A rustic arrangement of dahlia, hydrangea, rosehip and olive

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A rustic gathering of dahlia, hydrangea, rosehip and olive

This is another design in the farmhouse rustic informal floral arranging series. I love this type of designing which once finished should look like you went off and gathered a few blooms, a few lengths of foliage and just whatever nature visually shared. There are no hard and fast rules and pretty much anything goes.

The secret lies in the container and the forms and textures used. I say, the more the better but you don’t need heaps of each stem. I find that 3 or 4 is usually sufficient. The container I’m using today started life a plain brick terracotta colour. When I placed the flowers, I wanted to use, it just didn’t look right. So, to rustic it up, I gave it a very diluted watery wash of white wash. The secret to that aged washed out look is to first spray the exterior of the container with water, and then with a very wet brush, starting at the top just slap on the paint and let it run down the sides. Allow to dry and continue until you achieve the look you are after. If you get too much paint in one area, simply sand back.

I haven’t really talked much about colour for a long time and thought I would share my process. Sometimes I start with the flowers and decide on the container, or I might have an event or theme in mind. Currently that wonderful farmhouse/barn look is all the rage. Lovely gathered groupings of a few of this and a few of that all placed to look as if picked.

Today’s example started when my eyes fell upon the dark maroon dahlias. Being quite a strong colour and the actual sheer size meant I needed to visually break this up. Thus, the reason I used the blackish dark coloured rosehip. Same colour-way, just slightly darker, smaller and with the sheen, deflects the heaviness.

The next flower selected was the lavender mauve dahlias. Part of the same colour family, but a few tints lighter. To connect the colour, I used the dry muted hydrangea. It’s an equally big form, but when placed at the access or close to the top opening of the container, visually calms and brings down the heaviness of the dominating maroon red dahlia and on closer inspection you can see shades and tones of the dahlia only lighter. To this I added the green of the olive. These have lovely round olives some are green but some have black further breaking up the maroon. This diffusion acts as a visual illusion to help harmonize and balance heavy forms. Next, I added in a few creamy blushy dahlias in my quest to lighten and harmonise and connect back to the container colourings. The last addition was the round orangey rosehips, my way of further connecting back to the terracotta container. When completed it still didn’t look right and the reasons for applying the wash to further decrease the brick terracotta. Once finished I was going to remove the orange rosehips but decided they gave just enough punch and contract to be interesting. You will see that I also added in a few sprigs of wax flower or as we call it here in New Zealand, Manuka flower. I felt that this little flower was necessary to help visually defuse further the bigness or size of the dahlias. The pinky colorway also connects the maroon in with the lavender mauve. Of all the arts, I think floral designing is by far the easiest. Nature has already done all the work in providing us with all the flowers in different sizes colours and textures along with shades, tones and tints. It’s just a matter of always remembering if the form is large then it needs to be defused with something smaller or in-between in size and color.

Things to gather:

- Earthenware container – mine is 13” high with a base measurement of 8” and width opening of 7”

- 1 large dry look end of season aged vintage hydrangea.

- 3 lavender mauve dahlias

- 3 deep full bodied maroon dahlias

- 3 blushy creamy spray dahlias

- 2 pieces of olive branch

-2 blackish rosehips

- 1 gum nut

- Optional: 1 x piece of eucalyptus & 2 pieces of pink wild flower or Manuka

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