Flower Arranging: A Competitive Activity

Time stands still for no one and nothing and that includes formal flower arranging. Forty-five years ago my mother belonged to the local Flower Club. The ladies used to meet once a month with visiting guests demonstrating how to create pedestal, triangular and cascade arrangements amongst others. My mum’s favourite was the Hogarth Curve.

And, as with every other aspect of life, arranging flowers has fashions and favourites and, of course, time inexorably ticks on bringing gradual change, though not uniformly and not for everyone. Here’s a wee snapshot of a formal pedestal competition. The brief was titled ‘In Memory’ with the entrants free to choose a well-known person as their subject as well as their source of inspiration.

This arrangement ‘In Memory of Edith Cavell’ by Maggie Morton won Best Use of Colour, First Prize and Best in Show.
This arrangement won Second Prize. The judge commented “A delightful pedestal with great movement depicting your chosen subject. This needs a stronger link to the base of the design”. Area Judge, NAFAS.
Third Prize was awarded to Julia Morley for ‘In Memory of Kevin Beattie’. The judge noted “A beautiful design depicting your chosen subject. Maybe a few less accessories would improve the overall look of the arrangement.”
This was my personal favourite “Remembering David Hockney”. This arrangement, despite having an interesting palette, was not to the judge’s taste who commented “An unconventional approach to a pedestal design. The landscapes are rather flat and would be improved by using bolder local flowers.”

Now I realise that the ‘pedestal’ form of arranging flowers is the epitome of formal flowers, not least as it is still used in churches, but isn’t it time to loosen up the form a little. There were a further two, different flower competitions in the Floral Marquee at the recent Suffolk Show, but no entries were to my taste. I wandered away, disappointed and moved on to the displays from the local growers and nurseries. Now this was a completely different story.

Horticultural specialists arranged their flowering beauties as if they were at last month’s Chelsea Flower Show. Thoughtful form and colour combinations bedecked their stands in an informal, naturalistic celebration of plant possibilities for your garden. I can’t help but feel that in these times of climate crisis that the formal displays of cut flowers could move towards a more informal regime to include naturalistic designs and wildflower arrangements perhaps even reflecting local biodiversity.

Bearded iris with white alliums as part of a nursery display.

If you would like to see a more contemporary approach to flower arranging have look at the displays produced by florists The Flower Appreciation Society.

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Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

9 thoughts on “Flower Arranging: A Competitive Activity”

  1. I reflect on the flower arrangements I have been familiar with over the years and mostly it’s church flowers or…funeral arrangements. Hmmm. I need to broaden my exposure. Anyway, I agree with you, I’d like to see more arrangements along the lines of including even some weeds (I’ve been thinking about this as I exercise outside this time of year and have been noticing so many good-looking plants along the trails, roadsides, etc…)

    1. Ah yes the benefit of weeds. There is a movement over here in UK to get the parks and roadside people to allow more wildflowers aka weeds to grow to benefit wildlife in general and bees in particular.

      1. I think it makes good sense not only for the animals and insects, but… saves labor and money. Plus I like the look of it so much more than neatly mowed median strips on highways which are already boring enough…

  2. As I’m the kind of person that tends to stuff bunches of flowers in a handy jug (old fashioned pinks this week) I think flower arranging trends are way above my pay grade. Ah well …

  3. I’m so inept at flower arranging that for the last few weeks I’ve been buying a pre-made, boxed, arrangement at the local markets. I get about a week or even ten days out of it, even though I struggle with how to get the water into the oasis without dislodging or breaking something. This week’s includes yellow roses and purple Singapore orchids. Two of my favourite colours 🙂

    1. Ah roses and orchids how lovely. And, I see you have some fabulous native flowers in your part of the world. I love the fiery colours of those spiky leucospermums and, of course, the flower arrangers favourite foliage, immature eucalyptus leaves.

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