Oriental design is classified as Chinese or Japanese. Chinese art usually depicted flowers in baskets, vases with stands, or painted on bowls and plates. Floral designs copied these art designs and were used in temples and homes. Japanese Design is defined as designs that are asymmetrical, show restraint in the use of plant material and other components, and in most instances place emphasis on line and have specific proportions of the major lines.
For example, in traditional Japanese Line arrangements (Ikebana), the main line is the backbone of the arrangement and should be the strongest as well as the longest line. The second line is usually 2/3 the height of the main line and should be placed closely behind or in front of the main line and should follow its direction. The third line should be approximately 1/3 the main line. All stems should be place close together on the needle point holder and appear to radiate from one point. See page 25 of “Styles of Flower Arranging: A Primer.”
Line design can be achieved by other methods including: placing the stems in a vertical grouping; using flowers in successive stages, from bud at the top to full bloom at the bottom; and placing gradations of color and size in sequence from top to bottom, light to dark, or small to large. Remember that some plant materials are more suitable for line designs than others. Elongated materials are preferred since linear shapes move the eye along. Branches or spiked forms that curve, twist or turn naturally work well, as do flowers that grow on spike forms like gladioli.
European designs are from all periods of European history and are predominately mass. While present day containers and materials may be used, designs should reflect the period they represent. Examples of these periods are often classified as Greek, Italian, Dutch and Flemish, French, Georgian and Victorian. More specific definitions and illustrations of these styles can be found in the booklet, “Styles of Flower Arranging: A Primer,” pages 1-13.
American designs blend the Oriental and European styles. Designs include three basic types: line, line-mass, and mass designs.
- Line designs are those in which the linear pattern is dominant. They are characterized by restraint in the quantity of plant material used and an open silhouette. Line designs can be vertical, horizontal crescent, s-curve, zigzag, etc., but the designs follow set patterns. See page 18 of “Styles of Flower Arranging: A Primer.”
- Line-Mass designs are those in which additional material enhance and strengthens the line. The dominant line is combined with a mass of plant material at the focal area, and the silhouette is still open. Designs still follow set patterns. See page 19 of “Styles of Flower Arranging.”
- Mass designs are characterized by the use of a large quantity of plant material. The design has a closed silhouette. Different types and colors of plant materials are used to create interest, such as round flowers, spiked flowers, or different types of foliage material. A major goal of a mass arrangement is to place plant materials in a way that achieves both depth and movement. See page 17 of “Styles of Flower Arranging.”
Creative designs emerged in the middle of the 20th Century. Designers use plant material and other components to create a slightly different art form. Traditional designs are an art form in space, while Creative designs, particularly Abstracts, are an art form of space with solids and spaces becoming one. The designer uses the elements of design as they interact with space to create a design having great depth. Creative designs usually show restraint in the amount of plant materials and components used.
The design may have more than one focal area, more than one point of emergence, and may include some abstract qualities. These designs are not bound by rules, styles, or traditional patterns. See pages 20-24 of “Styles of Flower Arranging.”
Two types of Creative Design are parallel and underwater.
This design has three or more vertical groupings of materials. Open spaces between the groupings are important. Plant materials and other components are positioned in a strong vertical manner. Some materials may be horizontally placed at the base to achieve visual weight and balance. Groupings may be of only one type of plant material, different combinations of plant materials, or the same combination of plant materials repeated in each unit.
This is a design with part or parts of the arrangement placed underwater in a clear container to create interest. Water magnifies the materials, creating an element of interest and surprise. Plant materials having hard surface qualities, such as evergreens, tropical flowers and foliage, do not deteriorate under water as rapidly. Materials and mechanics should be checked for lasting qualities before using them. Underwater designs are not to be confused with the old-fashioned, clear glass ball holding a single bloom underwater.
In a Standard Flower Show, there is often a category for special exhibits.
One division in this category is called Artistic Crafts. These exhibits combine horticulture, design and crafts. Examples of design in this category are:
Pot-et-fleur is a semi-permanent arrangement of growing plants in one container, using two or more rooted plants and cut flowers. Plants may be of the same variety or of different varieties having compatible growth requirements. The same principle of design used in creating designs of cut material apply. Pot-et-fleur may be made of all foliage plants, all flowering plants, or a combination of both with cut flowers added. Fresh cut flowers create visual impact or interest and must be in water. NO cut foliage is permitted; however, cut branches with foliage and/or berries may be used.
The container for pot-et-fleur must hold water, be large enough to hold several plants, and deep enough for the roots to be below the rim of the container for watering. Plants may be incorporated into the pot-et-fleur in the pots in which they are growing, or removed and planted in a light porous medium.
Decorative wood or bare branches may be used for height and to give proper proportion. Variety in leaf form, color and texture creates interest. There should be some color link between the plants, flowers and container. Trailing plants flowing over the rim of the container can assist in unifying the container and plants. The cut flowers must be in water and may be inserted into water picks, orchid tubes, small bottles, etc.
These can be easily hidden. Accessories such as rocks and figurines may add distinction. Moss or pebbles may be used to cover the planting medium or pots but must enhance the design.
Still Life is a grouping of plant materials and other components by which a story is told or a theme interpreted, more by the objects used than by the choice of plant materials. Objects used must dominate and be true to normal size and function. Figurines are not life-sized, and therefore are not used.
Some objects are used for size, shape and aesthetic contribution and help to tell the story or interpret the theme. A completed flower arrangement is never found in a true Still Life in flower show work. A design with one or more accessories is not a Still Life. Flowers, foliage and/or fruits, vegetables, etc., may be placed in related groupings and are not restricted to a container.
A Still Life is usually staged on a portion of a table and is realistic in feeling, while an Assemblage is abstract.
Note: Much of the information in these guidelines is taken from “The Handbook of Flower Shows” published by the National Council of State Garden Clubs, Inc.