Choose your container carefully. White or bright colours are difficult to work with and neutral browns, beiges and shades of green are inconspicuous.
Make sure your mechanics (e.g. pin holder, chicken wire and floral foam) are securely fixed in your container. The use of Pot tape, which is a thin sticky waterproof tape, usually green, will help to hold everything in place.
Start your design with foliage. Choose several different types with an assortment of different shaped leaves and/or different shades of green. Also consider the texture, shiny or matt?
Long pieces of foliage with small leaves, should be used to give your arrangement height and width. Make sure you place these stems so that they are within the specified dimensions. These pieces should lean slightly backwards, so that when viewed from the side, the arrangement doesn’t look as if it will topple forwards.
Gradually use shorter lengths and larger leaves towards the centre and base of the arrangement. The stems should look as if they are radiating from the centre of the base. Your mechanics need to be totally covered so that no part of them can be seen. Take particular care to fill in the back of your design.
Next come the flowers, in a similar way to the foliage try to use two or three different shapes of flowers in harmonious colours. It is almost essential that one flower type should be round. Insert the flowers, using different stem lengths, smaller flowers (perhaps buds) on longer stems to give height and width, larger flowers towards the centre. Insert the flowers at different angles, radiating from the centre, aiming for a result that doesn’t look flat, even insert a few small flowers into the back of your design.
Now stand back and view your arrangement from all angles. Is it balanced both physically and visually? Does it have a focal point? Does it interpret the title and meet the brief? If the answer is yes, well done. Otherwise, adjust one or two stems, but try not to fiddle too much. Remember that often less is more, and try not to cram too much material into your design, leave room for the butterflies and the bees!
As you get more experience you will realise that many of these rules are made to be broken!
Do you want to learn more? Enrol on an evening class, join the local flower club (Bramley & Romans- phone Linda on 886167 for more information) or watch demonstrations online. Help can be found at NAFAS (National Association of Flower Arranging Societies) www.nafas.org.uk