how to arrange flowers flawlessly and be confident in the process
Welcome to flower arranging for beginners. Learn how to arrange flowers with confidence like a professional. This is a story of overcoming fear of failure to arrive on the other side where empowerment and success reside. You can do it.
- Flower Arranging 101
- A Trip to the Flower Market
- I wandered about aimlessly, and then I started to dream.
- Flower Arranging: My First Moments of Sheer Panic
- Home to My Flower Arranging and More Panic
- Finally, I took a massive leap of faith and found the courage to say to myself, “You can do this.”
- A Mix of Fear and Exhilaration
- Flower Arranging: Success or Failure for the World to See
- A Girl on a Mission
- Beginner Flower Arranging Steps
- To Risk is to be Fully Alive
- Believe in Yourself
Flower Arranging 101
I bet you have a long list, like I do, of things you’re “not good at.” Some of those things might have landed on your list when you were a child and then over the years, little by little that list has grown. Well, one of the things on my list was flower arranging. I remember my grandmother lovingly arranging flowers in a bouquet. And I remember my mother struggling as she hopelessly tried to get a bunch of flowers to look like something more than just “flowers stuck in a vase.” She would say, “Oh, your grandmother is so good at that!” somehow planting the seed in my brain that this was something you either were or weren’t good at.
A Trip to the Flower Market
Flash forward to last Friday when my blogging buddy and super sweet can-do friend Janine of Happy Happy Nester invited me to accompany her on a trip to the San Francisco Flower Market. I was excited. What would I buy? Oh, probably nothing. I had no idea what to do with flowers. Or maybe I would do what I usually do to conceal this fact from the world. I would just buy a few flowers, and I would just stick them in a vase.
But something happened when we got to the flower market. I started getting excited. There were gorgeous flowers everywhere, more than I had ever seen. There were many kinds I had never seen before. My senses were utterly and completely overwhelmed with colors and smells. As I tried to take it all in a funny idea started to take over me. A little voice inside my head started to whisper, “You can do this.” It was faint at first, and I tried to ignore it.
Meanwhile, the other voice inside my head was much louder. It repeated what I had always told myself, phrases like, “You can’t arrange flowers!” “Don’t try it!” “You’ll fail!”
I watched Janine as she confidently wandered around picking up flowers, grouping them together, looking for the exact colors and composition that would look good.
I wandered about aimlessly, and then I started to dream.
What if I had the confidence that Janine did, and I could pick out flowers and make them look beautiful?
What if I tried?
The flowers were so gorgeous, so miraculous, and so tempting. All I had to do was listen to the voice growing louder, “you can do this.”
I picked up some flowers.
It took me awhile. I wandered around and around. I realized I was holding all of the same flowers Janine had. Oops. I put all my flowers down.
If I was going to do this I needed to reach inside, dig deep, and come up with my own vision and my own creation. I needed to be inspired. I wandered some more and looked with new eyes, fresh eyes. And my vision slowly came into view.
By the time I was done I had selected seven different kinds of flowers. Most of them I didn’t even know the names of. I hardly had an overlapping flower that Janine had. I had chosen a totally unique color scheme. And I was excited. I was going to do this.
Flower Arranging: My First Moments of Sheer Panic
As I walked away laden with two arms full of flowers, I had my first thoughts of panic. “What would I put them in?” I asked Janine. She said, “A vase?” I was like, “Oh, yeah, I have a vase.” Remain calm. But that wasn’t what was in my vision. I was picturing a real floral arrangement, one that would do justice to these amazing flowers. These weren’t just flowers from the grocery store. And I wasn’t going to just throw them in a vase and pretend that was it. These flowers were worthy of so much more. I knew I had to create something special.
Our next stop was the floral supply stores where I found the perfect containers. I found a rattan bunny and a few short moss-covered containers that would be ideal for my spring/Easter theme. I purchased a brick of flower foam, or oasis. As we chatted away, I could feel a growing anxiety. I felt a nervous energy that I tried to ignore. The voice said, “what if I can’t do this?”
Home to My Flower Arranging and More Panic
I finally got home and laid all my flowers out on the counter. Now the real panic started to set in.
I had no idea what I was going to do.
And I felt a time limit to figure it out. As I looked at the flowers, I could practically see them dying in the time I spent floundering.
I busied myself taking them out of their wrappers and rubber bands and quickly finding vases to hold them in. I filled 8 vases quickly with water and added all the flowers. There were more flowers than I had ever owned at one time, covering every surface of my kitchen.
My first thought (cop out) was okay, let’s just put them in a vase. The voice in my head was screaming now. “What were you thinking? You just wasted $65 on a pipe dream. You can’t do this and are completely ignoring the fact that you don’t know how to arrange flowers!” I thought, they are all going to die before I even come up with an answer. So, I put them in a vase.
Nope. They looked awful. They needed to be mixed. The colors and textures all needed to be seen. Some of the flowers I had bought were short. They wouldn’t work in the tall vases. I would either have to completely discard those or I was going to have to make a real arrangement.
