Arranging flowers beautifully can be a daunting task, especially if you’re going for an on trend asymmetrical look. This week I popped into my favourite florist – Jodie McGregor Flowers – and chatted to Jodie about how to arrange flowers like a pro.
With many years experience, and as Sydney’s most awarded florist, Jodie knows what she’s talking about. I’m thrilled that she has generously shared her knowledge and tips to help you create a gorgeous statement flower arrangement at home.
Jodie, above right, has been a passionate and creative florist for 16 years and has a small team of talented women working with her in her Annandale shop. The interior of the shop is a riot of colour against deep charcoal walls. Blooms are gathered en masse and the shop is a flurry of activity with a constant flow of customers and couriers.
Now you’ve met Jodie and know you’re in extremely capable hands, let’s get started and make an amazing flower arrangement…
Step 1: choose your flowers – Jodie’s top 5 tips
1. Jodie suggests that you start with the flowers that you love. If you choose the vase first you’ll limit yourself.
2. Decide if you’d like your arrangement to be tonal or contrasting. If you go for contrasting, Jodie advises not to be timid – make the contrast bold.
3. Choose blooms and foliage that may not normally go together. This is how it works in nature and it’s a good starting point for this type of arrangement. But don’t be tempted to use too many different types of flowers!
4. Incorporate lots of foliage. It makes it easier to achieve a better shape and it holds the arrangement together, both structurally and visually.
5. Consider using nuts or berries to add texture and interest.
Jodie chose blooms in a soft peachy pink palette, together with foliage in various colours and nuts for texture. Make sure you have variety in tone, texture and size.
Step 2: Choose a vase
The length of the foliage and Dahlias means that a tall vase works best to balance the height. There are formulas for the proportion of vase to flowers, but Jodie thinks it’s better to try a few options to see what works rather than being formulaic.
Make sure your vase is clean and use cold tap water with a teaspoon of sugar or bleach added to prolong the life of your flowers.
Step 3: Start with foliage
Lay the flowers and foliage out so you can see what you’re working with.
Strip off any leaves from the bottom of the stems. The water will quickly sour if foliage sits below the surface.
Working with one stem of Magnolia foliage at a time, place them at an angle in the vase. The tip should be in the water with the stem resting on the rim. Overlap the stems as you work your way around the vase. They will support each other and create a framework for the arrangement.
Step 4: Add the textural element of nuts
Trim off any excess leaves and place the Tetragona Nut stems under the Magnolia leaves. The thick woody stems provide a strong base to hold the shape of the arrangement.
Our flower arrangement is going to be front facing, so the Magnolia stems are the only element that’s placed around the whole vase. The remaining additions will be to the front and sides.
Create a group of two to three stems on the bottom right hand side of your arrangement and another group to the left. Make the two groups different in size – remember it’s all about asymmetry.
Step 4: Add the Dahlias
Remove the leaves from the bottom of the stems and thread the flowers into the arrangement one at a time. Jodie created a loose group of Dahlias on the right hand side of the arrangement. Make sure the flowers aren’t bunched up too tightly, the aim is for a loose, unstructured arrangement.
Jodie’s tip: place the ends of the stems barely into the vase so the flowers spread out, giving volume to overall shape. We’ll top the water up at the end to ensure that they have plenty to drink.
Step 5: Incorporate some Queen Anne’s Lace
These delicate tiny white flowers are a lovely contrast to the bold Dahlias. Jodie scattered a few throughout the arrangement and made a small grouping at the front.
Step 5: Prepare the Colombian Roses
The outer petals of roses tend to brown naturally – carefully peel a few off if you need to. Using a rose stripper remove the thorns, and the leaves from the lower part of the stems.
Step 6: Add the roses into the arrangement
Create a group of roses on the left hand side of the arrangement, pointing up and out to the left. Vary their height to lead your eye in and create depth and a visual rhythm.
Step 7: Add height with Dollar Gum
The beautiful circular leaves of the Dollar Gum add balance, shape and height. The colour echoes the soft green and silver of the nuts at the base of the arrangement.
Poke the Dollar Gum between the flowers and other foliage in loose groups. The stems should be on the right hand side of the arrangement and be pointing up and to the right.
Step 8: Refine the shape
Take a few steps back so you can get an overall view. Visual rhythm is created by loose groupings and varied height and depth, so see if you need to make any final adjustments to the shape. Fix the height of individual stems by gently pulling them outwards or poking them in further.
Top up the vase with water if needed, and you’re done.
All photography and styling by Lisa Tilse for We Are Scout.
This arrangement would be perfect for a party or event, and if you follow Jodie’s tips you’ll be able to impress friends and family when you tell them you made it yourself.
If you’re in Sydney’s Inner West pop into Annandale to visit Jodie McGregor Flowers and pick up an armful of blooms. Or visit their extensive website to shop online.