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Sign up for the free newslet­ters we write based on our dai­ly expe­ri­ence as wed­ding and event flo­ral design­ers in trend-set­ting Los Angeles.

Based near the Beach in the South Bay of LA, Kit & Casey take you on a jour­ney each month to our events we cre­ate and share with you the hottest trends in flo­ral design.

As sought-after flo­ral design instruc­tors, you’ll learn the lat­est tips and tricks of the trade.

Founding Fathers’ Flowers for Independence Day

How to Recreate an American Colonial Flower Design

by Kit Wertz

To help Amer­i­ca cel­e­brate its 235th birth­day, why not make a flower arrange­ment that would be suit­able in our found­ing fathers’ and moth­ers’ homes? The Amer­i­can colonists would have used flow­ers and grass­es from their gar­dens and per­haps from the woods and fields around them.

About Colonial Flower Design

The design was a loose, but sym­met­ri­cal, mass of flow­ers with­out any “struc­ture.” The flower design would be a mix of flow­ers and grass­es or just one type of flower with one type of filler. Flo­ral design was not stud­ied yet — that would come much lat­er. Most colonists were busy just gar­den­ing to grow food to put on the table and would not have both­ered too much with dec­o­ra­tions. Think “home­made” flower design with­out too much thought to place­ment of col­or or texture.

Colonial Flowers

Amer­i­can colonists would have com­bined all col­ors of ros­es, car­na­tions, daisies, lilies, phlox, with native grass­es. They also might have used Queen Anne’s Lace, gera­ni­ums, lilacs, hol­ly­hocks, black-eyed Susans, peonies, marigolds, snap­drag­ons, strawflow­ers, stock and sunflowers.
Filler flow­ers would have includ­ed baby’s breath, Sol­ida­go and Limo­ni­um (sta­t­ice). Colonists would have also added grass­es, tree branch­es and shrubs to designs. Dried flow­ers, berries, seeds, dried gourds, cat­tails, grains, alder and sumac would have been pop­u­lar addi­tions to colo­nial flower designs.

Colonial Vases

They had a lot of Euro­pean influ­ence in their styles of vas­es, but many folks just mixed flow­ers and grass­es from their gar­dens into met­al jugs, pots, glass jars and all kinds of water pitchers.

Colonists would have brought a few porce­lain pieces from Europe for flower dis­plays. One type of porce­lain was Delft­ware vas­es and bowls. It’s a very del­i­cate hand- paint­ed blue-on-white porce­lain prod­uct from Delft, Hol­land. Exam­ple pic­tured at left.

Anoth­er pop­u­lar vase of the time was a fan shaped vase that had five slots to place in sin­gle stems of flow­ers. These were called Quin­tal horns and made it easy for the arranger to have a nice one-sided design. Check out this mod­ern repro­duc­tion Quin­tal Horn Vase for sale in the UK.

So, grab a pret­ty ceram­ic water pitch­er or your basic glass jar from the last time you made spaghet­ti. Go out to your gar­den in the ear­ly morn­ing and cut some flow­ers, shrub branch­es and grass­es and make a tra­di­tion­al colo­nial design to cel­e­brate Amer­i­ca being 235 years old!

Fireworks Flowers

by Kit Wertz

Now to mod­ern times and mod­ern flow­ers. If you want to have a flo­ral design the mim­ics the look of fire­works, what flow­ers do you use? Here are a few you can use to make a fun “fire­work” flower dis­play for your July 4th cookout.

Alli­um (Onion Flower — pic­tured above) — This pur­ple flower is a great globe shaped flower.

Aga­pan­thus — Comes in white or blue — per­fect for July 4th and is bloom­ing right now in gar­dens all over!

Spi­der Mum — Long petals make this white or green mum a good choice to mim­ic bursts of fireworks.

Spray Car­na­tion- Get some red or white into your design with this fire­crack­er look­ing flower. All the blooms on dif­fer­ent ends mim­ic the bursts of fire­works you see in clus­ters near the finale of every display.

Pin­cush­ion Pro­tea — Comes in orange or yel­low. This is just a fun flower all around!

Lan­tana — This round burst of minia­ture flow­ers looks like a burst of col­or in the air.

Queen Anne’s Lace — This white lacey flower mim­ics a large burst of a round fire­work in the night sky.

Focus on Greenery — Italian Ruscus

by Flower Duet Editors

We spend so much time talk­ing about dif­fer­ent flow­ers in flo­ral design, that we for­get the pletho­ra of green­ery and filler flow­ers that make up the some­times very strong sup­port­ing cast in our designs. This is the first in a series of arti­cles we’ll do that focus­es on the ever impor­tant greenery.

