Art in Bloom
After a short stint as a stockbroker on Wall Street in the 1980s, Michael Gaffney stumbled into a floral shop and never looked back. He spent more than 20 years as a florist before opening the Minneapolis School of Flower Design last year, which offers classes for professionals and hobbyists alike. Gaffney believes that with a little instruction, anyone can arrange flowers. Here, he shares some thoughts on what it takes to blossom.
- Floral arranging isn’t about being creative. It’s about some basic elements of design that anyone can learn.
- About 90 percent of my students have never arranged flowers. But after 22 minutes, they blow out of the classroom like the next Martha Stewart.
- The biggest mistake people make is that they aim for the bottom of the vase. Insert the stems at an angle, not straight down, to create a dome.
- Forget the cylinder vases you see everywhere. The most fool-proof vessel is a classic urn shape because it’s wide at the bottom and narrow at the top so it forces you to create angles.
- Greens add texture and hold everything together. Put them in the vase first, and then add the flowers until you have a 180-degree dome of color.
- Beware: Store and florist-bought bouquets never include enough greens. You’ll need more to hold
- the arrangement together once you get it home.
- Arrangements should always have a focal point, so people are drawn in. Roses work well.
- Get to know a supplier—whether it’s a florist, wholesaler, or farmer. That will ensure that you get the freshest product at the best price. Most flowers and greens are available year-round.
- Cuttings from any of those ugly shrubs in your backyard will look beautiful and last a long time when you arrange them. Arborvitae trees and curly willow are both common in Minnesota.
- The perfect way to arrange a dozen roses is in rings: six on the outside, five on the inside, and one in the center.
- People often make the mistake of mixing multiple design styles instead of narrowing it down to one—like Asian or contemporary. Before creating an arrangement, pick a style, and stick to it.
- For inspiration, copy what’s in magazines. Designers beg, borrow, and steal—you can too. And don’t be afraid to experiment!