Creating a Pampas Grass Floral Arrangement

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An SOS for help has come into from Melanie who resides in Chicago. She recently purchased dried or artificial Pampas plumes and was stuck not knowing what kind of a container to use and what other forms she could use to compliment the plumes. I’m here to help and anyone else who finds themselves in the same predicament!

Ok, so here are a few basic pointers or visual rules to store away. When it comes to designing with dried forms it’s best to remember that they are dried or dead and have not means of emitting light like fresh flowers.

As a general rule, fresh flowers look great in glass because the flowers are living and give off a ‘life-force’ or reflective light. The glass emits light and enhances the light or life force of and from the flowers – as does fresh foliage, which coincidentally gives visual harmony or helps to set a stage in which the flowers can reign supremely.

The best containers for dried materials are cane, wicker, terracotta, wood, earthenware, dull finished and painted cans, tin or any vessel that is dull in tonal value. Like for like.

Note: For Melanies design I’m going to use a white-washed tin can and the reason being the Pampas - or Toitoi as we call them here in NZ - has white feathery plumes in amongst the blush pink. White is one of those colours that needs defusing thanks to it being an achromatic colour. When the design is finished, you’ll see the heaviness of the white tin can which will be diffused as the eye hits the white plumes of the Pampas grass. This is actually how colours and forms transition through a design and it starts with the container to achieve movement and flow necessary as a design takes shape.

Fresh flowers as indicated look great in glass, crystal, silver, or any vessel that has a lustre or shine or sheen. Like for like!

When it comes to choosing what other forms to put with dried materials it is best to stick with the same dried-off forms/materials. However, the rules can be broken if you where to incorporate with the Pampas - foliage that is dull in tonal value like magnolia. One side of the leaves is bright and shiny but the underneath is rustic and dull in tone. Should this be your choice or desire, then you could incorporate such blooms as dahlias or chrysanthemums. (Tip: I’d use blush pinks to connect in with the blush of the Pampas). Yes, they are light giving, but so is the dark of the lustrous greens of the magnolia which is off-set as by the dullness of the underneath colourings of the leaves. I like to call the likes of magnolia a defusing form/foliage. You might also like to add in other grass and eucalyptus which has a dull tone and works in beautifully with most if not all dried forms.

Another foliage or flower that would look great could be proteas. They might be fresh and living with a life-force, but they also have a dull appearance. Goodness, so many words! But looking closely at each form ask yourself… is it dull or is it shiny? If dull, stick with the dull tonal values and if shiny – stick with the living fresh!

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