Flower Design Trends

Flower Duet knows that the cur­rent trend in flo­ral design today to show mass­es of flow­ers with very lit­tle, if any, green­ery. This means that you have to spend more mon­ey on flow­ers to make a large design. If you use a lit­tle green­ery strate­gi­cal­ly, you can still have a very mod­ern design, but also save a few bucks. So, this arti­cle fea­ture will show you some of our favorite types of greenery
and how to work with each one.

Green­ery Type: Ital­ian Ruscus

Expense Fac­tor: $8–12 per bunch wholesale

Vase Life: 6–20 days — Har­vest­ed Rus­cus stored at 40 degrees has been known to last up to five months!

Ital­ian Rus­cus is a small leafed, dark green green­ery that we favor for wed­ding designs. Like most green­ery grown for the flo­ral trade, each long stem has many small stems of leaves.

As a whole stem, Rus­cus works well in long cen­ter­piece designs (think oval shapes). It also looks great in tall vase designs and on flo­ral sprays.
Rus­cus is a great accent for bou­ton­nieres and cor­sages. This is our go-to green­ery for these types of small detail work. The foliage is a glossy green that does­n’t clash with any type of flower. It lasts a long time out of water, too. To make this stretch, sep­a­rate the lit­tle stems from the long stem as pictured.

Any left­over leaves can be stripped from the stems and made into lit­tle beds for a place­card table or to go around a wed­ding cake. They also make nice nests for pre­sent­ing the grooms bou­ton­niere if you want to give that spe­cial touch.

NOTE: There is anoth­er type of rus­cus called Israeli Rus­cus. It has much larg­er leaves, but shares many oth­er sim­i­lar bonus fea­tures as the Ital­ian Ruscus.

July Flower Events

flower Magazine summer issue on newsstands now.

Sub­scribe for $14.99 per year and save $2.00 with code 3SUMM11

Summer Tropical Flower Show at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, IL — May 28 — September 25, 2011

Chicago’s Sum­mer Trop­i­cal Flower Show

2011 AIFD National Symposium in San Francisco, California — July 3–9, 2011

Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Flo­ral Design­ers 2011 Sym­po­sium in San Francisco

Mountains in Bloom in Highlands, North Carolina — July 7–10, 2011

Pri­vate Moun­tain Gar­den Tours in North Carolina

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Flowers After Five in Richmond, Virginia — Thursdays in June, July, August 2011

Flow­ers with Live Music and Wine Tast­ings in Rich­mond, VA

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show — Surrey, UK — July 5–10, 2011

Hamp­ton Court Palace Flower Show in Great Britain

How to plant Citrus and Tropical plants — Armstrong Garden Centers in California — Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cit­rus and Trop­i­cal Plant Class

Contemporary Floral Design with Summer Flowers Classes — UC San Diego Extension — July 16 — August 20, 2011

Flo­ral Design with Sum­mer Flow­ers in San Diego

West Seattle Garden Tour in Seattle, Washington — July 17, 2011

Pri­vate Gar­den Tours in Seattle

The Sun Valley Group — Wholesale Flower Grower 24th Annual Open House — Arcata, California — July 24, 2011

Sun Val­ley Grow­ers Open House in Arcata

Sonoma County Fair Flower show — Sonoma, California — July 26, 2011

Somo­ma Coun­ty Flower Show

The 130th Sandringham Flower Show — Norfolk, UK — July 27, 2011

San­dring­ham Flower Show in Great Britain

Flower Duet Flower Arranging Workshop — Working with cylinder vases: Tall and Short — July 31, 2011

Flower Duet July Flower Arrang­ing Class in the South Bay — Tor­rance, California

Book Reviews

Found­ing Gar­den­ers. The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Gen­er­a­tion, Nature and the Shap­ing of the Amer­i­can Nation by Andrea Wulf

New this year, Found­ing Gar­den­ers cov­ers the gar­den phi­los­o­phy of George Wash­ing­ton, Thomas Jef­fer­son, James Madi­son and John Adams. Learn about why Wash­ing­ton want­ed only Vir­ginia native plants at Mount Ver­non and how Jef­fer­son want­ed to grow his own grapes to make the first Vir­gina wine. Find out why James Madi­son, the author of the Bill of Rights, is Amer­i­ca’s for­got­ten enivron­men­tal­ist. You’ll learn all about the flo­ra that was grown by our colo­nial ances­tors and how they felt about this “new” land.

Flow­ers and Herbs of Ear­ly Amer­i­ca by Lawrence Grif­fith , Bar­bara Tem­ple Lom­bar­di (Pho­tog­ra­ph­er)

Pub­lished by the Colo­nial Williams­burg Foun­da­tion, Flow­ers and Herbs of Ear­ly Amer­i­ca doc­u­ments in beau­ti­ful detail with pho­tographs, peri­od hand-col­ored engrav­ing, water­col­or, or wood­cuts the great vari­ety of flow­ers and herbs grown in Amer­i­ca’s colo­nial and ear­ly Fed­er­al gar­dens. Grif­fith, an his­toric plant expert, brings our botan­i­cal her­itage to the page for a mod­ern read­er to enjoy. You can learn what was grown so you can recre­ate it in your own garden.

