“Mixing different media of botanical materials –
fresh and permanent, tropicals and temperates,
cut flowers with plants, etc. – is providing exciting
new avenues of creativity for floral designers and exciting new products for consumers.”
When we think of classic combinations, peanut butter and jelly, ketchup and mustard, and Lucy and Desi might come to mind. For creative floral minds, who have always been experts in mixing media, unconventional blending of common elements has been the foundation for genius and the creation of aesthetically pleasing designs.
Today, florists are combining distinctive and different botanicals, creating new platforms within the industry. The search for giving birth to something new with seeming incompatible materials and combining them in different ways has opened the floral industry to new possibilities of engaging the international community as well as consumers. Old taboos are being broken in favor of new approaches. Mixing temperate flowers with tropicals has created the new floral art form “Tropical Nouveau.” Dried and fresh flowers are intermingled to highlight the unique characteristics of each form. Locally grown botanicals are now being mixed with flowers imported from international markets allowing floral designers to design stunning compositions. Permanent botanicals are combined with fresh flowers to create a desired effect. Plants, which are now a lifestyle, are being mixed with fresh cut flowers to merge the two different natural materials. These new combinations are stretching the boundaries, creating new floral art and endless possibilities.
DRIED AND FRESH FLORAL COMBINATIONS
If you have any recollection of the 1970s and ’80s, you remember the prominence of dried flower arrangements in homes and offices. Adhering to the adage “What was old is new again,” dried flowers are making a comeback but, this time, with a new twist. Floral designers are now combining dried and fresh botanicals to achieve antique color combinations, interesting textures and the added value of permanency. They’re also consciously creating arrangements with botanicals, such as Protea and grasses, that will dry well. These floral expressions can morph from extraordinary fresh works of art into permanent keepsakes for the recipients.
LOCALLY GROWN MIXED WITH IMPORTED FLOWERS
In recent years, the floral industry has increasingly been embracing the Slow Flowers Movement, focusing on designing with “locally” grown and cultivated botanicals. Florists are now consciously incorporating flowers available from local markets and foraged materials from gardens, potted plants and wooded areas. We commonly see Dahlia, for example, as one of the most locally grown flowers nationwide. Supply and demand of these botanicals is determined by their seasonality and limited growing season, depending on region; therefore, florists who are committed to this movement have conceded, for practical reasons, to mix locally grown flowers with blooms imported from international floral markets. This combination allows floral designers the flexibility to create what their clients are requesting while still being mindful of local sustainability.
PLANTS AND FRESH CUT FLOWERS
With the popularity of interior plantscaping and urban gardens, plants are becoming a lifestyle in both millennials’ homes and the modern corporate world. This growing market has created new artistic and commercial opportunities for floral designers. With an increase in plant appreciation, both traditional retail florists and event florists are often challenged to incorporate potted indoor and outdoor plants and foliages into their compositions. By combining cut flowers in innovative ways with plants or plant materials, a new form of botanical art is emerging, offering new creative possibilities for plant-lovers. We are just beginning to see where this combination will lead the ever-evolving floral industry.
SILK AND FRESH COMBINATIONS
One of the best-kept secrets and common practices in the floral industry has been mixing permanent botanicals with fresh flowers. This combination empowers florists to design when fresh botanicals are unavailable, when specific colors are needed or when it is financially imprudent to use cut flowers. Event and wedding florists have been combining these two media for years, especially with high hanging pieces and flower walls. For retail florists, adding permanent botanicals in sympathy pieces has enabled them to give their clients that must have sunflower in December. How many of us have taken orders for a dozen red roses with one artificial rose representing the senders’ steadfast love? Thanks to the high quality of many of today’s permanent botanicals, many of which are indistinguishable from their fresh counterparts, and an artistic blending with fresh cut flowers, arrangements created with this combination can literally make lasting impressions.
How many of us remember being told that we must design with either temperate or tropical flowers but never a combination of both? Recently, renegade designers who create Tropical Nouveau expressions – mixing tropical and temperate flowers in designs – have entered the mainstream design world. Thanks to Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, owner of Design 358 in British Columbia, Canada, who is credited for coining the phrase “Tropical Nouveau,” this new floral art category is catching on fire. This school of thought now gives permission to floral designers to harmoniously blend distinctive flowers together to highlight contrasting textures, colors and botanical characteristics. Tropical Nouveau allows florists to push the limits of designing on the edge of creativity.