Simple objects have the power to transform and beautify any place, if used in a creative & appropriate manner. A handful of vines and flowers can be experimented to make the home, a better place
Flora arranging is an art delving as deep philosophically as any ancient art in a museum. But unlike the classics, this art can be executed simply within your own home, making terrifically positive effects on the mood of your family and guests. This posting will offer you practical designs and concepts to cultivate calm in your home.
First, let’s delve a little bit into the rich philosophy that flora arranging embodies. We bring flowers, vines, and all manner of flora into our homes because nature is embedded deep within our spirits. It calms our temperament, excites our hearts, and inspires us to reach for all the world offers. Inviting nature into your home tempts beauty to grace your family and guests with calm. Think of the peacefulness of woodland. Now consider the discordant anxiety of a clear-cut forest. Beauty inspires calm, ugliness anxiety.
Now there’s a number of aesthetics for you to consider throughout this process, but I find that like a ceramicist, the more I consciously guide the process of arranging, the more artificial the result. We want to invite nature into our homes, not strangle it and shove it in a corner. It is important to understand that nature has a way of smoothing out aesthetic wrinkles in ways humans are unable. Precision of design can certainly be beautiful like a jet soaring through the air, but the gentle slope of a hill covered in lilacs another.
In emulation of nature’s harmony, I encourage you to first observe natural combinations that exist already in your garden or natural areas that contain flora that would be reasonable to harvest. One example I found recently was a collection of Star Jasmine beautifully twisting together with Carolina Jasmine in a natural symbiosis. Emulating this natural combination would be an excellent start to inviting harmony into your home.
Also to consider are symmetry vs. asymmetry, both existing in plenty within nature, and each possessing it’s own sort of beauty. There is beauty in one’s eyes being spaced symmetrically apart with their nose exactly in the middle. But there is also tremendous beauty in a mountain with a peak framed by asymmetrical, lower crags. One simple idea is to make pairs of exactly the same compositions. I love clipping just a small clump of buds and dropping it in a whiskey neat glass. Place a pair of them together in an unexpected location and delight your guests!
It’s such a simple, elegant design, it’s easy to experiment with different flowers and combinations.
This brings us to the tension between grand compositions and more intricate designs. Both can be incorporated into your home with thought. Consider this larger version of the whiskey glass design combined with a soothingly traditional plaid table cloth in the breakfast nook:
Another grand composition that could conflict with more detailed pieces, is the use of vines in the home. I have a beautiful series of Wisterias growing dramatically up a folly in the garden.
The elegant sweep of its vines in early spring before budding and blooming outrageously can be emulated in the home in opportune locations. I find the grand sweep is especially appropriate in the library where the serious contemplation encouraged by books is contrasted nicely with the wild sweeping lines created by the Wisteria’s arms.
Repetition is another technique that can both emulate and enhance nature. Trinities have always been an especially comforting number. Consider this composition of bookcases.
They are arranged in a group of 3, one arrangement per bookcase. The vases are empty Chianti bottles of lovely evenings past. Notice that the vase closest to you is the smallest, the middle slightly larger and the furthest largest. This size progression leads one’s eye to the windows and the natural light bathing the room.
Each arrangement is an interesting combination of pre-budding and budding Birch. It is the austerity of winter punctuated by the possibility of spring. One tree in my neighborhood has managed to bud prior to the others and I simply combined the budding trees branches with its less prolific neighbors. Birch branches are naturally symmetrical, straight and thus easy to arrange into stylish forms. I used a ratio of 2 non-budding to 1 budding branches in this composition. In this case repetition of the same combination of flora is especially pleasing to the eye, reducing the strain of identifying new colors and patterns, while adding a simple draw to natural light.
We are fortunate enough to have a beautiful little reading nook in the bedroom. It is pictured second to the top of the posting. The trick here is to match the symmetry of the windows with a pair of graceful chairs. Ours are Tiger Eye Oak in a unique 1940’s style. They’re surrounded with black painted pine bookshelves and wardrobes that calm the room with darkness.
But we didn’t want to wake up every morning in a cave, so we combined the black Pine and Tiger Eye Oak with the windows of the nook and a White Peach blossom arrangement that brightens, opening the space for morning light. The nook invited you to relax with a good book, calmly drifting to sleep in the evening while encouraging you to wake with enthusiasm. The Waterford Crystal vase’s opening was a little large for the optimal density of White Peach blossoms, and so I tied the top with a section of Star Jasmine vine. This is an excellent technique for whenever your vase is too large for the amount of flora you wish to present.
Finally, consciously set up your arranging area to reflect the beauty of the creations your are about to design. Give yourself plenty of space. Don’t worry about making a mess, it will be cleaned up quickly.
Collect a large range of vases to use, but don’t be married to any particular arrangement with any particular vase. It’s far more important to let the design flow smoothly through your own creative inspiration
Most of all, enjoy this process. It’s far more important than the result. Certainly inviting nature into your home will bring peace and calm, but the ultimate relaxation will come from a few hours of creative design that embraces nature’s abundant beauty. Enjoy.