in between, and then horizontally again. This creates support squares for the rods and provides more control over the appearance of the design.
“We’re going to mimic the look and feel of a collection of bud vases for a light, soft, summery feel, so start with some foliage which helps with the three Fs: shape (shape), fill (volume) and finish,” Massie orders, pointing to a Lunaria (honesty).
“It can be tedious, so give it a little tug. Remove all low leaves and debris to keep the water as clean as possible, cut the stem at a 45 degree angle for more surface area, and always try to use shears, not scissors. They are easier on the wrist and better on the upper.
For the primary or statement flower – “The first thing the eye sees”, says Massie – I opt for a lovely pale rose called “Westminster Abbey”. “What we’re looking for is a slightly domed shape with evenly distributed color and texture,” he explains.
Over the next 30 minutes I add ‘Mother’s Choice’ peonies for depth, “a little more for the eye to look for”, plus secondary or transitional flowers including Lisianthus, Galina rosette and pea of scent, followed by the filler or tertiary flowers (Queen Anne and Orlaya’s lace, in this case).
The flora may be pretty, but my process isn’t, and yet, once I get over the initial jitters, I instead have fun and offer up my finished creation for Massie to read.
“Be honest, it’s all a bit… low, isn’t it?” I ask presenting the display.
“If I’m being honest, a little, but is anyone going to be upset?” No. It’s not bad at all,” observes Massie. It’s a criticism I’m more than happy to accept.
As the maestro himself says, “If people are having a good time, that’s all that matters.” And how not to feel edified by the sight of beautiful flowers, whatever their form.