A floral foam display is ideal if you want to create a low, compact design or a defined shape on a larger scale. Learn how to create the rounded or graduated contours that characterizes these arrangements, here.
Floral foam must be soaked before you trim it, position it and then arrange the flowers and foliage. Drop a block of floral foam into a bowl or bucket of water and lift it out as soon as it appears to have completely absorbed water or sunk to the bottom of the bucket. Don’t leave it in the water too long or it will begin to disintegrate. It's also worth using a hand spray regularly while you work to refresh the flowers.
Use 6-8 stems each of two different types of foliage and 7-11 stems each of three varieties of flower (or 2-3 stems if using spray flowers) for this small arrangement. Condition your flowers and foliage. The stems will be cut quite short when you arrange them, so they don't need to be left too long when you condition them.
From left: white single roses, purple veronica, white lisianthus, salal stems and eucalyptus stems (image 1)
Place half a block of soaked floral foam in the shallow bowl, trim the corners of the foam with a craft knife and bind it to the bowl with stem tape (image 2).
Trim the smaller stems from the different sprays of foliage and use one variety of foliage to create a skeleton framework. Insert a stem at an angle in each side of the foam at the base (so the leaves are angled downward to hide the base of the bowl). Insert three stems in a line across the top of the foam. Press the stems firmly, but not too far, into the foam, about 3/4 inch deep.
Add a few stems of the second type of foliage at an angle to fill the natural spaces in the foam. You want to achieve an even, rounded shape with the angled leaves, but not all the foam should be hidden at this stage.
Use the largest flower heads next: Trim each stem to approximately 4 inches and insert it at an angle. Angle the flower heads inserted around the base of the foam downward, and those at the top angled upward. Give the flowers and foliage a quick misting.
Insert the flowers evenly around the arrangement. Move the arrangement around as you work so that you distribute the flowers evenly. Here, four flowers have been inserted around the lower part of the foam, and three around the upper part.
Add a smaller flower next; spire-shaped flowers work well in an arrangement like this. Insert them at an angle in between the first flowers. Allow these spiky flowers to rise up out of the arrangement slightly to break the rounded contours of the other blooms.
If you use a variety of spray-shaped flower, cut off the shorter stems to use as individual blooms. Insert them into any obvious gaps in the arrangement.
Turn the arrangement around one last time to check for any gaps or visible foam, and fill or cover them with a stem of foliage.
Give the flowers and foliage a good misting with a hand mister. Before putting the display in position, tilt it over a kitchen sink to allow excess water to drain away, then dry the base of the container; this is especially important if you intend to hang a floral foam display as a pew end, for example.
To prolong the life of the flowers, the foam must be kept moist: every 3-4 days, sit the arrangement on the draining board of the kitchen sink and gently pour a jug of water over it. Then mist the flowers and foliage again.
Excerpted from Fresh Flower Arranging
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2011