Finally, I took a massive leap of faith and found the courage to say to myself, “You can do this.”
- I got out the rattan bunny
- cut a piece of foam to fit
- soaked it in water
- took some of the shorter flowers (a bunch of kale)
- trimmed them a bit and started sticking them in the foam.
- Then I took the next short group of flowers and stuck these slightly above and in between the kale.
Okay, okay, and I started to breathe again.
- Next, I took some of the taller flowers with lots of green foliage and thought, these look like a good “filler” flower. I stuck these in next.
- Next came the wow flowers, the ranunculus. My heart rate started to return to a safe level.
- I just kept building and adjusting until the bunny was full. Literally I couldn’t sick another flower in the foam. It had reached maximum capacity. Here is what it looked like:
A Mix of Fear and Exhilaration
But I still had a ton of flowers left. So, with hardly a moment’s rest (remember my flowers are dying) I realize now that the urgency I felt had nothing to do with the flowers dying. It had to do with my panic and fear that I wouldn’t be able to create something worthy. I couldn’t rest until I had disproved what I thought was possibly true. “I am unable to arrange flowers.”
So the next arrangement I did in the same manner. Quickly. Phew! As soon as I was done, I felt a calm come over me. I was relieved, but this feeling would not last.
Flower Arranging: Success or Failure for the World to See
I immediately took Instagram video stories of my creations and shared them with all of my followers and shared my disclaimer that I was “not a professional.” I asked for people to be kind when judging my creations. As soon as I stepped back and saw the arrangements in the videos, I knew the truth. They were disasters.
Of course, everyone was extremely nice. That’s why I love IG. But my sister told me the truth. She said they needed to be cut down. The arrangements weren’t tight enough.
I was crushed. I knew she was right. What was I thinking? I went to bed that night so completely embarrassed. Not only had I failed, but I had failed for everyone to see. I had showed my true self, my true “non floral arranging self” to the world. I was defeated. My worst fears realized. Here was proof: I couldn’t arrange flowers. Ugh!
A Girl on a Mission
The next morning, I woke up early. I was on “Miracle Morning” time, and I woke up feeling that same nervous energy. But something was different. I had already failed. There was something almost liberating about it. It could only get better from here. And I knew what I had to do.
I came into the kitchen and without even making myself a cup of coffee I took apart the designs, both of them. I put the flowers lovingly into vases to wait and started creating a new arrangement. This time I knew what I had to do. I was confident and completely at ease. And I did it. I created the vision that I had imagined in the flower market. This was my first floral arrangement, and by achieving this result I had officially quieted the voice in my head that said, “I don’t know how to arrange flowers.”
I was ecstatic, having concurred my fear.
There is no greater place on earth than standing on the other side of a conquered fear looking back at it!
I had taken something from my “I can’t do” list and moved it over to my “can do” list. I was renewed and empowered. If I can do this with flowers, what else do I want to try? Now that’s power!
As the sun started to come in the windows, I snapped a few pictures. The light was dramatic. The flowers took center stage, and the voice in my head said, “I knew I could do it!”
Beginner Flower Arranging Steps
- Begin with a vision. Choose colors that will go together. Choose flowers in shapes and textures that will be interesting.
- Have a container in mind so you can picture what you want to create.
- Have a way to hold the flowers: a floral foam or oasis, or other option. If you look this up there are lots of ideas like using floral tape to create a grid, or floral frogs, for example.
- Don’t be afraid to cut your flowers down so that they fit together tightly (my biggest mistake)
- Be willing to start over.
- Don’t be afraid. (Or if you are, don’t let it stop you!)
For more tips on how to master the art of flower arranging, check out this article from Better Homes and Gardens.
To Risk is to be Fully Alive
“Growing up” should not mean we stop taking risks and yet for many of us it does. We stop risking and we start building that box around ourselves, literally boxing ourselves in. And by the way, this box tends to shrink with each passing year unless you do something about it! Whether we realize it or not, as we “grow up” we start one by one taking things off our list of things we do and putting them on the list of “can’t do.” Our development becomes more and more solidified, static, or worse, in decline. Subconsciously, we stop doing things that aren’t on our narrowly defined list of “safe activities.” We stop trying new things or spending time doing things we aren’t good at. It could lead to us not looking good or embarrassment.
What if we failed? What would people think?
Believe in Yourself
If you could, what would you take off your “I can’t do” list? Is there something you used to LOVE to do that is now on the “can’t” list? Is there something you’d wish you’d tried but felt now it was perhaps too late? I bet there is.
Read our blog post “6 Habits to Change Your Life” and follow it with the book we recommend “The Miracle Morning.” We promise, these are going to give you the tools to start living life with a renewed power, so you can stop listening to the tapes that play in your head that say “you can’t” and start making new tapes that say.
“OH YEAH? WHO SAYS I CAN’T?”