JoAnne Skelly: Create holiday floral arrangements |

JoAnne Skelly: Create holiday floral arrangements

JoAnne Skelly

Let your inner floral designer out and do some holiday bouquets. First, choose a container. Then decide what will hold the flowers in place. When I use a vase, I just put the flowers and greens in loosely. You can place clear marbles or pebbles in the bottom to hold the flowers. Sometimes florists use a crisscross pattern of floral tape over the mouth of the vase to give stability to the arrangement. However, to make a French bouquet, a centerpiece or a one-sided arrangement, use floral foam in a low container.

Soak the foam in water until it is wet through and soggy. Cut the foam to fit the container tightly and then tape it securely in place using two pieces of floral tape in a cross pattern. Cover the foam with greenery to hide it. Fern works well, but if you have incense cedar, arborvitae or other evergreens in your yard, use those to give a holiday feel. Buy flowers at your favorite florist. Add pinecones, holly, pyracantha or mountain ash berries for color.

Here are tips from my college design teacher Mr. Gordon:

The focal point, where the eye looks first, sits on the lip of the container.

Dark colors, round flowers like carnations, or specialty flowers are good choices to draw the eye.

“Line, mass, form and filler” was the mantra Mr. G. recited for the placement order of the flowers in the container. Line flowers go in first to create the framework of the design. These include gladiolas, twigs, larkspur, lupine, pussy willows, snapdragons, etc. — things that grow in a line.

Follow the lines with mass flowers such as carnations, mums, daisies, sunflowers, clumps of holly berries — materials that grow in a round mass. Add beauty with the form flowers — the unusual shapes like orchid, lily, tulips, roses or poinsettias.

Use form flowers at the focal point.

Fill in the gaps with the filler — baby’s breath, button mums, heather, wax plant, fern or other greenery.

“Face and space as you place.” Aim stems at the focal point with the flowers being furthest apart at the outside of the arrangement and closest at the focal point.

Keep centerpieces low to be able to talk to others at the table. Place candles right into the foam of the centerpiece, but don’t let the candles burn down so you avoid a fire hazard.

Cut flowers and greens always make a home more festive.

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at