Arrangement of The Month: Floral Mandala


I’ll admit it—I first came across the concept of mandalas by way of Yoga Jones, the pot dealer turned reformed new age guru from Orange Is The New Black. Despite my less-than-ideal introduction to these beautiful, cross-cultural works, I’ve become quite taken with them and their meaning as of late. Seen in numerous world religions from Hinduism to Christianity, mandalas are most commonly meant to represent the wholeness of the universe, their symmetrically-designed structures often used as the basis for meditation and transcendental thought. In Buddhist traditions, one can find temporary mandalas made from colored sand. In Christianity, they can be found in the rose windows of churches. This particular mandala, crafted for us by Lisa Prystup of James’s Daughter Flowers, is made from flowers and can be constructed easily from common, everyday blooms. Check out Lisa’s full project and directions after the jump! —Max


Flowers Used:

  • White sweet clover
  • White and purple chrysanthemums
  • Greenery
  • Blue thistle
  • Alstromeria


“I bought a handful of hearty (and cheap) bodega flowers because they seem to last FOREVER and I knew I would feel a little less terrible about dismantling them,” Lisa says. “There’s really no need to spend a lot of money on obscure fresh flowers as you’ll be breaking them apart to create the mandala anyway. I looked up mandala patterns online and then sketched out my own version to follow as a rough template – the thing about mandalas is there is no hard and fast rule— just pay attention to the geometric proportions and try not to over-think it (as I came precipitously close to doing myself). It’s a really zen-like experience —the action of dismantling the flowers to create something beautiful and impermanent — and it really makes you look at flowers differently. There are so many levels of design and aesthetic value to these lovely creatures and beauty to all of their components: from the shape of their leaves and petals to the alien looks of their stamens. You can use the flowers as a whole in the design and also break them apart to use their petals to create new patterns—it’s a sort of doodling.”




1. Buy flowers from your local bodega or supermarket. Try to grab about 5-6 kinds.
2. Sketch out a template – you can find many to go off of if you just Google “mandala templates.”
3. Dismantle your flowers! Use petals and leaves to create new patterns. You can also keep some of the flowers whole. There really are no rules—just explore the individual design components of the flower and have fun!
4. Lay out the pieces in your mandala pattern.
5. Step back and admire!



Sarah H

This would be a nice concept for a garden, too, to plant a living mandala. Kind of like a medicine wheel garden, but floral :) The above is very pretty!


Check out the #flowermandala hashtag on Instagram. There is some beautiful work on there. I particularly like @kawaspics @kirstenrickert @faithevanssills @winsomehollow


May I just point out that your reference to the concept of a mandala is rather vague and superficial? As an agnostic and a non-practicing Hindu, I would hesitate to venture forth on the subject myself, but the concept of a mandala is distinctly derived from ancient Hindu treatises, and while they are obviously manifest in other religions, the idea that a rose window embodies the concept of a mandala smacks of cultural appropriation. I understand that this was not intentional and is not the point of the article, but I think such cases of casual hegemonic appropriation are dangerous in their propensity to rewrite history through dominant discourses.

Grace Bonney


I think Max gave a short but very thorough description of mandalas, mentioning their origin, cross-cultural appearances, meaning and how they appear in various religions. Pointing out that the circular shape of rose windows resembles mandalas is not only an accurate one, it’s also a point commonly made in art history and historical papers. To connect the dots between two different religious artistic traditions is not cultural appropriation, it’s historical observation. I would understand if you objected to the idea of people connecting mandalas with flowers, as it’s a more decorative, and less religious, use of the concept, but to point out the mandala’s influence and affect on different cultures is not in fact cultural appropriation.