There are a great many novelty varieties of carnations and spray carnations on the market today, and this design will reignite interest in these beloved, fragrant and long-lasting flowers.

Floral design, photos, video and text by Beth O’Reilly, AIFD, CFD, TMF

Beth with flowers ready to design
 Beth O’Reilly, AIFD, CFD, TMF

Gorgeous novelty varieties of carnations and spray carnations are the inspiration for this design: I wanted to create a design for Valentine’s Day showcasing some of the most exciting and new varieties on the market. I designed the bouquet using the spiral hand-tied technique, incorporating an armature that I created quickly with chicken wire and rattan sticks. This design is modern, versatile, practical and salable, and it showcases flowers other than roses. 

Spiral hand-tied bouquets can be sold as wraps or arrangements in vessels. They can be produced quickly during the holidays, created in any size, and dropped into a variety of shapes and sizes of containers—making them a great option for holiday designs.


flowers layer out ready to design

Step 1

Organize all of the botanical materials, and remove the foliage from all flower stems. This allows for quick designing, and clean stems allow for the easy removal and reinsertion of stems during the design process.

mechanics of chicken wire and medallino

Step 2

Create an armature with chicken wire and rattan sticks through which to arrange the flower stems. Cut a square piece of chicken wire, and round the corners into a circle. Weave rattan sticks, in a circular formation, through the chicken wire. The rattan sticks will be secured by tension only. Build layers of rattan sticks to create depth and a random pattern. Pay close attention to the outer edge of the armature, making sure it is covered well. Turn any chicken-wire edges in toward the armature to prevent snagging or poking. 

Beth working on the handled design

Step 3

Using the spiral hand-tying technique, arrange stems through the armature at a 45-degree angle. Turn the bouquet after several stem placements and continue the spiral hand tied technique, making sure every stem placement is at a 45-degree angle. For a lush bouquet with lots of stems, layer the blooms to create depth and interest.

underneath of bouquet
close up

Step 4

After arranging all the botanicals materials into the hand-tied bouquet, bind the stems securely with paper-covered wire (or, alternatively, stem wrap, binding tape, waterproof tape, raffia, etc.), and cut all the stems to the same length. A distinct spiral pattern of stems should be apparent, with all stems radiating from a central point. The spiral formation of the stems will enable the bouquet to stand on its own, without support, which is the true test of a properly made spiral hand-tied bouquet. 

DESIGN TIP: When making very large bouquets that can be hard to hold in one hand, bind the stems with paper-covered wire, as needed, throughout the design process. Keep the binding point clean by cutting away any excess wire. The less paper-covered wire used, the cleaner the technique and overall appearance will be. 

Step 5 

After binding the bouquet, trimming the stems and testing the balance of the bouquet, place it into a low, wide vessel that shows off the spiral hand-tied technique. 

finished design




• Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Nobbio® Argenta’ (carnation)

• Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Nobbio® Cherry’ (carnation)

• Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Nobbio® Dolce Nero’ (carnation)

• Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Piet’ (carnation)

• Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Romeo’ (carnation)

• Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Tenderly’ (carnation)

• Dianthus caryophyllus nana ‘Fiorino® Iris (spray carnation)

• Dianthus caryophyllus nana ‘Fiorino® Jay (spray carnation)

• Dianthus caryophyllus nana ‘18M 956’ purple/lavender (spray carnation)

• Ranunculus asiaticus ‘Cloni Success Hanoi®’ (Persian buttercup)

• Alstroemeria aurea/A. aurantiaca ‘Nashville’ (Peruvian lily, lily-of-the-Incas)

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

• Sticherus flabellatus, preserved, dyed (umbrella fern, shiny fan fern)


• OASIS Florist Netting (chicken wire)

• OASIS Bind Wire 

• OASIS Midollino Sticks

• Low, wide clear glass cylinder bowl/vase, 4” x 12”