A bounty of small fruits line this arrangement of vivid orange euphorbia to create an unusual and interesting balance of form and color.
Euphorbia stems look like jets of orange petals spraying up into the air thanks to a design trick: they're arranged in a cut-down plastic water bottle with chicken wire inside, hidden within a glass vase of crab apples and kumquats. The arrangement will look very impressive on a buffet table at a Halloween or Thanksgiving gathering, on a hall table or in a contemporary white space. It should last for about five days before the fruits begin to look tired; you could then cut the euphorbia stems down and arrange them in a smaller vase for another five days or so.
Flowers and Foliage
20 'Fulgens' orange euphorbia
2 containers of crab apples
2 containers of kumquats
clear glass column vase (12 inches high)
1 large plastic water bottle
Molucella or cymbidium orchids (for euphorbia), cherries and chestnuts (for crab apples and kumquats)
1. Cut the top off the water bottle so that it becomes a straight-sided container, and place the chicken wire inside it. Half-fill the bottle with water and place it inside the center of the vase (image 1).
2. Tip some kumquats into the space between the bottle and the inside of the vase to form a thick layer — two to three rows high — that looks roughly even, but is still quite random. Use a garden stake to adjust the kumquats slightly so that they lie on their sides and conceal the water bottle (image 2).
3. Add some crab apples above the kumquats, distributing them evenly so that they form a layer roughly the same depth as the kumquats (image 3).
4. Add another layer of kumquats, using the garden stake to adjust slightly if necessary, then pour in a final layer of crab apples to fill the vase up to the rim (image 4).
5. Strip off the leaves from the base of each euphorbia stem to the point where the flowers start growing. These stems can be quite short; the design looks better if you can see the flowers rising out from the rim of the vase. Put four stems into the bottle and let them flare out naturally to the sides and the front and back to build up the basic framework for an arrangement that looks good from all sides (image 4).
6. Arrange the rest of the stems evenly throughout the arrangement and in the center to create height. Keep turning the vase around as you work to achieve an even, graduated shape on all sides. Then top off the bottle with water (image 4).
- Euphorbia releases a milky white sap if its leaves or stem are cut, which can be an irritant to people with sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, wear gloves when you handle these flowers.
- Keeping the leaves on the euphorbia stems adds to the "fountain" look. However, the leaves sometimes wither and drop before the flowers fade. Removing them altogether before arranging the flowers is always an option, if you prefer.
Excerpted from Fresh Flower Arranging
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2011