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Book Review-The Fine Art of Flower Arranging

“The Fine Art of Flower Arranging. This was published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in association with The Garden Club of America. The text is by Nancy D’Oench, coordination by Bonny Martin, and photography by Mick Hales with a foreword by Bobbie Hansen, president of Garden Club of America, 1991-2001 and Ann Frierson, president from 2001-2003.

This book really does live up to its name. From beginning to end the designs are just breathtaking. There are over 160 photos in full color. It also features historical photos and illustrations. The goal of the authors was to inspire readers, and help them view floral design as an art form. And the book far exceeds their expectations.

For each design, there is a full-color photo, title, designer’s name, description, and explanation as to what materials were used.

It opens with a wonderful introduction to floral design history in the west, and tells how Ikebana has influenced modern-day flower arranging.

Section 2 deals with places one can see and display floral designs. The first three chapters in this section pertains to flower shows with captivating entries of various kinds. One deals with tables, and another with pedestals. There’s also a very interesting chapter on wearable floral design, including decorated hats, and jewelry inspired by flowers.

Recently, art museums and garden clubs have organized events called ‘Art in bloom,’ ‘Bouquets to Art,’ and ‘Fine Art and Flowers.’ Essentially the floral designer creates a floral design based on her interpretation of a particular painting. One chapter in the book deals exclusively with this. It has color photos of the painting, and the designs that the floral arrangers designed along with a thorough discussion of each.

Following that, there is a fabulous chapter on special designs for outdoors and particular situations. As an example, there is one on a pedestal entitled ‘Rock and Roll’ located alongside Elvis Presley’s pink Cadillac at Graceland. It features two spheres of magenta carnations on a blue base.

The appendices are just filled with helpful information. One deals with flower arranging study groups and how garden club members can spread the word and share their experiences at such meetings. Many people have been introduced to floral design through the clubs, and this is a great place to learn basic and advanced techniques.

The book also features practical information on how to condition flowers, and innovative ways to provide them with support beyond the usual wire.

There are also lists of flower shows with their dates and locations along with a glossary, a list of recommended books, and sources for floral design
materials.

The designs are so impressive that I find it hard to pick favorites. I’m impressed with “Colors That Complement” by Carole R. Reid, featuring a purple backdrop that emphasizes three airy, yellow seed heads of a flowering onion. “Wreath in the Wetlands” features a base made of curly willow set with white china, green apples, white flowers, and pitcher plants.


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