How to Create a Front-Facing Vase Arrangement

These step-by-step instructions show you how to arrange a vase of flowers in a simple but effective front-facing design.

Add Small Stems of Foliage to Final Arrangement

2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Fresh Flower Arranging

DK - Fresh Flower Arranging, 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

These straightforward steps will equip you with all the essential knowledge and skills you need to create any vase arrangement.

Before you arrange your flowers and foliage, cut the stems at an angle (keeping all the stems as long as possible until you arrange them), split any woody stems, take the pollen out of lilies (if using) and give them all a long drink in deep water.

Materials Needed:

  • flared vase
  • sterilizing tablet or flower food (if using a clear glass vase)
  • chicken wire (optional if using an opaque vase)
  • florist's scissors
  • foliage (2 types)
  • flowers (4 types)

Prep the Vase and Flowers

Fill a clean, well-washed, flared vase with fresh water and - if you are using a clear glass vase - add a sterilizing tablet. Sort all the flowers and foliage into separate piles. Ideally, you want to have 5-8 stems each of two different types of foliage and 3-5 stems each of four different types of flower.

(From left: eucalyptus and ruscus stems, pink lisianthus, dark pink snapdragons, pink single roses and pink lilies)

Mix of Flowers for Front Facing Arrangement

2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Fresh Flower Arranging

DK - Fresh Flower Arranging, 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Position the Stems in the Vase

Place 3-4 stems of one type of foliage in the vase (image 1). These stems will naturally fall at an angle against the sides of the vase, creating a loose fan shape, and form a basic framework. They are designed to be slightly shorter than the other foliage. If you use an opaque vase, insert chicken wire into the vase first to ensure that each stem rests at the correct angle (image 2).

Add More Foliage

Add the second type of foliage in between the first stems. Stand each stem in front of the vase first to compare it to the display and gauge how much to trim it (image 1). Then cut and split it again and add it to the arrangement at an angle. If it still looks too tall, recut it and arrange it again. Shorter stems of foliage should stand at the front of the vase, with longer stems at the back and sides.

Once you have built up a fan shape that is basic, but still quite sparse, stop adding any more foliage for now (image 2).

Add Flowers

Add the first variety of flower — usually those with the largest flower heads (image 1). Hold each flower stem at an angle in front of the vase where you think you would like to place it, then trim the end of the stem and insert it at an angle. At least one of these stems should be taller than the rest and stand at the back of the arrangement; stems placed at the front of the vase should be shortest.

Add the next variety of flower, angling each stem in front of the vase first to check its placing and height and then inserting it at an angle. Although you need to judge the length of each stem individually, the aim is to create a graduated shape that is low at the front and tall at the back (image 2).

Check the Arrangement From the Side

Turn the vase around so that you can view the display from the side and check on its graduated shape. If you use a clear vase, it's also worth glancing at the stems inside the vase at this point to check that they are positioned at an angle, which shows that you are building up the design in the correct way.

Spring Bouquet

Spring Bouquet

2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Fresh Flower Arranging

DK - Fresh Flower Arranging, 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Add More Flowers

Add the third variety of flower (image 1), checking the height and position of each flower before you add it to the design. Place these flowers evenly through the design where there are gaps.

Insert the stems of the last type of flower in the same way (image 2). Using four varieties of flower in a vase arrangement ensures a rich texture and range of color, and creates more movement through the arrangement.

Add small stems of foliage at the edges and front to hide the top of the vase. As these stems are shorter, ensure that they sit in water; top off the vase if necessary once you have positioned it. Change the water every few days and recut the stems; if you have used chicken wire, lift the whole arrangement, with the chicken wire intact, out of the vase, trim the stems and replace it in fresh water.

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