Last fall, I was wandering around Old Town Alexandria and my attention was drawn to some window displays with gorgeous, sophisticated floral arrangements. And I’m not talking about huge displays in the lobby of a 5-star hotel, but more like a cover of Martha Stewart Magazine. Lucky me, as I slowly walked down the sidewalk, I caught sight of a sign offering floral arrangement classes! When I got home, I went on the website for the store, Helen Olivia, and looked at all of the available classes. Unfortunately, the timing was bad because I discovered the class offerings when they were most in demand – holiday entertainment season. So, I had to wait 5 months for a class I wanted to take, but it was worth it!
On arrival, our workstations were outfitted with all the tools we needed for our arrangements, as well as a bucket of flowers and greenery for our first project. The tools we used included: knife, pruners, scissors, hand held stapler, pearl topped straight pins, tape, and plant polish.
The first arrangement we created was a classic tight bunching in a tall rectangular vase that incorporated tulips, daffodils, green mini hydrangea, hyacinth, and greenery – pittosporum and aspidistra. To create the greenery base, we placed the pittosporum in opposite corners and repeated the pattern in order to create a basket like weave of stems to give the arrangement some stability.
Next we split the leaves of aspidistra into thirds using a sharp knife, then took each strip and folded into overlapping thirds to create a heart shape with the two outside strips first, then repeated the process with the third strip and used a hand held stapler to keep the final shape together, finishing with a plant polish spray to get a vibrant, shiny green look. Taking the tulips as a group, we used the five decorative aspidistra elements to shape a “collar” around the outside of the tulip bunch, used florist wire to bind the grouping, and inserted it into the corner of the arrangement. The hydrangea, daffodils, and hyacinth were inserted appropriately, with the hyacinth near the tulips as they are both bulb plants that continue to grow while in the vase – so best to have the two flowers grow together instead of completely compromising the shape of the arrangement. The final step was to wrap the vase with a satin acrylic ribbon, securing the start with tape and the folded over end with pearl topped pins. My years of wrapping tennis racquet grips helped me get through this step. And tada! Beautiful!
The next arrangement was more of an abstract spring arrangement based on a meadow concept. Using a square, low vase, a strip of wheatgrass was placed at the back of the arrangement. The remainder of the vase was filled with soaked oasis foam. Using branches of pink quince to create height first, then the purple anemones, hot pink roses, and green mini hydrangea were placed as desired in the oasis. Because the anemones have delicate stems, a hole can be prepped using the rose stem to make it easier to insert and reduce breakage risk. Next, ribbon was wrapped around the base to hide the oasis, wheatgrass roots and dirt. To complete the arrangement, moss was used as a filler to cover the oasis top. Voila! Now it’s time to enjoy the wonderful floral scents in my house and go sign up for another class to learn to create more beautiful arrangements!