Decorating Ideas

Tips for Floral Design from Art in Bloom

Art in Bloom

Designing a floral display for Art in Bloom takes pre-planning, knowledge of plants, vision, and creativity. But it doesn’t always take someone who is a trained floral designer, at least that was the case with Vanessa Smith, the People’s Choice winner in 2019. We caught up with Vanessa, who is a server in the museum’s Iris Restaurant who happens to love arranging flowers. She and her husband Marc work as a team and have entered a floral display in Art in Bloom the past four years, and they are working on year number five for the 2020 event. Here are some tips she shared for those who want to try floral design.

Q. What have you learned these past few years by creating a display for Art in Bloom?

A. Top of the list is you don’t need to fill the container with plant materials. It’s okay to leave some open space. I have found that simple is better. The arrangement doesn’t need to be symmetrical either. I’ve also learned a few tricks when working with flowers. Some stems don’t hold up as long as the flower does, so I’ve discovered that using wire keeps these stems standing tall. I’ve also learned that even with a pre-planned design, sometimes I have to take it as the bouquet of flowers dictates. Some times a flower I’ve ordered isn’t available and a different one is substituted.

Q. How do you start arranging?

A. I start with the greenery first. Ruscus leaves, fern and eucalyptus are my favorites. Many places will sell you a greenery pack of leaves. Ask your supplier if they can get some for you. I then add the flowers, starting with the focus flower so it stands out, and then I fill in more after that. I also consider the height and texture of each display. I prefer to use oasis in a container instead of a vase with water. It’s easier for me to design this way. If you use a vase, make a grid on the top with strips of tape to help keep the stems in place. I also make sure to use a floral food in the water.

Q. Why do you think you won the People’s Choice award last year?

A. I have no idea. Maybe it was because of the monochromatic style of the painting I was assigned and how I translated this into my design with similar colors and specific textures. This year my painting is an oil on canvas work by Albin Egger-Lienz called “Corn Harvest”. It has a lot of tans and browns in the work, so that will be a challenge. I guess you’ll have to check out my display at the event.

Art in Bloom, March 19-22, 2020, at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh will showcase over 50 floral masterpieces created by designers all inspired by art in the Museum’s collection. During the four-day event, participants can also attend workshops, dine in Iris, and find one-of-a-kind gifts in the Museum Store. Proceeds from Art in Bloom support Museum programming and exhibitions. Check the museum’s web site at for details and to purchase tickets.

Featured image by the North Carolina Museum of Art.

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