Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Though the summer is drawing to a close, our gardens should still have lots of cut flowers for the coming months. This seems a good time to look at some floral design books.
From Creative Publishing International comes a number of excellent recent titles. “Simple Floral Displays’ by Jenny Raworth features chic, natural-looking designs using both fresh and artificial blossoms, fruits, and foliage. It features over 20 quick projects with easy, illustrated step-by-step directions. These designs require 30 minutes or less. Of the projects using fresh florals, my favorites are the sage and rosehip wreath and the Shaker-style cranberry heart. There are inspiring ideas for every season—from spring centerpieces to ideas for the winter mantelpiece. Raworth is a best selling author and florist.
Though we may wish to use fresh florals, that isn’t always possible. When family members have serious allergies, it may not be a good idea to use fresh flowers on a routine basis. Anyone with an allergy to dust will surely appreciate artificials, for these can be cleaned. For these situations, the artificials make a lot of sense. In recent years, the quality of silk flowers and artificial materials has improved greatly. These are known referred to as permanent botanicals. My garden club always used them for Christmas decorations at the local hospital where fire codes called for fireproof materials.
Whenever fresh flowers are counter-indicated, I highly recommend “Fabulous Faux Florals” by Ardith Beveridge, also from Creative Publishing. The author is a master floral designer, educator, and video producer. She is certified by the American Institute of Floral Designers. Beveridge presents 50 gorgeous, easy to create designs in a wide variety of styles. There are ones for every sort of situation, including baskets, topiaries, swags, table decorations, branches, and wreaths. In the introduction, the author takes the reader through the basics of designs with details on how to choose and coordinate colors, information on the basic design shapes, and illustrated instructions on techniques. For each project, there is complete, color-illustrated directions. The projects are arranged by type with chapters for wreaths and wall designs, topiaries and branches, faux fruits and vegetables, and table arrangements. Each chapter features stunning seasonal and holiday ideas.
When it comes to Japanese floral design, Kodansha America ranks as the number one source. This company has made a number of titles from Japan Publications available to American readers. “Flower Arrangement With a Japanese Touch” by Atsuko Ono takes a unique approach to design. The author is a member of the Ikebana International, and has studied in both Japan and the U.S. As a result, she offers a fresh approach to design by combining ideas from both cultures.
Her designs are created specifically for today’s contemporary interiors. Yet, all the while she is able to remain true to the core principles of the Japanese style. There are enchanting ideas for different seasons, holidays, and occasions. She also includes a chapter on quick and easy arrangements that are just delightful. For these, she uses unusual materials and containers, including empty food containers and plastic film canisters. For each design, she provides a list of materials and full-color illustrated, step-by-step instructions. At the end of the book, she covers the basics of floral designs along with a color wheel and a directory of florals.
“Ikebana With Living Plants” by Ichiba Ashida is also from Kodansha/Japan Publications. The author combines the use of pot plants and fresh cuts to create appealing designs. The careful selection and placement of florals enhances the natural beauty of container plants, and can only increase our enjoyment of cut flowers. There are different ikebana forms, and for this book the author used the form depicting heaven, earth, and man. In the first part of the book, Ashida presents designs for various locations, such as tables and walls. Then, he presents various projects with lists of materials, complete illustrated instructions and color photos. He has wonderful ideas for gifts, entertaining, and the different seasons using various kinds of containers and plants.
For a no-nonsense approach to floral design, “Floral Design Step-by-Step-the Complete Guide to Basic Floral Design” by Nina Alcorn from Grace Publications can’t be beat. The author is a widely acclaimed floral design instructor, and conducts workshops and classes. This title is sure to help novice designers succeed. After helping students analyze their failures, she came up with a simple questionnaire for beginners. This helps folks plan what sort of arrangements they want to make, and where they would want to place it. Throughout the book, she emphasizes the fact that floral design should be fun, an approach that can help release one’s creativity. She covers all the basic techniques, tools, and materials.
There’s a floral design book to suit every need whatever one’s experiences and interests may be.