Month: May 2013

Elements and Principles of Floral Design

Elements and Principles of Floral Design

Myra presented a primer on the elements of floral design.
Myra presented a primer on the elements of floral design.

At a recent meeting of the Chester Garden Club, about two dozen members showed up to learn about the elements of design as applied to flower arranging in sanctioned competitions. Illustrating her talk with a large number of images of varied designs, Myra drew on her knowledge and experience as a flower show judge to outline the basic principles that are used by accredited judges to determine the prize-winners when studying entries in  provincial and national flower show competitions. The universal elements of design include space, line, form, colour, texture and pattern. It is the arrangement of these elements according to the general principles of design, which are the factors that are considered during the judging of arrangements.

Colour is a compelling element in this arrangement with a theme of “Fire”.

In brief, the principles of design involve balance (both in colour and in symmetry or asymmetry), rhythm within the arrangement, proportion of plant material to container, scale of individual components vis-à-vis the others, contrast of colour or shape, and dominance  of one element over the rest.

spiral motion
Structure, such as a visual path — in this case a spiral line — is a key element.
Design showing a contrast in colour and texture.
Design showing a contrast in colour and texture.
an arrangement of wildflowers, showing attention to form, colour, pattern and texture.
An arrangement of wildflowers, showing attention to form, colour, pattern and texture.

In a move to encourage young people to take an interest in Chester’s annual Flower Show,  Myra has run a short course for local children, where she teaches the basic principles and encourages lots of hands-on experimentation in arrangements. Her efforts have already brought dividends as several of her young pupils have won prizes in the children’s class of local flower show competitions in the last two years.

Myra's school
Myra and her young pupils display some of their own creations.

Members who attended the presentation as part of their own preparation for entering floral arrangements in this year’s Flower Show and Tea, enjoyed sampling the refreshments offered before the business meeting.  Danielle took advantage of the meeting to promote the fund-raising raffle that is being held in conjunction with this year’s show.

Danielle encourages all CGC members to support the raffle of an artisan's handiwork.
Danielle encourages all CGC members to support the raffle of an artisan’s handiwork.
Tulips are a welcome sign of spring on the refreshment table.
Tulips are a welcome sign of spring on the refreshment table.

The screen is a metal frame holding six hand-hooked samplers with scenes typical of Nova Scotia’s South Shore. A photo of the screen can be found on the page “Flower Show and Tea” (see menu at top of this page).

More Spring Blooms

More Spring Blooms

After delaying its entrance for so long, Spring has really sprung in recent days. The photos in this post were taken in a Chester garden earlier this week.

Creamy hellebores open in the warm sun.
A group of rose-coloured hellebores border a path.

The plants making up the kaleidoscope of colour below are recognizable to gardeners as primroses, daffodils, scillas, tulips and star magnolias.  Spring, at last, is bringing all things bright and beautiful, as the old hymn goes.



IMG_0888magnolia very closeup
Thanks to Herb and Sylvia for the photos.

Volunteers and Bulbs: rewards for long service

Volunteers and Bulbs: rewards for long service

Jane  and town crier
Jane is congratulated by Chester’s Town Crier, Gary Zwicker.

Presentation of Volunteer Awards is a Springtime tradition in Chester, during which nominees from various organizations are honoured for their exemplary service over many years. This year’s Chester Garden Club nominee was Jane Wilkins, a long-standing member who has also been active in a number of other community organizations. Jane’s garden is always a source of delight and, from its blooms, Jane creates many charming floral arrangements for community events.

After a particularly long winter, Chester gardeners feel their patience is being rewarded as warmer weather has spurred lawns and gardens to “green up” almost overnight. Bulbs long dormant are once again serving to brighten up the landscape.

puschkinia crop
This clump of Puschkinia has already attracted a small bee.

Bulbs provide a display of colour in many seasons but are perhaps most welcome in spring.

In Jane’s garden, as the crocuses fade, bright blue hyacinths take the stage.
Adding to the mix is a less familiar variety of yellow hyacinths.

Because most gardeners plant bulbs with the expectation that they will regenerate year by year, it is important that the soil be fertile. Fertilizers that are low in nitrogen, high in potash and phosphate will provide the right mix. That means adding bone meal or rose fertilizer when planting, or sprinkling it on the surface immediately afterwards.

A clump of pink hyacinths pale in contrast to the deep green of spring grass in Joan’s garden.
Jocelyn's hyacinths
A mix of pink and blue hyacinths line the back of a new border in Jocelyn’s garden.

Daffodils and other bulbs are also showing their colours around the area. Most bulbs should be planted when they are dormant, and the usual advice is to plant them at a depth equal to their own in heavy soil, and about twice as deep in sandy soil. Even the smallest bulbs should have at least 5 cm of soil above them.

Daffodils mingled with scillas.


These daffodils were photographed in Chester, where they reign supreme in a street-front bed that changes colour and texture during the year as the plants develop according to their season.

strip lenten rose and spring flowers
A Lenten rose nodding to its reticent neighbours.

Sylvia’s  garden is a treat for visitors at any time of year but Spring provides a glimpse of less-well known plants that add to the colour palette. Many spring-flowering bulbs do well when planted under deciduous trees because the bulbs do most of their growing before the tree has leafed out and also because the roots of trees (and shrubs) absorb moisture and thus help keep the soil from getting soggy, which is beneficial to the bulbs.