Arranging your own flowers can be simple and fun

As spring flowers emerge, we all get the itch to cut some colorful blooms and bring them inside. Don’t be intimidated by the professional arrangements you see in floral shop windows. The pros make their arrangements pop with harmony, balance, texture and color. But you can make simple or full arrangements work nicely with a keen eye, your own creative touch and a few simple rules of threes.

Three basic designs

First, most flower arrangements follow one of three basic designs:

Line: Line arrangements have very few flowers, or little mass. Instead, long lines create design effects. The lines don’t have to be straight, but think simple and lean. Dried branches, leaves from a mother-in-law tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) and decorative wood make lines, as do some taller flowers, like gladiolas.

Mass: Mass arrangements tend toward the symmetrical. They’re full, and have generous amounts of flowers, usually in an oval, triangular or fan shape. Picture a Victorian still life painting loaded with a bunch of cut flowers.

Line/Mass: Take the best of both for a line/mass arrangement. Tall lines offset round or triangular mass forms. The asymmetrical arrangement often is more pleasing to the eye and gives you a chance to create a focal point with your favorite flower, foliage or an added bonus, like a seasonal ribbon or ornament.

Three elements

Asymmetry is key to most pleasing flower arrangements. It’s why designers suggest that the longest line (or tallest flower, branch, etc.) in your arrangement should be at least one and a half times the height of the container you’re using. If you go with a shorter item, you achieve a little too much balance!

So with asymmetry in mind, think of another rule of threes: In a simple mass or line/mass arrangement, aim for three different elements to keep your arrangement interesting, but not junky. Choose a tall, slender branch or flower for your line, and a separate mass item for the center bulk of the arrangement. Mass usually comes from a flower you want to feature, such as carnations, roses or gerbera daisies. Large leaves from hostas or geraniums or fruit also make great mass choices. Finally, add a filler for the lower area and to cover empty spots. Fillers usually are small leaves or flowers. The proportion really depends on the other items in your arrangement. And cut eat element at varying heights so they don’t all fall at the same eye level in your arrangement, unless you’re going for symmetry. Even then, mix up  the filler or colors a little bit.

And three pieces

If it’s symmetry you want, that’s great too. Just mirror each side of your arrangement. And try to use at least three pieces of each element. In other words, don’t just stick one carnation into an arrangement filled with daisies and baby’s breath. It’s OK to let one type of item, color or texture dominate your arrangement, but the poor carnation just looks lonely and out of place without a few buddies.

Most of all, don’t worry too much about the rules. If an arrangement appeals to your senses, chances are that it appeals to visitors and family members too. Put it in a conspicuous place and enjoy!