Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Flowers are by far the most popular kind of materials we use in floral design. However, there are many other non-flowering things that are commonly available. Letís look at some and see how they can be used.
Greens and other plant materials are a godsend to floral designers. Take the leather leaf fern, for example. This is so common in the floral industry that it is simply referred to as leather leaf. This has become a staple so far as foliage is concerned.
When we tire of the usual greens, thereís no reason not to branch out and try something new. Some of the large-leaved tropicals that are commonly grown as house plants would be wonderful. However, when there are youngsters in the household I wouldnít use leaves from poisonous house plants, such as the dumb cane or dieffenbachia. The brightly colored, spiraling leaves of the new varieties of cannas would work very well.
Evergreen branches, both needled and broad-leaved, are a mainstay in floral design, especially for Christmas. But there is no reason they canít be used the rest of the year.
Fruits and berries of all sorts, including edible ones, are now becoming popular for use in floral design. Itís about time. In addition to the more common ones, give the artichoke a try. These add a rich, textural effect to designs.
Different kinds of ornamental berried stems make suitable floral materials. Castor bean stems with brightly colored pods are an example. Typically, these will be pink or red.
Fall brings numerous kinds of ripe fruits, such as holly berries. When fully ripe, Chinese lanterns are vivid orange. However, they are also used in their green state. They look much like a husk tomato.
Moss of all sorts is used in floral design. These can be used to cover topiary forms and Styrofoam balls to create sculptured accents for home dťcor. In some cases, this moss is bleached and dyed or tinted, mostly in shades of green.
Now all the things Iíve discussed thus far are in fact plant materials. However, there comes a time when we want to use non-plant things, such as colored sand, stone, rocks, and even sea shells. Moving on from that point it requires no stretch of the imagination to use unnatural or manufactured things. Some of the more common ones include baubles, pieces of glass, and glass beads. All of these have their place in floral arrangements. Some people even use colored water or brightly colored water crystals in vases. Depending on the occasion, colorful flower picks can offer a wonderful touch to an arrangement.
Where would floral design be without ribbons and bows? All of this leads us to a rather taboo subject that is for the most part avoidedóartificial flowers. Itís like ignoring the elephant in the room. No one wants to talk about it. The industry prefers to call these permanent florals, but this is just a euphemism. Each person has to decide how he/she feels about this issue, and regardless of how I feel I would never impose my opinion on others.
The ephemeral nature of fresh flowers only adds to their charm. We only have them around for a limited time, and they leave us with happy memories, which I donít get from even the most beautiful examples of artificial flowers.