The below is an extract taken from Joseph Massie's The Flower School: The Principles and Pleasures of Good Flowers. Here, Joseph reveals how to arrange flowers like a pro using a vase and cellotape.
Let's face facts: sometimes vases can be rather annoying. They can be just too delicate to fill with floral foam, or just too big, so you've no idea how you'll ever manage to arrange any flowers in them. Sometimes a vase can be a really weird, unhelpful shape, and you’ve no idea where to even begin… and that is where the taped grid technique comes in.
Suitable for practically any shape, size or style of vase, the creation of a taped grid gives you as much or as little support as you require, allowing you control over how you divide up the space within any vase. Creating a taped grid, usually from anchor tape, sellotape or even washi tape, constrains the area in which your flower can sit, helpfully keeping each stem where you want it within the vase.
Taped grids can be employed for flowers in the home quickly and easily, taking only minutes to create, yet providing that essential support to keep our flowers where we want them to be. In this project I employ two vases and create a fairly simple grid across them both, allowing the flower to float atop the vases, and not sink too deeply within their depths.
The rich plum hue of the vases is echoed throughout the composition, starting with the purple of the dancing Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), and diluting gently through to Hellebore (Helleborus) and Lilac (Syringa) branches to create a simple, yet effective monochromatic colour palette. Given that the vases are quite unusual in this piece, both in shape and texture, they attract a fair amount of attention from the eye. In light of this I opted to keep the florals quite simple; not including too many varieties nor creating any complex shapes.
Sometimes simple is best, and by echoing the elongated forms of the vases with a compact, head-to-head floral arrangement in both vases, I’ve kept this composition quite contemporary in nature, too.
How to arrange flowers using a vase and cellotape
You will need:
2 glass vases
20 x stems Lilac (Syringa)
20 x stems Hellebore (Helleborus)
20 x stems Snake's Head
Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)
With a pair of clean vases in front of you, begin by filling each vase with fresh water until around two thirds full. Take a roll of tape. I prefer clear anchor tape when using glass vases – and run a length of tape along the length of your vase, securing either end with an overhang of around 1cm (3/8in) on either end. Repeat the process by adding in further pieces of tape across the length of the vase if you deem it necessary to break up the space within the vase.
Next add smaller pieces of tape along the vase, perpendicular to the initial line (s) you secured. As you place each piece of tape, aim to space them each around 3cm (11/8 in) apart along the vase, leaving enough room for the flower stems to be inserted into the water. Continue adding tape along the vase until you've created a sturdy grid.
Taking a bundle of fragrant stems of Lilac, trim the stems to an appropriate length to fit within the vase using a pair of sharp snips. Place each stem carefully through your tape grid, and begin arranging the stems around the outer edges of the vase. Lilac is the perfect flower to place around the rim of the vases, as their naturally curving blossoms will fall over the edge beautifully; helpfully obscuring any tape that might be visible.
Once a heady halo of Lilac has filled the outside edge of your vase, continue to add in further stems until the entire vase has been filled.
Whilst full, the vases could do with a little more nuance to triumph. Take a handful of Hellebore and remove all leaves from the stems. Once stripped, carefully insert the stems through the Lilac blossoms, arranging them in small clusters to mark the areas of dominance.
To add a final flourish, add a handful of the delightful Snake's Head Fritillary through the fray, their dancing stems adding a touch of whimsy and rhythm to the proceedings. Once finished, repeat the above process upon the second vase also, filling it to the brim with some of spring's best blooms.
The Flower School: The Principles and Pleasures of Good Flowers by Joseph Massie (Quadrille, £27, available to pre-order now via Amazon)
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