One carefully considered sketch can serve as inspiration for multiple variations in the horizontal style.

There are so many good reasons you might want to create a design with a strong horizontal line: for a spot in a client’s home, for example—on a sideboard or hallway table or underneath a painting that the client doesn’t want obscured—or you might simply want to take advantage of the soothing, restful quality that horizontal lines bring to design. Then again, horizontal designs stand out simply because they are not the norm.

And why is that? Flower stems grow mostly vertically, which is why vertical lines dominate most flower arrangements. That could also be a reason that “horizontal design” might come up as a category in design competitions or professional evaluations; this design style poses a creative and technical challenge.

It’s a challenge you can meet head-on using the “Sketch and Score Method.” Start with a sketch. Evaluate the sketch with a score sheet, using the principles and elements of floral design as scoring categories. Then, adjust your design until it seems to merit a perfect score. Of course, you should also score any completed design you create using the template, even—or especially—if you have made substitutions in the materials used.

The process of sketching, scoring and designing may seem time consuming. But the method continually strengthens your ability to work quickly and confidently as a designer. And, once you have built up your own portfolio of proven template designs, you have a time-saving tool that can also jump-start your creativity, whatever challenges come your way. We’ll continue to explain more about the “Sketch and Score” method as we continue with this Florists’ Review series in future issues.

In this design, the horizontal lines are created with Equisetum and mahogany-hued bamboo. Some of the lines are almost perfectly horizontal, but others are set diagonally off-kilter, which gives the design energy and keeps it from becoming too static. Orange Asiatic lilies and spray roses are arranged together with green Cymbidium orchids to create an area of focal emphasis. The floral foam is covered with river rocks, to add natural interest to the design while keeping the negative space created by the horizontal lines above clean and transparent.


Rosa spp. (spray roses), Lilium spp. (Asiatic hybrid lilies), Cymbidium spp., Dianthus barbatus ‘Green Trick’ (hybrid sweet William), Hydrangea paniculata (miniature green Hydrangea), Equisetum hyemale (horsetail), Bambusa vulgaris (bamboo)


4 ”x 4” x 4” Square Vases (Clear/White) from Syndicate Sales, OASIS TM Bind Wire (Brown) and OASIS ® Floral Foam Maxlife from Smithers-Oasis North America, SimpleStyle ® Rocks from FloraCraft

The same template sketch can be used to create a light, fun version of the design with colorful plastic straws. Green button spray mums are positioned at various heights, which brings a botanical element up into the straw structure. The small button spray mums also add depth to the design, but most of the flowers, and all of the larger ones, are kept below the straws, creating an effect of two tiers or dimensions. Orange and yellow spray roses harmonize with the colors of the straws, white daisy spray mums add to the playful mood and Dendrobium orchids extend the horizontal line at the outer rims of the trio of square vases.


Rosa spp. (spray roses); Chrysanthemum morifolium (button, daisy and cushion spray mums); Dendrobium spp.; Pittosporum tenuifolium (tawhiwhi, kohuhu)


4 ”x 4” x 4” Square Vases (Clear/White) from Syndicate Sales; OASIS ® Floral Foam Maxlife from Smithers-Oasis North America; plastic drinking straws.

Rattan sticks are colorful, slender and flexible, which allow you to create elegant curved lines, some almost perfectly horizontal, others bent at dynamic angles. Using the rattan sticks in small bundles, banded with bullion wire, strengthens the line. Tailored Italian Ruscus is woven through the rattan sticks, lending additional movement and a natural feel. The focal area is created with two red Anthurium inserted as tiers, sheltering the green Cymbidium orchids underneath. On the other side, ‘Freedom’ roses are tucked in low to anchor the visual weight of the design.


Rosa spp. ‘Freedom’ (hybrid tea roses), Rosa spp. (spray roses); Anthurium andraeanum blooms and foliage (flamingo lily, tailflower); Cymbidium spp.; Pycnosorus globosus (billy buttons, drumsticks); Dianthus caryophyllus (carnations); Hydrangea paniculata (miniature green Hydrangea); Ruscus aculeatus (Italian Ruscus, butcher’s broom, box holly); Asparagus macowanii/A. retrofractus (ming fern)


4 ”x 4” x 4” Square Vases (Clear/White) from Syndicate Sales; OASIS TM Midollino Sticks, OASIS TM Bullion Wire and OASIS ® Floral Foam Maxlife from Smithers-Oasis North America.