For this edition of Sound Garden, I’m excited to pay homage to the gorgeous album, “Summerteeth.” If you are like me, Wilco is a band that will haunt your dreams and get under your skin. I am huge fan and this gorgeous third album is one that I return to often. Although it was released in 1999, the textured, sad, strange melodies hold up and I am constantly hearing something new with each playback. And just look at the ethereal album cover design – it is practically begging for a spooky, fall floral arrangement! –Sarah
The post continues after the jump with a full how-to for the arrangement….
I started this arrangement with inspiration from the dusty blue hue of the title on the cover. I chose blue thistle and paired it with the round shapes of brassica cabbage blossoms, white dahlia and moonscape-like globes of silver brunia. I also chose muted, grey seeded eucalyptus for accent. Black dahlia and rich eggplant CARNATIONS (!!) provide the dark contrast and bring a moody quality to the arrangement, matching the music. Do not adjust your screen, I did say carnations. I secretly love carnations – when used properly (clustered and designed low and tight in an arrangement) and if you pick an “heirloom” variety (a carnation in an unusual shade or with some variegation), carnations can be a wonderful and cost-effective addition to your design. I also go crazy for their sweet, powdery fragrance… I am unashamed :)
BACK TO BASICS: I selected a silver urn to reflect the cool palette of the arrangement. Here, it’s important to discuss two different techniques for providing a canvas within your vessel. Particularly when you choose a container with an unusual shape, you can make your life infinitely easier by creating 1) a tape grid or 2) lining with floral foam before designing. A tape grid is an excellent, no-fuss method for making a framework – you can get thick, rubbery floral tape at any floral supply store and many craft stores. Then, simply cross-hatch the tape over the mouth of the vessel. You should place the tape on a dry vessel so it sticks well and then pour water in between the tape lines with a pitcher to keep from spilling over. Lastly, be mindful of how far down the vessel you allow the tape to creep – use as little as possible, as you will want to cover the tape pieces later with greens or flowers.
Above, you see the completed framework, ready for action.
Another technique is filling the container with floral foam. Floral foam can also be found at any floral supply store or many craft stores. Choose a block of foam and fill a bucket of water for soaking your foam.
IMPORTANT TIP: Never, ever press the foam down into the water. You can rush the soaking process and create dry spots inside the block of foam. Instead, drop the foam lightly in the water and leave it be. Let it sink down all on its own until fully submerged. The foam should soak at least 15-20 minutes before it is ready for shaping and placing in the container.
Cut the foam down into the appropriate shape for the vessel and stretch a piece of tape across the top. The tape is a security measure against the foam pulling out of the container after you start designing. When you have completed the framework with whichever technique, set about creating a structure of greens. Here, I used seeded eucalyptus, which has the advantage of draping over the sides of the container, hiding the tape and the neck of the vase.
Hello, dusty miller. With the addition of silver brunia, seeded eucalyptus and blue thistle, this thing is starting to look far out. For a super funky moonscape, you could just stop here! Not a face flower in sight! But, let’s press on…
BRASSICA BLOSSOMS: Playing with veggies and fruits in an arrangement can be a fun way to punch up the visual interest. Here, I took brassica cabbage and used it as a bloom. First, peel away the lower leaves on the stalk.
Then, begin to fold back the remaining leaves and open the blossom. The leaves are tough and waxy and will stay open once you fold them back.
Get each layer peeled and you will see an incredible blossom emerge.
And here are those dark patches of black dahlia and clustered, purple carnations.
Fluffy, ivory mondial roses of the regular and spray varieties complete the design. I love the mix of rough and feather-y textures. This is a common theme in my arrangements and something you can achieve with even the most ordinary blooms. If you pair tulips and roses from the local grocery store and then add in a waxy filler or green that is unusual, you can evoke a similar effect.
The black dahlia capture the stormy feel of the music on Summerteeth and the tail end of 90’s angst.
Don’t ever shy away from strange color combinations or unexpected textures when creating floral arrangements. The more you play with things, the more sophisticated you can make your designs. You can even try mixing some non-floral, organic or non-organic materials in with fresh flowers. I suspect you will hear more about this idea in a future post from me :) Have fun expressing yourself and please give Summerteeth a listen, if you haven’t already. Join me back here in two weeks as I explore another musical gem and see where the flowers take me.