“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘let’s party!’” – Robin Williams.
There’s something in the air, and it’s utterly exhilarating. Scents of blossoms, narcissi and hyacinth, leaving the house without a coat, footwear that doesn’t weigh you down, and promising new shoots popping up on the stark, black ground. Everything feels lighter.
For this how-to, I wanted to combine such a fresh time of year with something that we are increasingly creating as a focal point for celebrations and events — stair flowers. I am always drawn to a good staircase, I think it must hark back to my childhood: being the youngest of four, I frequently would find myself sitting on the stairs listening in to the older conversations or wildly flying down them with friends in sleeping bags. More recently, the stairs have become a place where I sit with my children to reflect, to calm the heck down. There’s a slightly magical notion, too, that they lead you somewhere. What better place to adorn with a wild and rambling arrangement than the center of the home?
My friend Camilla’s hallway is bright and airy. The stairs are a little crooked. There are Danish numbers on a black-painted runner that count you up the stairs. It was everything I could dream of for this elaborate spring party centerpiece. —Anna Potter
Photography by India Hobson
I have tried and tested other methods using chicken wire, shallow containers, moss, but nothing seems to hold the height — and work practically — like the dreaded floral foam. In this instance it really does work like a treat. I used 5 individual bricks for this project, which could increase/decrease depending on how much of the stairs you wish to cover. To soak the foam, you simply float them in a large bucket of water and wait for them to fully sink. I then place them onto a plastic tray and secure with waterproof tape.
Position the foam on the stairs, one on each step – I skipped a step a couple up from the bottom, as I knew the tall flowers would bridge that gap easily. The foliage and branches of blossoms were first up. I used both the greenery and branches to create the structure and overall shape of the arrangement, they are also key to covering the base of the foam, which will eventually be unseen. Where possible, I tried to not have foliage drifting onto the steps (safety hazard!) and focused on height, bits that weave around and splay out of the banisters. Foliage like the nice, full privet berries and wide tulip leaves provided great coverage, hiding the foam from view.
I started first with the tallest flowers, following the shape of the foliage, jutting out of the banisters and climbing up the stairs. The eremurus (or fox tail lily) added dramatic height with its long, straight stem, especially when paired with the tall, bendy Fritilaria Percisca. The bolder, statement flowers were next. For these I had chosen fresh, bright hues of coral, apricot and peach to really pop against the neutral monotone of the stairs. The Icelandic poppies, double tulips and anemones all worked so well with their wiggly stems, weaving around and shooting out in all directions. The hellebores were perfect for placing lower down amongst the foliage to cover the foam and to add a lower level of interest in the arrangement. And lastly the ranunculus, muscari and narcissi were a perfect size to dot amidst the other flowers in areas that required more color or shape.
Perhaps this is something my six-year-old self dreamed up whilst ear wigging one night (minus the fairies and the My Little Ponies). Perhaps I’m living an imaginary life where I actually have spring parties. But I’m certain that this totally impractical, magical piece of spring would welcome and wonder any guest.