The peak of summer, when the sun beams down and flowers abound, is the perfect time to find inspiration in the world around you. This year, why not turn that inspiration into a practice of mindfulness through the art of flower arranging? It’s fun, pretty, and full of opportunities to tune in to your surroundings. Here are a few basic guidelines, along with some gorgeous floral creations by 20-year veteran ikebana artist Miyako Ballesteros, to get you started.
Less Is More
You don’t need dramatic arrangements or fancy, costly materials to bring life and color into your home. Embellish a windowsill with a few small blooms from your backyard, placed in delicate jars like the ones pictured below. If you’re using clear containers, add a few drops of food coloring to the water for a subtle flourish.
When using more than one container, consider how they work together to fill the space.
Flower arrangements can be so much more than placing stems in vases. These tools used by professional florists can open up new possibilities.
As you arrange, place each flower as if it’s facing the sun: up and out.
Line, Color, and Space
THE BASICS OF ARRANGING
Before you start a mindful flower arrangement, there are a few things to consider:
START WITH SPACE
Where do you want your creation to live? Once you’ve chosen a space, examine it from all angles to get a sense of shape, lighting, color, and general atmosphere.
GATHER YOUR MATERIALS
Ask yourself what flowers and container will harmonize with the space you’ve chosen. What colors and shapes? For example, do you want something tall and skinny, or full and round?
FIND THE LINE
To start, choose a flower with a strong line, ideally the tallest flower you plan to use, and place it. Then work down from highest point to the lowest.
NOTICE AND FEEL
Before you place each flower, hold it in your hands; notice the curve of its stem. Twirl it around to see how it looks from different angles. Notice the variation in color, the direction the flower is pointing. Consider how it harmonizes with the space and arrangement. Then, slowly and with intention, place the flower.
A Fresh Look
Try going for a walk to look for natural materials to arrange with. Don’t restrict yourself to just flowers—look for interesting branches or even pieces of bark, as in the arrangement pictured above. Get experimental.
“Pairing the natural flora of your area with cut organic flowers is one way to arrange in a conscious manner,” writes Anthony Ward in his 2017 book, Being with Flowers. Using found materials is not only an opportunity to get creative with arrangements, it also offers a new way to interact with your environment. “As you start to observe the world around you in the present moment, you may find more to work with than you expected.”
Contrast, Balance, and Movement
BEYOND THE CONVENTIONAL
Don’t be afraid to be bold. This arrangement, for example, is all about texture and focal point. It features only one flower, yet the flower makes a serious statement. Jutting dramatically to one side, all the materials work to create a line that draws the eye toward that pop of pink. And the dry, gritty textures contrast the silky softness of the fresh gerbera daisy.
As you’re arranging, feel how your body responds to each placement. Trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to move things around or take pieces out.