If You Must

My first choice of a giant arrangement of flowers and greens is first and foremost about fresh.  I would guess most gardeners would agree with this point of view.  But a big statement in fresh flowers is ephemeral, and incredibly expensive.  A garden that could supply 100 stems of fresh flowers every week-this would be a very large garden.  The time it takes to arrange fresh flowers and keep them looking fresh is considerable. I am happy when Buck just buys me a dozen roses at the grocery.  Fake roses can be fine too, provided they are arranged with style and wit.  This artificial arrangement came to my door just two days ago. 

I have not one problem in the world with artificial flowers and greens.  They are designed by real people, and manufactured by real people who take their jobs seriously.  They are purchased and taken home by real people whose pleasure in the natural world is self evident.  If you cannot do fresh flowers, if you have a spot in your heart and home asking for some evidence of the natural world -if you must go with the faux, I have some ideas.   

No kidding-this is the flip side of the arrangement in need of an overhaul whose front side is my opening photograph.  It looks to have one of everything imaginable. No artificial arrangement benefits from a kitchen sink approach.  What goes in your kitchen sink is about discards.  What goes in your arrangement is about choices.  Choose a few materials that really appeal to you.  Choose a few materials that make a strong statement about volume, color, texture, contrast and mass-as you do not have the fresh card to play.   

I regularly arrange flowers for weddings and events.  I have a gardener’s point of view that governs how and what I put together.   Those natural materials do the lion’s share of the work.  I can bunch 3, 10, or 100 cut stems.  Any three stems fresh cut, any fresh cut fistful of flowers, or truckful of fresh flowers is guaranteed to please.  No matter how badly you arrange them, fresh flowers always look beautiful.      

An artificial arrangement is about a visual feast of a completely different sort.  The fake flowers and stems available today are incredibly good.  However the leaves are incredibly bad-they are a manufacturing afterthought.  Loose all the fake leaves, and arrange each stem so that its given star gets good play, and contrasts in color, texture and volume with its neighbor. 

Rob saw fit to purchase box after box of artificial stems featuring red fuzzy balls. Their color and texture-more than interesting.  My client’s arrangement-I took it apart.   I washed, or otherwise cleaned every stem that I thought might be relevant.  I clipped off every offending fake leaf.  I planned to cover every plastic stem with some shape of interest.   

The group that I would call gardeners needs a very big tent-should they all plan to meet.  Gardening takes many forms, most of which interests me. What interested me here was providing my client with an updated look.   

An artificial arrangement need not be dusty looking or poorly planned. You have no obligation to use a stem as it comes out of the box.  Figure out what part you like the best.  Discard the worst, take apart the rest, and decide what overall shape pleases you.  Arrange each element so it looks like you were having fun.


  1. I agree. Fresh is queen, but there’s still room for other forms like artificial and dried/preserved. Chop up & redo–great advice!

  2. I’ve been looking for those red fuzzy stems you used in the arrangement. Can you tell me where you purchased them?

Leave a Comment