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Arranged Marriages (of flowers, of course) – How do you choose the right container?

Floral arrangement
“I have a simple way to judge the proportions when I look at flowers in vase. It should not look like the vase is swallowing the flowers or that the flowers are climbing to get out of the vase” – Evelyn Kinville

When I have flowers in my home, my own search for “the right container” always, always starts with knowing where the finished arrangement will go (my aesthetic feelings would be easily hurt if the container was not the right character for the space). My personal repertoire of containers includes those that are small or tall or narrow or wide, shallow or deep…made of glass or metal or ceramic or wicker. I use many of them as decorative accents even when they are not holding flowers. My favorite places to put arrangements are in my entry way or on an antique trunk that serves as a coffee table in the living room. I’m sure you have favorite flower places too.

Sometimes the flowers drive the container choice…like when I had a neighbor that let me cut her hydrangeas! They were big and blue and begged to go in my large Delft pitcher. If you grow flowers that you can bear to cut, or someone brings you flowers then the flower choice most likely will drive the container choice.

Or…there are other times, when it is clear that the container must be first. It is in charge of deciding what flowers you will use. It’s your favorite pitcher or metal urn or ceramic vase. Maybe it was a gift and you can’t wait to put flowers in it. So buy (or cut) some flowers or foliage or branches and enjoy arranging them.

If the container is new to you, taking it along when you choose flowers might help you get the right number and types. The right flowers are ones that you like in your colors and that fit your décor and the container’s character (casual, formal, rustic, etc.) Buying or cutting a few extra is not a bad idea…things happen, you know.

Naturalistic, somewhat unstructured looks are very popular. Pick up any home décor magazine for inspiration and validation. A very “in” look is having flowers very close to the top of the container in a low “mound”… almost as if the vase were wearing a “cap” of flowers. Many of my customers at The Behnke Florist in Potomac would bring in a favorite container and say “please don’t make it look like a florist made it.” I understood and also love that look!

For photos and great tips, try a book called “Fast Flower Arranging” by famous floral designer and author, Jane Packer. She devotes many pages to showing a variety of vases with flowers in them. The arrangements (sometimes called displays) are uncluttered so the photos make it easier to judge the size of the vase compared to the height of the flowers. I have a simple way to judge the proportions when I look at flowers in a vase. It should not look like the vase is swallowing the flowers or that the flowers are climbing to get out of the vase.

I love the simple beauty of flowers, not art created from flowers. Flowers have natural beauty and when placed in a container that has beauty, to me it is a “mariage”.

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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