Floral Tool — Digital Camera

Once you’ve cre­at­ed your mas­ter­piece flower design, it’s time to doc­u­ment your work with a few pho­tos. This mon­th’s flo­ral tool is a dig­i­tal cam­era. Here are some tips to get the best pho­to you can of your flo­ral arrangements.

How to take Great Pho­tos of Your Flower Designs

TIP 1: Get a dig­i­tal SLR (sin­gle lens reflex) cam­era with a zoom lens. Try to get a cam­era that has a “flower” set­ting and a “no flash” set­ting as well as man­u­al set­tings where you can set your own aper­ture and shut­ter speed. I use a Nikon D90, because I want­ed the HD video capa­bil­i­ty, but you can go with some­thing a lit­tle less expen­sive. Check out the reviews on to com­pare dif­fer­ent cam­eras. If you just use a point and shoot dig­i­tal cam­era, you won’t be able to always con­trol the mood and depth of field.

TIP 2: Try to shoot in nat­ur­al light with­out a flash. When you use a flash, it often dis­torts the col­or of flow­ers, espe­cial­ly if they are orange, dark pink or red.

TIP 3: Pick a neu­tral back­ground that is not busy. I like to use a smooth stuc­co wall in my back­yard for many of my shots. A blank white, cream, light gray or light green wall in a bright­ly day lit room works well, too.

TIP 4: Try to shoot from dif­fer­ent angles. Some designs look good from high above, some from straight one and some from down below.

TIP 5: Review and Zoom: Review each shot on the back of the cam­era after you shoot. Zoom in to make sure the pho­to is in sharp focus close up.

TIP 6: Review and Recom­pose: Review each shot on the back of the cam­era to make sure your arrange­ment actu­al­ly looks good in the pho­to. It can be quite shock­ing to look at your arrange­ment on the cam­era and then all of the sud­den, you see a big hole in your design!!!

TIP 7: Shoot some close-ups of just a few fea­tured flow­ers. Close up shots of parts of your design are fun to have. Use the “flower” set­ting on the cam­era, but turn off the flash if you can. This cre­ates a short depth of field, mean­ing that just some of the flow­ers will be in sharp focus and the rest of the design will be a lit­tle out of focus. This makes for a nice and roman­tic look­ing shot.

TIP 8: Shoot a lot of pho­tos, you can delete them later.

TIP 9: Always do a lit­tle pho­to­shop to the images you want to add to your final port­fo­lio or to the images you are going to print. You might need to increase the expo­sure on some or use the repair tool to mask a bruised petal. I like to use iPho­to for my retouch­ing, but Pho­to­shop Ele­ments is a good choice if you have a PC. It’s impor­tant with dig­i­tal images to fix the col­or some­times. It can look “cold” so it’s good to warm up the pho­to with a more nat­ur­al hue. Take the time to learn a lit­tle about pho­to retouch­ing by either check­ing out a book from the library or doing some tuto­ri­als online.

TIP 10: Keep shoot­ing! The more you shoot, the bet­ter you’ll get at flo­ral design and photography!

Check out more great tips on how to take pho­tos of flowers.

As Ama­zon Asso­ciates, we earn from qual­i­fy­ing pur­chas­es. Some­times we link to a prod­uct on Ama­zon in our arti­cles on

Read more Flower Duet News & Newsletters from past years:

2023 Newslet­ter Articles

2022 Newslet­ter Articles

2021 Newslet­ter Articles

2020 Newslet­ter Articles

2019 Newslet­ter Archives

2018 Newslet­ter Archives

2017 Newslet­ter Archives

2016 Newslet­ter Archives

2015 Newslet­ter Archives

2014 Newslet­ter Archives

2013 Newslet­ter Archives

2012 Newslet­ter Archives

2011 Newslet­ter Archives

2010 Newslet­ter Archives

Each month, we cov­er a cur­rent event in the flo­ral trade, flo­rals from real wed­dings, our lat­est flower adven­tures and endeav­ors, design tips, cur­rent flo­ral trends, flo­ral design class­es and work­shops, book rec­om­men­da­tions and flo­ral tool tips.

Since 2010, we’ve cre­at­ed a hot list of what’s on for flo­ral design in and beyond South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. As guest speak­ers inside and out­side of Cal­i­for­nia, we know what clients need in the wed­ding and event indus­try. We are your trust­ed resource for flo­ral design tips and tech­niques for all lev­els of the flower enthusiast.

We are Kit Wertz and Casey Schwartz, the sis­ter design team of Flower Duet. We are com­mit­ted to edu­cat­ing our stu­dents and fans since we start­ed our flo­ral design busi­ness in 1999.

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