Garden Diary - June 2019

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Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design, a book review
Thursday, 27 June 2019

In the interest of full disclosure I once again must inform you that I do not arrange flowers. A bunch of tulips or Dutch iris appear at the door on my birthday , to be thrust into a container. Or I receive an FTD arrangement, the floristic equivalent of paint by numbers. Clearly, there are others with a different skill set of what to do with cut flowers. Already this year, out of five meetings the Tohickon Garden Club has had not one but two programs on flower arranging.

Flowers are now everywhere available: at farmers markets, in supermarkets, foraged in field and forest. And everywhere, it seems, there are arrangements from casual and simple to elegant and outrageous, over the top. We see them in advertisements, Instagram, movies, in fashion shows. Have you ever wondered how do they do that, from concept to creation? Now there is a book that offers a look at stunning creations by floral designer / artists from around the world. It is

Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design

Close to 100 fashion editors, garden designers, magazine editors, floral designers, interior designers from the United States, Australia, the UK, Italy, Belgium, Brazil, China, South Korea were nominators. From their recommendations, 86 florists were selected whose work is featured in Blooms. Each featured floral designer / floral studio has a descriptive text piece, a generous half page, that provides background on the florist, how their company began, and the style / focus of their work. Is it naturalistic, perhaps romantic, esoteric, whimsical, sensuous, bold, vibrant, using exotic material or locally foraged. Options and possibilities, something for everyone.

It is the plethora of illustrations that provide even more of an insight into the range of floral design that is presented here. One large, often full page view of an arrangement (perhaps creation would be a better term), plus anywhere from two to several smaller illustrations, always ofother of their designs. Descriptive captions, but mostly no botanical names for the plants. This is, after all, not a work of horticulture. Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, I suppose, not Rosa.

Let's have a look -

Some floral designs with wedding flowers.
This lush romantic bridal bouquet by Ariella Flowers

Ariella Flowers (Ariella Chezar, New York) Picture credit: courtesy Ariella Flowers / Photograph by Corbin Gurkin
from a peony workshop: tulips, peonies, poppies
and fringe tree [Chionanthus virginicus]

Turn the pages and find what you fancy -

Cloud arrangements are three dimensional, floating in space, sometimes with
a minimal selection of material, other times eclectic, on a sturdy frame

Electric Daisy Flower Farm (Fiona Haser Bizony, near Bath, Somerset) Picture credit: courtesy Electric Daisy Flower Farm / Alma Haser
Electric Daisy Flower Farm's cloud structure made using willow and chicken wire, in August,
with summer flowers: roses, dahlias, antirrhinums, phlox, zinnias, crocosmias and mint.

Advertising must feature the product - and the flowers. This collaboration for Nike

Oblique Flower Design (Youngshin Kim, Seoul, South Korea) Picture credit: courtesy Oblique Flower Design
Oblique Flower Design's flower artwork features a thoughtful pairing
for Nike's React running shoe in pink, and harmonious cherry blossom.

Dutch floral paintings of the 16th century were often created over an extended period as flowers seasonally came into bloom. Today, flowers are available year round, even tulips in August. I was interested to see the entry for Michael and Darroch Putnam, as I had reviewed their Flower Color Guide (Phaidon, 2018) and attended their presentation at the New York Botanical Garden.

Putnam & Putnam (Michael and Darroch Putnam, New York) Picture credit: courtesy Putnam & Putnam
Dutch still-life arrangement for the Putnam & Putnam in-house portfolio.

However there are times when massive arrangements are over the top.
Something with a more casual, natural, looser aesthetic can sit on a table,

La Musa de las Flores (Gabriela Salazar, Valle de Bravo, Mexico) Courtesy La Musa de las Flores
such as a centerpiece using dahlias from La Musa's garden. [And dahlias
did originate in Mexico, so this is paying homage to the place and its past.]

Even more sparse, with a focus on stem and leaf as much as on the flowers,

Ariel Dearie Flowers (Ariel Dearie, New York) Picture credit: courtesy Ariel Dearie Flowers
Ariel Dearie Flowers aesthetic compares to ink brush paintings
where negative space, what is not there, is equally as important
as the brush strokes. Minimalist, Persian buttercup and begonia leaf.

What happens when leaves and flowers are regarded as material, to be manipulated?

Metaflora, a high end, luxury designer, works with luxury brands, using flowers
and leaves in a manner that steps aside from horticulture into abstraction.

Metaflora (Marissa Competell, New York) Picture credit: courtesy Metaflora/Nicole Alan Cope
Snipped leaves of Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) with lobster claw plants.

Glossy paper, quality photography, and the flower arrangements seem to leap from the page. Text is presented on a white background, the floral designs on color. Which changes, from designer to designer - soft pink, pale green, a Monet blue tint, pale lilac - carefully selected to set off the colors of the particular set of arrangements.

Eighty-six floral designers, each with their own style and techniques for making beautiful arrangements. Transient, the flowers will wither and fade, but the illustrations of arrangements presented in this book can be admired over time, again and again.

Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design, by Phaidon Editors
with an introduction by Clare Coulson
Phaidon Press Limited, New York, NY 10012
Hardback, 272 pages, 500 color illustrations, $49.95
ISBN 978 0 7148 7859 1
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher

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