With its dramatic vertical and horizontal planes, this design style generates arrangements that can be not only exciting and distinctive but also budget friendly yet profitable.

Floral design, photography and text by  Mike Hollenbeck, AIFD, CFD from Floral Artistry  located in Lewiston, Idaho

Designing floats for The Rose Parade, I have learned that zoning materials and using bold colors translate well to everyday flower arrangements. These techniques convey positive energy and high vibrations, perfect for expressive designs for any type of celebration as well as any arrangement that you want to stand out of the crowd. 

This design style could be best described as “interpretive New Convention,” which features strong vertical and horizontal planes that are at 90-degree angles to each other. Basing techniques, such as clustering, layering, terracing and pavéing are often incorporated into designs of this style. In strict New Convention designs, negative space is incorporated between the vertical groups of materials, of which there may be two or more; the vertical and horizontal placements are reflective of each other, meaning that they comprise the same botanical materials; and the horizontal placements may extend on all four sides (front, back and sides). 

Because I own a retail flower shop, I am always looking to create distinctive designs that are budget friendly. With this design style, I am able to utilize short- and broken-stemmed flowers in the basing techniques, instead of discarding them, which is a great way to maximize profits.


Step 1

Thoroughly soak one brick of floral foam in properly proportioned flower nutrient solution, and place it into the liner provided with the wood planter. Arrange Japanese aralia leaves atop the surface of the floral foam. Next, arrange stems of Gladiolus and Delphinium vertically and parallel to each other, with space between the flower types, to create the two main vertical lines.

Step 2

Arrange DianthusHydrangea, roses and lotus pods, clustered and grouped, into the base of the design. Cut one lotus pod in half, and hot-glue both pieces to the front of the planter, to create an extended terraced effect. Arrange pheasant feathers vertically above the lotus pods, to create another vertical group and to extend the line of the terracing effect.

step 2

Step 3

Arrange stems of bells-of-Ireland vertically next to and behind the Delphinium placements. Next, arrange stems of stocks and Calathea leaves to extend horizontally from one side of the design, and arrange stems of Mokara orchids, Goanna Claw and laua’e fern to extend horizontally from the opposite side of the design. Incorporate additional color and texture, by arranging, in groups, stems of chocolate lace flower, silver BruniaHypericum and hanging Amaranthusinto the base of the design.

step 3

Step 4

Arrange stems of Anthurium in the front center of the design, and place stems of Flexi Grass to create dynamic curvilinear lines in the design.

step 4 close up



Anthurium andraeanum ‘Gypsy’ (flamingo lily, tailflower) from Green Point Nurseries

× Mokara spp. (Mokara orchid) from Green Point Nurseries

Rosa spp. ‘Mondial’, stem dyed (hybrid tea rose) from Virgin Farms

Gladiolus spp. (sword lily, corn flag)

Delphinium × Belladonna (larkspur)

Moluccella laevis (bells of-Ireland, shellflower)

Matthiola incana (stock, gillyflower)

Hydrangea macrophylla (hortensia, French Hydrangea

Dianthus barbatus (hybrid sweet William)

Hypericum androsaemum (tutsan, St. John’s wort)

Daucus carota (chocolate lace flower, chocolate Queen Anne’s lace)

Amaranthus caudatus (love-lies-bleeding, tassel flower, foxtail amaranth)

Berzelia albiflora (formerly Brunia albiflora/Brunia laevis) (silver Brunia, knob bush, coffee bush)

Fatsia japonica (Japanese aralia, glossy-leaved paper plant)

Calathea insignis (rattlesnake plant) from Green Point Nurseries

Microsorum grossum ‘Laua’e’/Phymatosorus grossus (laua’e fern, wart fern, musk fern, maile-scented fern) from Green Point Nurseries

Schoenus melanostachys (Flexi Grass, black bog-rush)

Caustis recurvata (Goanna Claw, curly sedge, pubic hair sedge)

Nelumbo nucifera, pod (lotus, sacred lotus, Indian lotus)


Woodland Planter (White, 9.5” x 4.5”, 64847.01) from Accent Décor

OASIS® Floral Foam Maxlife

OASIS® All-temperature Glue Sticks

Pheasant feathers