Unexpected floral arrangements for the holidays that you can definitely make, promise
What’s inspiring Canadian florists this season plus how to make these stunning arrangements
Even if we don't bring fresh florals into the home alllll year-round, this is the season where we open our homes to guests and truly "deck the halls" for entertaining, so many of us are thinking about centrepieces, mantel accents and florals to adorn our home. We love poinsettias and evergreens as much as the next person, but this year we wanted to branch out a bit when it came to holiday floral arrangements. So, we turned to three Canadian florists from across the country and asked them to weigh in on where to start. Not only did they share what's inspiring them this season, but they provided us with three simply stunning, and unexpected arrangements that we want to attempt ASAP. It turns out a little foraging may be in order, even if it's just in the aisles of your local grocery. And lucky for us, and you, dear CBC Life reader, they walked us through how to source and style these gorgeous masterpieces at home.
A balance in imbalance
There seems to be a growing trend in arrangements that veering away from the classically styled tradition (freakebana, anyone?) and toward a more asymmetrical, whimsical, or even wild look, if you will. For insight into this kind of arrangement and how we could achieve this aesthetic on our own, we asked these wonderful floral stylists behind this stunning arrangement, Nassi Soofi and Alexandra Schulze. They are the duo behind The Wild Bunch, a floral studio in Vancouver that specializes in naturalistic designs and styling.
What to source:
The Wild Bunch created this asymmetrical piece with only three elements that are not only easy to find, they're budget friendly. Alexandra and Nassi say that with a minimalist piece, the standout element is its shape and flow.
- To emulate this style, start in your own backyard. Opt for fallen branches that could be worked into your arrangement.
- Use available evergreens, plumsa fern, gypsophila (also known as baby's breath) and cedar. Bonus! It'll leave your home smelling super fresh and oh-so festive.
- You'll notice they didn't include any focal flowers in this arrangement, and instead, kept it light with gypsophila as their floral element.
Alexandra and Nassi love asymmetry, a common feature in many of their creations, explaining "a balance in imbalance is [their] goal."
- Beginning with cedar as a base, "your branches will provide you with the foundation for your whole creation."
- Next, add in heaps of gypso to create the desired shape – this will also add fill and create an element of airiness.
- Add in the plumsa fern, which further contributes to the "movement and flow" of the creation, always keeping height in mind. You'll find that "the textures of green create depth and interest."
- Finally, if you want to take your creation to the next level, they encourage readers to incorporate focal flowers from your favourite florists. Think roses and orchids to really elevate a simple arrangement such as this.
Known for her unstructured designs, Tellie Hunt of Hunt & Gather in Toronto also likes to incorporate foraged materials when possible and encourages readers to do the same. Inspired by Dutch paintings and the shape and airiness of the poppies, she crafted this delicate ombre arrangement and we want to emulate it for all of our tabletops. Despite her aversion to anything sparkly or red and white this time of year, Tellie's creation reads unexpectedly holiday with its moody colour palette, stunning blooms and dried grasses. She refers to herself as "more of a tone on tone kind of girl". This arrangement takes two opposing colours and bridges them together to create an unexpected ombre effect, transitioning from bright reds of the poppies on the right into the neutral champagnes of the roses and then into the deep wine tones of the blooms on the left.
What to source:
- Tellie says opt for blooms that will allow for one colour to lead into the next.
- As for types of flowers, she suggests that you have some focal blooms which will be a lot larger, some small airy blooms and some line flowers with a fun curvy shape.
- Don't let the time of year deter you, spring flowers such as ranunculus, anemone and tulips are actually very on-trend right now.
- For a base, Tellie advises skipping the traditional floral foam and instead, creating a "sphere" with chicken wire and placing it into your container.
This look is very doable at home, we promise. Her biggest piece of advice is don't over-do it. Always plan ahead and assess your colour palette. Here's how Tellie approaches an arrangement like this:
- Let the colour guide you. Tellie likes to study each bloom before designing, sometimes laying them down in a line in front of her and studying which colour leads best to the next. As she puts it, every flower has a different hue and noticing those subtle differences can really help you pair one specific bloom beside the next.
- Start from the base of your container and work outwards. Not necessarily the centre of the arrangement, advises Tellie, but moreso the lowest part of the arrangement.
- The base should be composed of your heavier blooms with straight stems and the key is to keep the blooms from actually touching.
- Create shape and height with the blooms that have nice curves, and aim for the flowers to catch at the top of the container through the chicken wire and again near the base of the container to keep them in place.
Traditional with a citrus twist
If you've found yourself living in a town with very few floral options, this arrangement proves that corner store blooms are all you need to create a show-stopping centrepiece. Styled by Brett Meech, who lives in the small town of Truro, Nova Scotia, this striking piece is delightfully unexpectedly while still reading 'holiday'. It uses elements sourced entirely from an even more unexpected place – the grocery store. Inspired by the rich jewel-like tones of the ripe citrus fruits in his local grocery store, Brett opted for a more traditional arrangement with the incorporation of a very fresh twist. Knowing full well he wasn't going to recreate the opulent fruit and flower scapes seen in Dutch paintings, but inspired by them nonetheless, he wanted to create an arrangement that was fresh and fun, yet still sophisticated enough that he'd feel proud adding it to the centre of his Christmas table.
What to source:
- Start with what you find at the grocer's flower counter; search for white hydrangeas, roses and magnolia leaves, common this time of year.
- This look may be accessible and budget-friendly, but its use of luxe-looking blooms adds an elevated feel. Brett suggests opting for white blooms for a fresh feel because it provides a clean slate for whatever you pair with it.
- Next head on over to the produce aisle for some fresh citrus.
- As for greenery, no need to purchase, instead trim your favourite shrub in the yard and utilize that.
- Brett encourages readers to use a traditional base, such as an old family heirloom, or if you're going to be gifting this piece – a vintage find you may have picked up.
- You'll need some floral foam that will cover the base of your vase and some floral tape that you can pick up at any local craft store.
Brett's biggest piece of advice is to pay attention to the groupings. Grouping the roses and citrus in clusters gives a fuller, richer look.
- Cut wet floral foam (make sure you soak it first) into approximately 1 inch chunks and filling your vessel ¾ of the way full of chunks and water, so flowers will stay put and hydrated. Tape a grid across the entire opening of the vessel – this keeps the foam in place and also your blooms.
- Use the hydrangea as your floral base.
- Add accent layers: begin by incorporating your decorative greenery of choice – in this case, incense cedar was used. Brett says that the type of greenery you choose will alter the overall look of your arrangement.
- Add in your finishing elements, such as the roses and magnolia leaves.
- Save the citrus accents for last; style them in by inserting the pointed end of a wooden skewer into the fruit and cut the skewer to the desired length depending on where you're placing it in the arrangement.