Welcome back to Sound Garden! For today’s Sound Garden post, I have chosen the deep, dark, heavy rock and roll album Elephant by the White Stripes for our floral creation. Elephant debuted in 2003 and was most of the world’s introduction to the spooky duo of Meg White and Jack White. The White Stripes are a strange pair, no question about it, including their bizarre assertion during much of their career that they are brother and sister as opposed to husband and wife (they have since divorced). While their music on this album is stripped down rock and blues – recorded with vintage instruments and gear – the wild emotion and raw power of the songs feel very modern. Elephant is widely considered the finest work in their catalogue and has made multiple best albums of…lists over the years.
For our purposes, the cover art (which included 6 different versions internationally) and the overall style of the band serve as wonderful inspiration. Previously, I never understood the album title until I read Jack White’s explanation that if you look closely at the position of their bodies, along with the circus trunk and other props in the image, they form the shape of an elephant. The cricket bat and rope around Meg’s leg are tusks and Meg and Jack are the ears. The red and white colors (theme colors for the band) seem particularly appropriate for the Holiday Season, although Christmas with the White Stripes might be a less than traditional experience!
Follow along with me after the jump as I create a rich, bold arrangement and discuss designing without greens, using a monochromatic spectrum and mixing tropical flowers with garden blooms. -Sarah
How about those candy cane petals? The red and white anemones (coming into high season in the winter months) I selected are simply divine and seem grown exclusively for the purpose of paying tribute to the White Stripes. Other flowers chosen for this design include Black Magic roses, Black Beauty sweetheart roses, red parrot tulips, black anthurium, white ranunculus, black viburnum berry and brunia.
I feel this anemone is staring at me.
This opaque, white glass vases is a great vessel for experimenting with a modern shaped arrangement. A square vase can be challenging when arranging flowers with no greens – the blooms can flop into the corners – but I will show you a few tips for making it work. Once you have mastered designs without greens, you can create a stylish look with very few materials and it is something you can achieve “on the go.” I have many occasions where I have to quickly pull together some flowers (grabbing flowers from the bodega on the way to someone’s party) and I will choose only 2-3 bunches of tulips, roses, etc. When I put them in a small vase, arranged low and tight and without the use of greens or filler, they take on a sophisticated air, even though I didn’t spend a fortune or devote a lot of time to the design.
One way to jazz up a simple arrangement is by using a monochromatic spectrum. You can try using two flowers with slightly different shapes and of subtly different shades within the spectrum. Here, I have chosen very open Black Magic roses (got them cheaper because they were a few days old!) and petite Black Beauty sweetheart roses. When you put flowers together that go from brighter to deeper hues, you can create wonderful texture within the vase without getting involved in complicated color selection. For example, I just did a winter wedding using all red roses, which might have felt very standard had it not been for the wide range of shades, shapes and sizes we used.
Forget what you have heard about mixing tropical flowers with garden flowers – I do this all the time (using orchids – or in this case anthurium – with roses and other more classic blooms). I say, the weirder, the better…it is all about kicking up the visual interest. This black anthurium (so waxy and solid, almost looks like plastic!) just called to me for the White Stripes. The Gothic vibe of this band absolutely required some flowers with black tones.
Starting with the sturdy viburnum berry and brunia, I created a grid to serve as the bones for this arrangement. Although we have discussed using a tape grid or filling the vase with more substantial greens in the past, designing without the assistance of those tricks is a great way to refine your skills. The biggest pitfall is if you don’t cut these elements short enough. Cut everything down so that it falls just above the neck of the vase – this way the stems are balanced and won’t tumble out as you add more blooms. Trust the grid of stems! The more you practice with it, you can eventually design an entire arrangement of just blooms (no greens or filler to speak of).
You can see that once I started adding the roses, they were able to sit in the arrangement exactly where I wanted them, supported by the grid of stems. Look at that Black Beauty sweetheart rose, propped at attention in the center.
Add parrot tulips in an orange-y red to lighten things up and introduce a more tubular shape. Don’t forget that tulips “grow” in an arrangement, so expect that they will peek out from the other blooms by day 2. Sometimes I cut them a little shorter to compensate for this.
Go ahead – fall in love with those anemones and mix in a little fluffy ranunculus for a white pop.
Notice how the anthurium take the completed arrangement from average to unique?
And things just got creepier.
I truly enjoy mixing textures – the soft, feather-y anemones and ranunculus with the stiff berries and anthurium make for an arrangement that begs a second look.
Join me back here in 2013 for more spectacular journeys in music and flowers. My two favorite media are sure to keep me on my toes in the coming year as I look to create interesting posts for the readers!
Happy New Year to all and here’s hoping that each of you gets your hands on some flowers, filling your home with a little freshness during the season. My constant reminder…resolve to be unafraid of playing with design! The art of flower arranging is one of the more accessible and pleasurable ways to be creative. Trust the flowers and trust yourself.