Round No-foam Centerpiece
Sometimes I find myself getting a little too comfortable with the flowers I'm working with and I've gotta mix it up. The last few weeks have been all about springy pastels and I was craving bolder colors and lots of texture. The pincushion protea used here are so amazing to touch, like the flexible bristles of a paddle hairbrush. I'm lucky enough that my local grocery store stocks bouquets of these mixed with burgundy and green leucadendron (also in the protea family). Both proteas and leucadendron are native to South Africa and are also grown in Australia. I've paired them with lots of thick leathery greens including several types of eucalyptus as well as bright cheery sunflowers. I spent about $25 retail on this design ($15 for the protea/leucadendron bouqet and $10 for the sunflowers) and reused a vase from my collection.
This design involves no floral foam, which is something I've made a commitment to in my business recently (more on that in another blog post). Floral foam is full of chemicals and not recyclable, so giving it up is a no-brainier.
In order to keep the flowers where you want in the container though, you need some kind of mechanic in place to nestle the stems. Below, I'll teach you a great trick using just a small piece of chicken wire, that can be reused indefinitely.
This centerpiece is considered a "round" shape because it has a relatively uniform dome shape all the way around and can be viewed from all sides. When you're designing, be sure to keep rotating your vase around so you can see each side and fill in any holes (don't forget the top!).
3 pincushion protea
3 stems safari sunset leucadendron (burgundy)
3 stems light green leucadendron
6-8 stems of greenery (depending on the size of your container you may want more)
Because of the chicken wire mechanic, you'll want to choose an opaque container. Fill 2/3rds of the way with water mixed with flower food.
Cut a 5"x 5" piece of coated chicken wire with wire cutters. It must be coated chicken wire otherwise the exposed metals will kill the flowers in the water.
Loosely crumple the chicken wire into a ball and settle into the base of the container. Make sure no wire is poking out the top. Optional: secure wire with a criss-cross of floral tape on the lip of the container.
Start by "greening" your container. Cut your first pieces about 1.5x the width of the container. To make an even base for the round shape, I started with four pieces "North, South, East, West" around the base. Make sure you strip the leaves of the stems of greens so there are no leaves below the water line.
Finish adding greenery to the center. The pieces should radiate from the center of the container and be no taller than the pieces you have on the sides. You will add some more at the end to fill holes, so save a few pieces.
Add your pincushion protea in a trianglular pattern. You can vary the heights slightly but cut them to about 1.5x the height of the container.
Begin to add your sunflowers. As you add them step back and observe the overall shape. You want to see a rounded dome at the top. If it looks like an ice-cream cone, your sides are too short and your top is too tall. Think "a big lunch" not "pregnant belly."
Add your leucadendron and any additional greenery to fill gaps. Pay particular attention to the space around the lip of the container. It's ok if a few pieces drape towards the ground, it adds interest and movement!
These more exotic flowers are becoming a staple in flower shops and grocery stores around the country. But, if you have trouble finding them, you can substitute the protea for orange roses or lilies.
Happy arranging! Got questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments.