By Jill Brooke
Thanksgiving is not only about gratitude but abundance.
Flower arrangements of course enhance the decor and I’m going to share some of the favorites I’ve gathered for 2021. You can use these trends for any time of year of course but we tend to make more of an effort for this holiday. Plus, I so adore the autumnal colors that we get to work with for this season.
Jeff Leatham, who I loved getting to know at the Philadelphia Flower Show and when he created the spectacular orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden, has a great sense of drama and uses flowers and branches to create Balanchine like ballet choreography. The flowers just dance together in perfect symmetry.
Here he used tall branches mixed with orange and melon-colored calla lilies and orchids in varying heights. For his work at the Philadephia Four Seasons, he applied that concept by lining up terra cotta pots with leaves and then orchids. Very pretty.
And don’t think that you have to only use autumnal colors if you live in a warmer climate and want a more “nude” palette as he calls it. Here Leatham used white dyed asparagus ferns and beige-toned chrysanthemums – the flower of November – sensual proteas and dyed anthuriums and blush roses. Notice how the ferns are stretched on the top to a tall height and then balanced at the bottom with a draping effect that is like a ballet dancer doing a split or stretching her arms – but in this case, it’s the asparagus ferns.
Think of adding succulents or pumpkins as that added design flourish. Sit a pumpkin on the side of the arrangement for a richer effect. Notice how Yassi Taheri of Yassi Floral Design added succulents and put a berry in one to balance orchid blooms. Just put a pin through the berry into the succulent. Clever, right?
Or take stalks and then add orchids or succulents for a dramatic effect. More inexpensive too without using many flowers.
Hypericum berries now are bred in many colors – peach, red, lime green etc. So are llex berries – also known as winterberries. They can be added to an arrangement enhancing the end result like flavoring a treasured dish with thyme or rosemary. Here Anastasia Casale and her team at Sag Harbor Florists, who creates flower arrangements for Ina Garten’s holiday tables, has a winning recipe for flowers. She doesn’t tuck the llex berries deep into the arrangement but instead makes longer stems for more intrigue.
I noticed that McQueens Flowers took a similar approach this year as well with this arrangement. Senior florist Hamish Powell used sanguisorba – a new favorite to have – as well as flowering grasses and butterfly-like lilac clematis alongside what they call “blousy heads of garden roses, Blushing Bride Protea, orange Asclepias and silver olive foliage.”
This is all part of the global trend of more free-form designs and bringing natural elements into the home. In my own arrangement, I used billy balls – also known as Craspedia – for a similar effect.
Here Iris Blossom literally folded leaves to create an intriguing arrangement, filling up space. Just have a tall focal point and bookend it with wrapped leaves that you can tie together with wire. They used proteas, roses and orange roses to complete the look for a North Carolina client.
Paulina Nieliwocki of Blue Jasmine Floral also twists stems architecturally and has created a national name for herself with this approach. Many have been inspired by Dutch old masters but Paulina has modernized the look. As she calls it, “swoops on swoops.”
John Regan of Twisted Stem described his work as “edgy and elegant” which is catnip for his Illinois clientele. Here he uses one of my favorite “accessories” – the artichoke. The shape of this vegetable is elegant and also fills up space with depth and intrigue.
My friend Carolyne Roehm always uses fruit to enhance her arrangements. Here she used peaches to add a nice touch to the rose bouquet. I’ve been to her home when she’s also used apples in both green and red. Creates immediate warmth to more formal tables.
And Laura Dowling, the author of “Floral Diplomacy,” who was the White House florist for almost a decade, uses grapes for an interesting draping effect.
Ingrid Carozzi, the creator of Tin Can Studios, who also has a new book out called “Flower By Design” cuts oranges to create, well, juiciness to the arrangement. One can also use pomegranates as well for the cut fruit look.
Come on, it’s a special time. Order from a florist because they do have a magic touch and can get blooms that few can. And there is nothing as beautiful as roses mixed with orchids. In fact, my family knows that the holidays mean we invest in those special flowers that quietly but metaphorically convey that holidays are special and worth the added dollop of creamy roses, sumptuous orchids or lily stalks declaring time to have fun and make those life-affirming memories.
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD and floral editor for aspire design and home magazine and contributor to Florists Review magazine.