A Summer Centerpiece

THIS WEEK, I asked floral designer Erin Brady to create a large arrangement for my entrance hall table.ย  Would you like to see the purples, pinks, blues and greens she chose? Here they are, in my latest you-can-do-it flower-arranging tutorial:

First, select a vase! Almost any container can hold a lavish display of flowers. But if the vessel isn’t water tight — the cast-iron urn that resides on my entrance hall table is open at the bottom — you’ll need to give it a liner of some sort. I lined my urn with a plastic painter’s pail.

Now saturate a few blocks of floral foam. Floral foam, sold under the brand name “Oasis,” holds many times its weight in water. Cut the blocks to snugly fit your liner. Erin used green floral tape to secure the foam to the liner. She also taped the liner to the urn.

Why all this taping business? Because a big arrangement requires a secure foundation.

Erin camouflaged the ugly “hardware” with stems of common ferns.

If you have ferns in your garden, by all means use them for your own flower-arranging adventures. You’ll find the fronds are both graceful and long-lasting.

Next, Erin inserted branches of lemonleaf ( Gaultheria shallon) into the floral foam. She arranged these in both upright and angled positions.

If you can’t find lemonleaf, use common hosta leaves from your garden. The goal is to mask the floral foam, and add bulk to the arrangement.

Once the greens were in place, Erin added several stems of wild purple larkspur. She arranged these stems in the shape of a fan.

Are you familiar with wild larkspur? It behaves like a weed in the landscape. But it looks winsome in a flower arrangement. It’s an easy plant to winter-sow.

Next, “Pennycress” was added as filler. This Thlaspi arvense is beloved by florists, and for good reason. Its flat, heart-shaped pods can lend a touch of elegance to almost any arrangement.

And now for the stars of our show! Erin arranged two fan-shaped rows of delphinium, dark blue in the background, and sky-blue in the fore.

And betwixt and between the delphiniums, she inserted pink chystanthemum, white gypsophilla elegans, pink alstromeria, and red dianthus.

Although this centerpiece is multi-hued, the colors are mainly pastel. Consequently they seem to compliment, rather than clash, with the green and cream wallpaper andย  the sage and gold window hangings in the hall.

Want an intimate look at the subjects of this arrangement? Here we go-go:

Dark blue delphinium…

Light blue delphinium…

Wild purple larkspur…

Pale pink chysanthemums…

Rosy dianthus…

Pink alstromeria…

And white gypsophila elegans, which is commonly referred to as “baby’s breath.”

Are my flower-arranging tutorials of any value to you? You can let me know by leaving a comment. If I hear lots of “Ayes,” I’ll continue to post them. Otherwise, I’ll simply show you the finished products, without the “blah-blah-blah” details that probably drive some of you to drink.

Flowers and greens like to drink, too. So be sure to keep water in your vase, urn, or what have you. A few drops of household bleach will keep the water sweet.

Don’t miss anything at A Garden for the House…sign up for Kevin’s weekly email updates.

Related Posts:
The Powers of Flowers Indoors
The Best (and the Easiest!) Lemon Tart in the World
My Entrance Hall, Before and After Papering


  1. Absolutely gorgeous…loved the tutorial!

  2. aye ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I should have added…I’d dearly love to see arrangements that you have built using your own flowers and greens, at least in part.

  4. Barbara says:

    Aye aye!

  5. sarah – See this tutorial: Victorian Beauty from Common Flowers.

  6. Aye! Lovely

  7. Joyce Bradley says:

    Yes!! Very delightful and so enjoyable to see. Please continue to share with us!!

  8. Yes please continue to show the tutorials!

  9. Kate Rowe says:

    A lovely arrangement. It encourages me to use my own garden flowers in the house rather than buying an impersonal bouquet. Thanks.

  10. Edward Zabel says:

    I do enjoy them.

  11. Deanna Jolly says:

    Beautiful. I love it.

  12. Erin Brady says:

    So glad you all liked it!

  13. Beautiful arrangement! I loved seeing the steps to making it. Sometimes I try making silk arrangements and knowing those, as you said, “blah, blah, blah details” really helps!
    Please keep sharing.

