Step-by-Step Floral Design Tips From Biltmore

Biltmore Estate floral designer Simone Bush shares her expertise to help you create an amazing flower arrangement.

Stunning Arrangement

To create this arrangement using a variety of textures and colors, Biltmore Estate master floral designer Simone Bush used the following flowers and foliage: 'Movie Star', "Santana', 'Senorita' roses; stock; calla lilies; juniper; cedar; bridal wreath spirea; hosta; solomon seal; mature ivy and chocolate vine.

Biltmore Vessels

At Asheville, North Carolina's Biltmore Estate a team of floral designers including master floral designer Simone Bush, create 6-7 fresh arrangements each week and have an enormous workroom featuring an endless variety of vessels and a space to create. Bush prefers "wispy, frilly" romantic, English-style arrangements with a "Downton Abbey" feel.

Lazy Susan

Biltmore Estate floral designer Simone Bush recommends using a lazy susan placed under your chosen container to help you see your arrangement from all angles, and to make adding flowers easy.


Feel free to incorporate foliage from your own yard when creating arrangements, including evergreens, vines and foliage of different hues and textures.

Add Hosta

Lush, large hosta leaves make ideal filler for an arrangement. Bush recommends you cut greens in the morning before the sun is up when the sugar level in the plant is high and greens are looking their best. Use your greens to create a "web" of greenery at the base of the vase.

Fill in Greens

Criss-cross greens in the base to create a web and fill in your arrangement.


Even in winter, when it appears there is nothing in bloom, you can find elements for arrangements in your garden, line evergreens, lichen branches or pine cone boughs. Remember to cut your foliage stems at an angle and remove any foliage that will sit under water.

Arrange Your Evergreens

Provide a base for your arrangement with evergreens which will then be filled in with color.

Continue Layering

Don't limit yourself to one type of green: use multiple varieties to create texture and a range of color in your arrangement.

Light Green

Hosta leaves provide a bright burst of green color in this arrangement.

Different Shades of Green

Keep turning your vase as you work to make sure you are filling in equally on all sides of your arrangement.

Coming Together

Measure flower and foliage stems against your container to make sure they are the right height. Don't be afraid to cut stems to fit.

Lush Hydrangea

A good rule of thumb when creating an arrangement is to start with the biggest flower first.

Big Impact

Bush advises "be creative, be yourself" when creating arrangements. "Don't put too much pressure on it being perfect."

Vertical Fronds

Think both horizontally and vertically when assembling your arrangement. Bush advises "be creative and think of how flowers grow naturally in their environment, use that concept in your designs."

Adding a Vertical

Arrangements should be dynamic and have movement. The vertical element is especially important to create a spectacular arrangement that will hold its own in a large room or on a massive sideboard or table.

Unfurl a Closed Rose

If you want to give a lusher, fuller appearance to a closed rose, don't hesitate to spread the petals yourself, advises Simone. Remove petals and open up the flower if you like to give greater variety to the roses in the arrangement. Above all, don't be afraid to manipulate your blossoms. And don't discard those petals: use them to create a lovely tableau at the base of the arrangement.

Mix Up Color

Integrate the same flower in different shades. When buying flowers don't purchase the most wide-open blooms. "Try to go for roses that are very tight, as opposed to squashy and loose." When buying flowers, remember Bush's simple tips: 1. Gently shake the bouquet to make sure flower blossoms are intact. 2. Fold down the cellophane wrapper to check for mold or soggy stems. 3. Flowers should smell fresh and new. 4. Gently squeeze rose heads to make sure they are firm.

Embrace Imperfection

For that elegant English look, use flowers at different stages in their maturity: some tight, some loose and even pull off petals to create this open, loose flower form.

Rotate Your Arrangement

Don't forget to use that lazy susan to your advantage and keep rotating the arrangement to make sure it looks great from all sides, especially important if you are creating the arrangement for a centerpiece where it will be seen from all angles. "Keep the eye moving with layers and movement," says Bush.

Closed Flowers Work Too

Peonies will not continue to open if cut, but you can still use the beautiful sense of expectation and unusual form of a closed flower in your arrangement. Also, remember when cutting flowers with pretty foliage that you can use those cut leafy stalks to fill in the arrangement with greenery.

Closed Buds

Some closed buds included in your arrangement will help prolong the life of your arrangement and give it interest over time.

Add Variety of Greens

You want to keep things from being too symmetrical. This bleeding heart, peeking out from the arrangement, adds a whimsical form to the composition.

The Vertical and the Horizontal

Create a sense of movement by employing longer elements with dangling fronds or flowers. Tuck some flowers in deep and leave others cascading out, away from the vase.

Hit Up Your Garden

You can find all or most of your arrangement filler in your own garden.

Create Movement

This delicate petite Japanese maple branch is a way to inject movement into the arrangement.

Color, Movement, Variety

To keep your arrangement fresh, Bush advises changing out the water daily. "If it's foggy, it's got bacteria in it," she says. When purchasing store bought flowers, ask for an extra package of floral preservative, which works better than homespun bloom sustainers like aspirin. Floral preservatives contain not only anti-fungal properties, they boost blooms, and act as "floral food," notes Bush.

Shop This Look