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Arranged Marriages (of flowers, of course): Achieving Balance


Most of us enjoy looking at furniture or artwork or other decorative items in our living spaces…things that we love for their beauty or sentimental value. How we arrange or display them can make a striking difference in how much we enjoy them!

As a florist for many years in various flower shops across the country, one of my favorite responsibilities has been displaying decorative home accents that were for sale. I love the art of display! Recently I was paging through one of my interior decorating books, Metropolitan Home American Style by Dylan Landis. After years of doing display work, I was pleased to find this quote from Keith Johnson. It was an eloquent statement that described work that I love doing.

On page 171, Keith Johnson, then the antiques buyer and head of product development for Anthropologie says: “An arrangement should appear to have fallen into place by chance—an illusion that actually requires a sense of order.” Johnson is referring to an arrangement of old telescopes and framed artwork on a beautiful console table against a wall.


One can also apply his statement to flower arranging. The art of arranging flowers and the art of display definitely share things in common. Both require a sense of order. The sense of order comes from an understanding of visual weight and balance. Although it is a more complex topic, in simple terms larger objects (or flowers) have more visual weight than smaller ones. Darker colors have more visual weight than lighter colors.

Let’s assume that you would like to create a flower arrangement to go on a table against the wall (or an arrangement of favorite decorative objects). Stand back from the arrangement from time to time as you work. As you look at the arrangement think about where your eyes seem to go. If you have the same visual weight on the left as you do on the right, your eyes will comfortably rest somewhere close to the center of the arrangement. This is most likely the “focal point.” If your eyes seem drawn to either side, try moving objects or flowers. Your eyes will rest comfortably on the focal point when the visual weight is balanced.

For practice as you learn to arrange objects, home décor magazines or books have plenty of great pictures to study as examples. For flower arranging tips and photos try this website from time to time: little-flower-school.blogspot.com

This school is in Brooklyn and was featured in Martha Stewart Living in the February, 2012 issue.

A wedding florist in Virginia whose work I admire is Holly Heider Chapple. I often Google for Holly Heider Chapple photos, where I find lots of beautiful photography of flower arrangements. These are great photos to study!

When looking for balance, a sense of order always helps!

Posted By: Evelyn Kinville, Behnke’s Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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