  14. How spectacular! You also helped me solve a quandary I’d posted on our area freecycle board last week. I’ve seen a flower/rock bed with a plethora of purplish flowers on a nearby city’s main street and couldn’t tell what they were. So I posted asking if anyone could tell me if they were purple larkspur. (Nobody was able to tell me. But I now see that they are.) Along with the delphinium, there were lupine, too. I love a purple garden!

  15. Barbara Harding says:

    The centerpiece is absolutely beautiful, it looks amazing. The tutorial was fantastic. The flowers are beautiful and Erin Brady is one remarkable floral designer and person.

  16. Wonderful tutorial! Just about to list our house for sale, and this do it yourself sure beats the price of paying for an enormous arrangement. Well done. I plan to copy as often as the flowers need to be replaced. Yippee.

  17. Yes

  18. Apryl Kingsley says:

    Loved the tutorial. Very clear. I did not know about adding bleach to the water. Thank you. Keep doing them.

  19. Gorgeous! The tutorial is very helpful. I appreciate everything that you teach us.

  20. Kathleen Buller says:

    Very grand, my learning cap is on! Thanks for the tutorial.

  21. Love it! Please continue to post the tuts!

  22. Kevin, Thanks so much for this information. I’m going to act like I am on “Chopped”–the Food Network and RE-PURPOSE the techniques for my flower beds. The are 20 feet long, kidney shaped and 30 feet long straight connected with a 9 foot arbor.

    The arbor was a cracked and broken trellis I picked up at a garage sale. We have an Amish man that does this work, so I sort of gave him a blank check and told him to do it. Now I opted for the solar lights on top, 4 at $50.00 and I got exactly what I wanted. Except I got a lot of weeds in the duck mulch.

    This year I put lilies on the top as it is rounded on the top and they are too spindly and way too tall. So I will do what Erin did get the colors to play correctly. The colors enhanced the eye movement and made your arrangement spectacular.

    Yes, Keep all this info coming.


  23. Great tutorial. You make things look so easy that I always want to try them. Just looked at my lavender and daisy arrangement and realized I must have left out the bleach this time. Shame on me! Always use bleach to keep the water fresh. By the way, your chive pesto was a huge hit with my friends at our last quilt retreat. Love your blog and newsletter. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. AYE!!!

  25. Lori Mancini says:

    While sadly I have to settle for purchased flowers your tips are still a big help. I never knew about adding some bleach to the water and will have to try that next time I get flowers. One question about the oasis, can it be reused? If so is it all right if it dries out in between? OK that was two questions but they go together LOL

  26. Thanks, Kevin! Please keep them coming! I love the diversity of ideas and the creativity you bring to us every week!

  27. Elaine Michaels says:

    Yes, please keep doing the tutorials – we learn so much!

  28. Beautiful. I love the mix of colors. Please continue tutorials.

  29. Aye! I do large arrangements for my church and the tutorial was very helpful. Please keep them coming.

  30. Yes, please continue the tutorials. All of them: floral arranging, cooking, anything garden related, home dec… I love to see them all. It’s a bright spot in my day, every time I read something you’ve posted. I too have used Hosta leaves in floral arrangements. ‘ Wood Poppy’ (Stylophorum diphyllum) works great too. It has very interesting leaves – rounded lobes of blue green and they turn yellow in the Fall. They bloom right after the daffodils are done and have yellow flowers. They self seed, but I let them and just pull them out where I don’t want them the next Spring. I would think they would be a great addition to your Woodland Gardens.

  31. pat futch says:

    Yes, please! I find them very inspiring.

  32. Claudia S says:

    Beautiful arrangement! I love your tutorials, so helpful, please keep posting!

  33. Ruth denney says:

    very nice. Keep them coming.

  34. Yes….I love the tutorials ! And your sense of humor! I always look forward to your posts.

  35. Please do continue the tutorials…….

  36. Scarlett says:

    I loved hearing about how to arrange the flowers. Please do more. This one was beautiful.

  37. This is wonderful. I want to send it to all my friends. Do more. How about some ikebana?

  38. Scarlett says:

    I arrange flowers all the time from my garden, but love the instructions you are including.

  39. love the tutorials. please keep them coming.

  40. Appreciate the tutorial and will be using many of the tips when we arrange flowers for my daughter’s wedding.

  41. Yes, please do keep posting these instructional tutorials!

  42. Yes, Kevin, love the “blah blah blah”s!

  43. frederique jennette says:

    What a magnificent arrangement! I love the color combinations and different
    textures of the leaves and flowers.

