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How to arrange a May garden flower bowl – a step by step guide

Published on May 10th 2021
This May, we're celebrating the fabulous floral blooms that adorn our green spaces come spring and summer! Flowers not only brighten up a room or garden patch but can have sentimental significance in our lives. In light of Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to highlight how gardens and nature, and flowers, in particular, can influence our well being.
If you're looking for a reason to get out in the garden this weekend, why not cut some flowers and create a gorgeous display for your home? In this article, floral artist, Brigitte Girling, walks us through making one of her special and sustainable garden bowl arrangements.
Shop flowers perfect for floral arrangements here:
Cut flowers being selected

The Cut Flower Collection

A vase of flowers on a table
© Brigitte Girling

There is something intrinsically beautiful about garden flowers, lightly arranged to enjoy in your home. Whether it’s a simple jug of scented blousy roses or a more curated look, displaying a few stems freshly picked from your garden is a pleasure that you shouldn’t underestimate. Flowers have the amazing power to lift your mood and bring a room to life.
My floral style is intentionally 'gardenesque'! By this, I mean I'll only use seasonal, garden-grown flowers in an environmentally sensitive way. I will not use floral foam, which is that green brick made of microplastics that does not biodegrade! Instead, I try to use materials that I can reuse over and over again.
So, let me show you how to arrange some of your own May garden flowers in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. Just remember, flowers are beautifully joyous, so simply enjoy the creative process and let the flowers dance and shine!

Some tips for before you get started

  • Cut your flowers and foliage early in the morning when they are at their plumpest and most hydrated. Avoid cutting flowers in the middle of a hot day!
  • Cut the stems at a 45-degree angle to maximise water uptake.
  • Take a clean bucket of fresh water with you. Trim any leaves or thorns off the stems that will be below the water before placing them in your bucket. This prevents bacteria build-up.
  • Leave your flowers to rest for at least three hours in a cool room out of direct sunlight before arranging.

Equipment: What you'll need

  1. Some sharp snips
  2. A bowl to arrange in.
  3. I find cereal bowls the perfect size. Plus, they look lovely and won't break the bank!
  4. A scrunch of chicken wire.
  5. Some floral pot tape. Your local florist should be able to supply you with a roll of this.
  6. An inch layer of clean gravel for the bottom of your bowl. This isn’t essential but will help stabilise your design and give additional support to your stems.
When choosing your flowers from the garden, think about colour shape and form. I like to have a cohesive colour palette, and I look for colour transitions from flower to flower. So, for this display, I have gone for pinks, purples and blues. My inspiration starting point was the crab apple blossom. You may prefer to go for all the brights, but whatever you choose, remember this arrangement is for you and your pleasure, so go with whatever makes you happy and you will enjoy looking at it!
To make your overall arrangement interesting think about selecting larger flowers like Roses, Dahlias or big Ranunculus, alongside buds and smaller, daintier flowers for dancing through the display.
You want the show-offs and the more demure; the quietly unobtrusive and the dancing divas! In other words, the flowers selected for your bowl should tell a garden story.
Recipe for this bowl
  • 3 x stems of crab apple
  • 4 x stems of dark cherry plum foliage
  • 9 x stems of ranunculus
  • 2 x stems of butterfly ranunculus ‘Theseus’
  • 3 x stems hellebore ‘Dorothy’s Dawn’, one broken down into smaller sections
  • 2 x stems bluebell
  • 5 x stems of forget-me-not
  • 1 x stem of cow parsley broken down into sections
A close up of a flower
© Brigitte Girling

Step one

Loosely scrunch your chicken wire, place it in your bowl, and then secure it with the floral pot tape. Add the layer of gravel. Then add water to almost the top of the bowl.
Some silver chicken fence wire
© Brigitte Girling
A bowl of food
© Brigitte Girling

Step two

Place your foliage around the edge of your bowl to create an interesting outline. I work from the outside in, so the centre of the bowl remains empty of flowers and stems for what can feel like an alarmingly long time!
You will need to tuck the stems through the chicken wire and into the gravel for stability. Ensure all stems have had leaves removed that will be below the waterline.
The first few stems may feel a little loose and wobbly. But don’t worry, as more stems go in, they will knit together and stabilise.
A vase of flowers on a table
© Brigitte Girling
A vase of flowers on a plant
© Brigitte Girling
A vase of flowers on a table
© Brigitte Girling

Step three

Now begin to add in the big thicker stemmed blooms while you still have space in your bowl. They are very hard to get in later if the stems are thick. For this display, these are the Ranunculus and Hellebore.
Try to give each stem and flower its own space, don’t overcrowd them. This way, your design will feel lighter and airier and more garden-like.
Make sure each flower head is at a different height and different orientation to help create a visually interesting and natural-looking piece. Gently layer each new element, remembering that keeping a sense of space is key.
A vase of flowers on a table
© Brigitte Girling
A vase of flowers on a table
© Brigitte Girling
A close up of a flower
© Brigitte Girling

Step four

You are now ready to place the more delicate floaty additions that would easily damage if used too early on. These elements have the dual job of filling spaces low down and creating higher, whimsically, light, airy moments. This is what will bring your arrangement to life.
Do keep in mind what happens out in the garden too. So, group these lighter things to give more visual impact and replicate how they grow. Don’t just scatter them through as single blooms; they will just get lost.
A vase of flowers on a table
© Brigitte Girling
A vase of flowers on a table
© Brigitte Girling

Step five

Now place your beautiful arrangement in a setting where you can enjoy it, but out of direct sunlight and fluctuating temperatures. You will need to top up the water every day. It is amazing how much those flowers drink!
A vase of flowers on a table
© Brigitte Girling
A vase of flowers on a table
© Brigitte Girling

About Brigitte
Brigitte’s garden is chemical-free and a haven for wildlife. She does not use floral foam to create her arrangements but instead relies on sustainable mechanics to hold her stems in place and keep them hydrated.
Brigitte has created a series of seasonal online courses where she shows you how to create beautiful arrangements using garden flowers every month of the year. Her latest course, ‘A Year Learning from Nature’, is available for registration now. For more information, head to her website.
Get to know Brigitte and her love for gardens and flowers in our article below.
A close up of a flower

Candide's Personality of the Week: Brigitte Girling


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