Creating an Autumn Floral Arrangement with Front Porch Flower Co.
Fresh flowers and greenery are one of my favorite indulgences... They instantly breathe life into a space and their range of colors, textures, shapes, and smells never cease to fascinate me; along with all of the ways in which you can arrange them. Typically I'll pick up a variety of blooms from Trader Joes (or my local park...) and create an arrangement of my own. I've never been a fan of a perfectly precise bouquet much preferring something organic and wild. Local florist, Diane Fulton of Front Porch Flower Co. is the same way. "I much prefer free-form, asymmetrical arrangements that came about organically...it's a surprise every time you create when your not focused on precision and instead let the flowers, the event, the palette, the textures, guide your design." I asked Diane to meet up with me one morning at Hip Innovative Studio Boutique in Newport News, to teach me the basics for creating an autumn floral arrangement along with some tips for keeping it alive!
I'm usually not particularly gentle with working on a flower arrangement however I get nervous when stems start to get tangled.
It's okay to be a little rough. Flowers, especially wildflowers, are used to being outside in the elements; moved around by the wind and animals. They'll be alright.
Do you prefer more precise arrangements or ones that a bit more free-form?
I much prefer free-form, asymmetrical arrangements that came about organically...it's a surprise every time you create when your not focused on precision and instead let the flowers, the event, the palette, the textures, guide your design.
How would you describe your style?
Unpretentious, flexible, unforced, and fluid - the possibilities offered by any palette of colors and textures and scents always gives me goosebumps, like a story waiting to be told. There are no words to describe the awe-inspiring natural beauty in God's handiwork. The wilder the better.
I love that you use a mixture of fauna that is both local and sourced. [On the way to the shoot, Diane had picked some beautiful stems from the side of the parkway. They ended being our favorite pieces to work with!] Do you have favorite flowers and fauna that you enjoy working with?
Yes! One of my favorites is waxflower (any color, but the orange/copper shade in the fall is my favorite - such a delicious alternative to baby’s breath, and it smells heavenly!), and I love limelight, white hydrangeas, white peonies, orange tulips, cream stock, and Bells of Ireland. I’m crazy about variegated greenery like Pittsporum and Aspidistra, and I love cream solidago, Sweet Annie, and Safari Sunset, and all of the fragrant cedars and pines and firs in the winter. Plants with berries like Hypericum, Pepperberry, and Privett Berry add such amazing texture and pop. And since fall and the autumn color palette are my favorites, I really enjoy using bittersweet, nandina, and pumpkin tree, as well as so many locally-grown (and often roadside-wild) beauties like goldenrod, broom corn, cotton pods, ornamental peppers, celosia, and cattails. Anything “different” and unexpected in a bouquet or arrangement, like sea oats, millet, basil, hops, pokeberry, or anything else that I find in a vegetable garden or on the side of the road . . .
What can you to do to make an arrangement last?
1.) If you don't have packets of flower food, a dash of bleach can be added to the water in your vases.
2.) Cut all of your stems at a sharp angle to allow the water from the vase to move up to the flower head.
3.) Remove the majority of the leaves on the stem: one, so that the water will go to the flower head and two, the leaves can muddy up the water.
4) Always start with a clean receptacle, and change the water every two days. Pull out any flowers/greenery that are browning when you change the water.
5) Keep your arrangements away from direct sunlight, vents, and heat sources.
How do you know when an arrangement is done?
I’m constantly tweaking until it’s delivered….
What is your favorite part about being a florist?
I really enjoy the creative process of being able to take someone’s color palette and vision, choose the flowers and greenery that fit and compliment that palette, and bring their vision to life and form. Delivering a bride’s vision for her flowers on her wedding day, and watching her catch her breath at the sight of her bouquet, is an indescribable high.
I think I’m a natural teacher, too, so being able to develop and lead creative flower arranging workshops (like “Blooms & Brews”) in partnership with local venues and businesses, and bring people together for these casual gatherings is so rewarding for me. I love coming up with the different topics, and finding ways to make the workshops unique and attractive and fun, while showcasing other local vendors. Small businesses have to stick together and support each other, and this is a great way to do that for me and FPFC!