The Art of Arranging

Men laying new hardwood flooring

Callaway’s floral designer Nicole Gamble shows off a holiday swag that she created during on of her classes.

I love fresh flowers, as I??m sure most of you do, as well. They just bring an element to a room that nothing else can. They are, in a sense, the design equivalent of ??the icing on the cake.?? And that certainly goes for the holidays. Your holiday decor just wouldn??t be complete without several beautiful arrangements.

But if you??re like most our staff, you don??t know the first thing about making an attractive arrangement. Well, we wanted that to change, so we jumped at the chance to spend the morning with Nicole Gamble, Callaway Garden??s floral designer, at one of her fall flower arranging workshops. We were immediately impressed with her knowledge and skills, and all walked away with a newfound respect for the art of floral arranging.

Tricks of the trade
The first hour of the class we sat in awe as Gamble cranked out several stunning arrangements, explaining the tricks-of-the-trade along the way. For instance, she told us that just as with any other project, you have to have the right tools for arranging flowers. She recommends you keep waterproof tape, Cling (a putty to help keep flowers in place), floral wire, stretch tape and several wire wooden picks handy any time you??re making an arrangement.

She also says it??s important to understand the six major principles of floral design. ??They are scale, line, focal point, rhythm, balance and repetition,?? she says. ??Any good floral design book should address these concepts, although they are sometimes referred to by slightly different names.”

Fresh flowers
Of course the most important part of flower arranging is the flowers. Gamble says it??s important to look for those with crisp, clean foliage and perky flowers. ??Check the stem ends,?? she says. ??Freshly cut stems are still nice and green, but they start to show signs of age after a while.?? She also says if you??re buying flowers with multiple blooms per stem, they will have a longer vase life if you choose stems with some open flowers, some slightly open flowers and some buds. Stems in full bloom will be more attractive right after you purchase them, but won??t last long in the vase. Gamble also told us it??s ideal to purchase flowers right before you have an event, or up to two days in advance if it??s more convenient.
??Most flowers sold at commercial florists have an average vase life of a week or more,?? Gamble explains. ??Only flowers with a relatively long vase life are suitable crops for trade. Some garden varieties make great cut flowers but do not ship well and therefore are not available in the florist trade.??

Holiday arrangements
Evergreen foliage is great for holiday arrangements because it lasts a long time and smells great??especially cedar. ??At Callaway we use a lot of magnolia and pine,?? Gamble says. ??Poinsettias don??t last long in cut arrangements, but a small potted poinsettia can be nestled into a larger container and surrounded with greenery to create the effect that it is an arrangement.?? She also recommends using several types of holly for their beautiful red berries. ??Stars of Bethlehem?? is ideal because it is long lasting, and has white stars that open along the stem.

Whatever you decide to use when you create your holiday arrangements, make it a point to take a class from the pros at Callaway. They will have two Christmas arranging classes just in time for the holidays. If you just can??t fit a class into your busy holiday schedule, they??ll be offering several spring classes as well. Visit for more information.

Flower Lingo
Base flowers: Typically greenery, such as leatherleaf fern and plumosa fern that is used as the base of the arrangement.

Line flowers: They draw the eye through a design and define its perimeters. Common floral materials include liatris, snapdragons and cattails.

Mass: These are the flowers that make up the body of an arrangement. Most are round in form like daisies, carnations, dahlias or zinnias.

Form flowers: Flowers of unusual color or shape that are usually the arrangement??s focal point or part of its ??focal area.?? There are usually only a few form flowers in an arrangement, as they tend to be expensive.

Filler flowers: Small dainty flowers (usually many per stem) that are used to fill any gaps, and add softness and fullness to the arrangement. Common fillers are baby??s breath and several kinds of statice.

Christmas Design Workshop
Saturday, December 7, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
??Tis the season for holiday decorating??Callaway style! Learn to use natural materials to create versatile arrangements that can be used throughout the holiday season. After watching a demonstration of several floral techniques, create a centerpiece or door swag of your own to enjoy. Materials provided.

Christmas Topiary Workshop
Saturday, December 14, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Explore the fanciful world of topiary as several styles and sizes of holiday topiary designs are created before your eyes. Later, guided by Callaway Floral Designer Nicole Gamble, try your own hand at creating a Christmas topiary to take home. Materials provided.

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