  44. Aye! Love your emails!

  45. Gretchen says:

    By all means keep the tutorials coming along with the blah, blah, blah’s – they’re just too much fun to read to drop them off. Love your weekly visits.

  46. Aye

  47. Aye!

  48. Please keep your tutorials coming. While I don’t have a big foyer to fill, I can scale it back for a corner of my entry. Thanks for taking the time to share!

  49. Shirley Welch says:

    Love this, keep sharing –

  50. Yes, keep em coming! Love it Kevin!

  51. How inspiring! AYE for the lessons!!

  52. Loved the tutorial. Keep ’em coming!

  53. Maricela Infante says:

    Loved it! Thank you!

  54. Aye! Aye! Aye! Aye!

  55. Mary Anne says:

    definitely aye!

  56. Incredible arrangement. Love the tutorial. Your blog is awesome!

  57. loved it!!

  58. Loved the tutorial and also the gorgeous arrangement! \thank you.

  59. Please Please , do continue. Flower arranging has always left me confused and frankly scared to death! Most of the time when I try its heavy overpowering and ugly. I’ve learned a lot from your post. Biggest is you don’t have to have a wheelbarrow fill of flowers to do it..
    Thank you Kevin. Since I have found your blog, I have given myself the tools to make and create wonderful, tasty and heavenly things……Please Please Please do continue

  60. Martina Flynn says:

    Please do continue the tutorials. All your posts inspire me…they are lovely!

  61. Marilyn Foster says:

    I love the tutorials! My flower arrangements are so much prettier than they used to be!

  62. Carolyn says:

    Just stunning! This is definitely one of my “feel good” sites..

  63. Theresa says:

    I love your weekly emails. I absolutely loved the curtains with this arrangement. Perfection. And your so humble about it. Thanks.

  64. Love the tutorial and the close ups of the players.

  65. suzanne says:

    Yes please to any and all tutorials!!!

  66. Kristin says:

    Yes, please continue!!

  67. Kamaljit says:

    Very pretty. Keep posting tutorials:-)

  68. Yes Yes & Yes!! My grandmother was a master flower arranger & even created her own Garden Club… and although I learned lots of things at her knee.. flower arranging is not one of them… I NEED tutorials.. often!! So thanks… And OMG is that one beautiful arrangement!

  69. ToniBeth says:

    Loved the step by step floral directions And the results just Stunning!
    Please keep them coming! Happy 4th of July Kevin!

  70. Eileen Lilley says:

    Aye! You make it look so easy. I never thought of using hostas in an arrangement. Cant wait to try it. One question: how do you get Honeysuckle to bloom? I’ve had 2 plants for two years climbing up both sides of a trellis but no signs of buds.

  71. Gorgeous, brings back so many memories of my years as a floral designer. So glad to see a designer using the old school methods of floral foam instead of cramming everything in a glass vase. I often miss my time in the business, when surrounded by fresh flowers, only limited by my imagination. I still do the occasional wedding for close friends/family, but they aren’t really fun…too hectic. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Love your site!

  72. Helene Tomlinson says:

    The arrangement is stunning! The tutorial is excellent and with the seperate photos of each step i will easily be able to recreate this arrangement. I have a beautiful basket that is large, low, with a very wide open mouth. It has a handle reminiscent of an easter basket. I plan on using artificial flowers and foliage. To fit the basket i will widen and shorten the spray. The basket has been sitting in place empty for almost a year waiting for the perfect arrangement. This is it. Thank you so much for your photos and instruction. I will enjoy recreating this arrangement with great pleasure. Keep doing what you do!

  73. Chrissie says:

    Please keep the flower arranging coming. Actually keep everything coming! Love everything you send. Hope the book deal works. I’ll buy it.

  74. YES!!! Please do more of these tutorials! I’m new to your blog and love it. Specifically, your tutorials are great because you give step by step photos and descriptions so a beginner can recreate the design. I LOVE that you picture and name each flower/plant individually so I can learn what each is called and looks like, and find them at my florist, or grow them myself. THANK YOU!

  75. Melanie says:

    Aye! Loved the tutorial and would love to see more!

  76. Linda Soliz says:

    Aye. Please continue with the tutorials. Love the process and end product.

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