ASK THE FLORIST: How to Create a Simple Vase Arrangement

Floral posies

If you’re one of those who unwraps a bouquet and then gets a sinking feeling as you know the flowers are going to flop as you drop them into the vase, read on dear reader as I am going to give you some simple step by step lessons on how to “do the flowers” for a vase or jug at home.

This week is British Flower Week and florists and growers are taking great pleasure in highlighting the joys of using UK grown flowers in preference to those grown further afield. With this in mind, there’s no better place to start with than your own back garden.

I have wandered around my (very average) garden with a pair of snips and have chosen some common or garden flowers you may well have growing in your own back yard, including a few weeds which scrub up quite nicely and add a bit of froth or splash of colour to your arrangement!

How to make a simple floral posy display

I have lots of Alchemilla Mollis otherwise known as “ladies mantle” – a soft green leafy plant with lime green flowers. I use it as foliage to fill out an arrangement; greenery is your friend as it holds all the other flowers in place – you could use any green leaf.

Using foliage will also separate the flowers and allow each pretty bloom to really show off. My Alchemilla Mollis looks particularly good with bright red, yellow and purple so I’ve chosen a few poppies, geraniums and buttercups to create a very country garden feel to my vase arrangement.

I’ve also cut rather a lot of flowering ground elder which is a weed by any other name and one I constantly battle with keeping in check in the flower beds. This week it has flowered so I’m using it like cow parsley, next week I shall set to and pull as much of it up as possible because it’s very pervasive and smothers other plants in the garden.

I’ve also picked roses alongside salvia, buttercups, geraniums and geums which also grow in abundance in what is otherwise a very scruffy garden! As you cut the flowers and foliage, put the stems into a bucket of water. When cutting flowers from your own garden,  take a few here and there so as to not leave gaps in the borders. One, two or three stems at most will be more than enough for a simple vase arrangement.

Floral posy how to

1. Choose a vase or a favourite vessel to arrange your flowers in.

2. Take off the lower leaves and side shoots from your flowers and foliage so the stems are relatively leaf-free and clean. Have some string ready to tie your bouquet to stop it falling apart. Fill your vase with water.

3. Start with a few stems of greenery gently held in your hand and add a few flowers. After you’ve added each flower to the bunch, turn your posy and add another flower turning, before adding flower or greenery as you go.

Floral posy tutorial

4. Tie your stems with the string.

floral posy string tie

5. Cut the stems to fit the height of the vase. To do this hold the bouquet up alongside the vase and see where the widest part of the bouquet is – this needs to be at the rim of the vase. It may require cutting the stems quite short for a smaller vase but the overall effect will be balanced and the flowers will not tip over in the vase if they are cut to fit the vase.

Floral posy in a vase

The string will hold the bouquet together and stop the flowers falling to the sides of the vase or jug.

6. An alternative to tying a bouquet is to use some clear tape across the top of the vase.

Floral posy how to guide

7. Add in the greenery and then the flowers – a variety at a time, making sure you have distributed your colours evenly around the vase in thirds, halves or quarters depending on the number of flowers you have. The clear sticky tape will hold the stems in place.

8. Turn the vase each time you place a flower or leaf. If, like my arrangement,  you have just one stem of something, think about where the vase is to be placed and if there is a back or a front to your vase. If it’s on a table, perhaps it need to be more central in the arrangement so it will be veiwed from all sides.

floral arrangement guide

British Flower week: June 13 – 17th  2016 is a Covent Garden Flower Market Initiative. Its aim is to draw attention to the flourishing trade in British Grown flowers. 




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  • Reply Anna International June 20, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Thank you for this Lindsay! I have recently realised that I really enjoy arranging flowers (after unexpectedly playing florist for my sister’s wedding when hers let her down somewhat) and I have been meaning to start learning more. This is a great place to begin, and when this flipping rain stops I’m off to see what I can grab from our garden to arrange!

  • Reply Lindsey Kitchin June 21, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Hi Anna
    Yes, it really is a good time to be playing around with the flowers and foliage you may have in your garden. Have fun!

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