Rachel Ruysch, Floral Still Life, 1700
A lot of floral designers are going Dutch lately, finding inspiration in Flemish floral still lifes. I love the wild and romantic mood, the flowers spilling out of their containers, the inclusion of fruit and branches and leaves. My usual M.O. with floral arrangements is to buy a bunch of tulips at Trader Joes or scavenge whatever I can find in the yard and stick everything in a vase. Making a Dutch still life-inspired floral arrangement does require more thought and work, but I was surprised by how easy it really was.
Below is my step by step guide. Since flower arranging was an entirely new process to me I watched this YouTube video first which helped get me started with some of the fundamentals...
A goblet or urn shaped vessel works well for cascading designs.
Here are the flowers I bought from the market along with some honeybush greens, camelias, and rosehips I collected from my yard. Total cost $23.
Floral foam I bought from The Dollar Tree. Soak until it floats.
I organized my flowers by type. The YouTube video advises odd numbers of everything which is probably a good idea but I ignored that without any disastrous results.
Start to build your arrangements in layers. I began with a base of eucalyptus branches.
I added all the flowers by type, sticking them into the foam randomly before moving on to the next flower. Here we have grapes, kale, and protea.
Camelias and honeybush folliage have been added. It's beginning to look like something!
Keep layering and keep turning the vase to avoid gaps until, voila!
Things I learned:
- You will likely need more materials (flowers, fruit, foliage, cacti) than you ever imagined.
- You will still save a lot of money by making your own bouquet and it only took me one side of Van Morisson's Astral Weeks to complete the whole project AND clean up.
- The produce isle is a great place to gather materials. You can add things like artichokes, clementines, and lady apples by piercing them with a wooden skewer.
- Your yard (or neighbor's yard!) is also a great place to gather materials. I loved the cool glaucous mint leaves of the honeybush growing outside my entryway in this arrangement--something I would be unlikely to find at my local florist.
- Embrace birth and death. The Dutch often incorporated memento mori into their arrangements and the flowers are often fully open, past their prime by modern standards, but looking all the more natural and luscious for it.