How-To Ideas

Floral Design Tips You Can Use At Home

Floral arrangement

Art in Bloom is held each spring at the North Carolina Museum of Art and features workshops by noted local and national designers. We asked two recent presenters for their tips on floral design.

Olivier GiugniOlivier Giugni, the French floral designer behind New York City’s L’Olivier Floral Atelier, is the pioneer of the leaf-wrapped vase, which is reproduced worldwide. His designs are considered the haute couture of floral creations from Tokyo to New York, with notable clients including Vogue and Vanity Fair, as well as Harry Winston and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Q. Tell us how to create a stunning arrangement.

A. Mimic the natural movement of the flowers. Flowers are living art. With many varieties, you can arrange, bend, and sculpt the stems using their natural movement. We often arrange Calla lilies in a horizontal vase, calling them “Bathing Callas” as the flowers lazily rest their stems in a post reminiscent of a bath. Alternatively, we sculpt flowers in a circular motion, replicating the roundness of the vase, a shape that is highlighted and extended through the sculpted stems.

Select an architectural vase. Unusual vases often inspire me. Instead of starting with the flowers, begin your arrangement by selecting an architectural vase and let the shape of it influence your flower choices and designs.

Cydney Davis EnglishLocal Raleigh designer Cydney English Davis of the English Garden tells us how to design arrangements for parents and children. Cydney was winner of the People’s Choice Award at the inaugural Art in Bloom in 2015 for her floral interpretation of Anselm Kiefer’s Untitled.

Q. How do you engage children in floral design?

A. Think of fun ways to make the experience personal and empowering. For holidays, I involve my daughter in helping design and set our family table. This has involved a variety of projects ranging from preparing small posies of flowers to designing place-cards with a floral motif.

Introduce children to the life cycle of a flower. Whether you have them plant a small patch of wildflowers in the yard or fill a couple of Dixie cups with seeds for placement in a sunny kitchen window, kids LOVE gardening and seeing the life cycle of a plant.

Think outside the vase! Let kid’s create a bouquet in an unexpected container. Anything from a Coca Cola can to a coffee mug can serve as a simple vessel for flowers. A fun option is to use a larger empty crayon container lined with a Ziploc bag can become a whimsical way to educate a child about the color wheel with flowers grouped by color as crayons would be.

Make flowers matter. Share with children the meanings of flowers and help them create a special message for a friend or loved one writing it in the language of flowers. A little bud-vase of simple blooms can speak volumes and can offer children shy about sharing their feelings or struggling with written expression a tactile way to say “I love you!” or “You’re great!”

Go foraging! Grab a pair of clippers and put on your work boots and get out and explore. Check out your landscape first for interesting foliages, branches and pods but don’t be afraid to go farther afield. A short hike in the woods can produce treasures of lichen covered branches, pine cones, river rock, and fallen leaves that can transform a simple bouquet of roses, carnations and mums into the makings of a magical secret garden. If you are on public land, be sure to ask for permission or check guidelines before cutting any elements from the land. Fallen items on the ground are generally fine for foraging in small quantities.


Helen Yoest, author of several books including her latest, “Good Berry, Bad Berry,” is an award winning garden writer and sustainable gardening caring for her half-acre wildlife habitat, Helen’s Haven.