flowerssarah from blossom and branchSound Garden

Sound Garden: Everything All the Time

by SarahB

Everything All the Time is the debut album from Band of Horses, and JUST LOOK AT THE COVER. It’s like this album was sitting in my collection absolutely begging me to make something forest-y and inspired. It also happens to be one of my favorite albums from one of my most beloved bands.

In 2006, Band of Horses released the raw and melancholy Everything All the Time. The lead singer/band leader, Ben Bridwell, is kind of an esoteric dude, and he has said that he doesn’t really know what his own lyrics mean and that at times, he purposely tries to obscure the sounds of the words he sings so you can’t understand them. The strange thing is that I have always found their music to be very emotionally affecting and relatable, despite not always getting exactly what’s going on in any given song. I am also really obsessed with the unrefined, almost tinny quality of Ben’s voice, especially when backed by highly textured harmonies and his powerhouse band.

Bridwell is from South Carolina, so there is a folky twang to the band’s sound, but he established the group in Seattle, so they also have a heavy indie flavor. Even though Band of Horses has only released four albums thus far, they are each deserving of a good, long listen. A fun fact about Band of Horses: One of their most desperate and powerful ballads (and my favorite song of theirs), “No One’s Gonna Love You,” from their second album, Cease to Begin, was once covered by the kooky Cee Lo Green! And it is AMAZING. Please download immediately.

Because this album cover is so overgrown and ancient-looking, I thought I’d create an arrangement in a mossed tin with an abundant mix of greenery. This week I’ll focus on how to green floral foam, how to keep it interesting with varying foliage and how to use muted shots of color. Follow along with me after the jump for the full how-to! — Sarah

Pictured from left to right: fern, eucalyptus, variegated pittosporum, olive branch, viburnum tinus

I cannot say enough about the power of greenery to make an arrangement. Mixing shapes, hues and textures using greens is the single best way to make an arrangement look sophisticated and robust without spending a ton of money. This also requires a refined eye. Because upscale blooms like garden roses and peonies speak for themselves, it doesn’t require nearly as much skill to put them together in a way that shines. But the danger with seasonal foliage is that there is a fine line between the design looking like a big mess and it looking like you picked exactly the right elements and placed them in the perfect spots.

Looking at the greens I chose for this arrangement, you’ll notice that I wanted to cover all bases: the fern is fluffy and feathery; the eucalyptus has a gorgeous, silvery hue with delicate leaves; the pittosporum has interesting variegation with a yellow tinge; the olive branch has a classic silhouette; and the viburnum tinus brings a feminine softness to the picture.

Pictured from left to right: spray rose, thistle, purple Queen Anne’s lace

And now for the feature flowers: a chocolate caramel spray rose; spiny cornflower blue thistle; and deep purple Queen Anne’s lace. Because I wanted the greens to have the greatest impact, I only used a few face flowers, each of which has a vintage tone. I wanted them to blend into the greens and look like they had “grown” in the arrangement.

I placed well-soaked floral foam blocks in this $7.99 mossed floral tin. I love an inexpensive, lightweight container, especially when using messy, heavy floral foam. People have mixed feelings about floral foam, but I think it is a really useful tool, especially when learning floral design. Creating a forest of greens with varying weights and thicknesses is much more complicated using tape, chicken wire or flower frogs.

Whenever I green, in whatever medium, I always select a few focal points. I like to use odd numbers, so here I have created seven focal points. You will need to build layers around each of these points. As you choose your clusters, make sure you are thinking of the big picture — the goal is to fill the entire container and obscure the foam. I started with one in the middle and three on either side, moving from back to front; it is important not to have a single plane of greens.

In the initial placement of focal points, use mostly taller elements to establish the overall height of the arrangement. I always work on the structure of the arrangement using stiffer, more architectural greens and then move on to the softer, bushier elements. As with any design, you start with the skeleton or the rough sketch and then fill in with the flesh. Also consider the shape as you green. You can already see that I have some foliage beginning to drape while others are standing tall. I am so obsessed with the look and feel of the olive branch that I decided to place several branches up high and cluster a few that have actual black fruit on the lower right.

I really feel the fern brings this one home. I simply fanned a showy cluster on the front left side and then filled in around other focal points with the fern. Some viburnum tinus placed down low provided a little softness and the white, representing the album’s title script.

In the finished product above (including the sparse placement of face flowers), you can see that the greening was a result of a thoughtful, intentional process. This arrangement has wonderful movement and looks appropriately spooky, moody and Victorian for my taste.

A close-up of olive, fern and viburnum.

Such sweet and delicate blossoms on the viburnum!

Waxy, leathery fern is a very traditional green, but when used with funkier foliage, it has a bolder character.

What a complex and fascinating album to use as a jumping-off point! I do highly recommend Band of Horses, but perhaps I should delve into something brighter and more pop-y for the next post. I might need a break from sad male artists :) Please join me back here in two weeks for more Sound Garden!

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  • Love love love Band of Horses! I’m so glad to see that you created something inspired by their amazing music.

  • I, sadly, don’t know this band… but I won’t let that stop me from appreciating the beauty of this arrangement! So lush and wonderful!

  • I too am a HUGE Band of Horses fan.. absolutely love them. They may be my #1 favorite (it’s a tie between them, and The National)
    Sound Garden is my most favorite series that you do..so unbelievably gorgeous every time.

  • I live in brooklyn, where can i go to buy a small amount of flowers like this that’s not the grocery store or a flower shop? The grocery store doesn’t sell flowers by the stem, and most flower shops near me don’t have nearly this kind of range, especially with greenery. If you can point me in the right direction, I’d be very grateful. Your arrangement is beautiful!

  • Such a gorgeous arrangement, inspired by one of my favorite bands. I walked down the aisle to “No One’s Gonna Love You.” <3

  • BOH is one of my favorite bands. seeing them in concert on a perfect, warm fall evening in berkeley will probably always be in my top 5 moments. thanks for giving them some much deserved love!

  • Oh so lovely–and oh how I wish the images were a little larger and higher resolution! I’d love to have one of these as my desktop background…

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