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Bringing the Outside In

Around the Gardens Blog

Create one-of-a-kind seasonal arrangements by following these simple steps from floral designer Holly Carlisle of ROSEGOLDEN.

By: Mindy Keyes Black & Molly Hendry

Holly Carlisle’s tips for seasonal arrangements

While she volunteers each Wednesday in the Southern Living Garden, Holly Carlisle, owner of ROSEGOLDEN, a boutique event design and planning studio with a particular focus on seasonal sustainable floristry, often collects clippings and other materials that would otherwise be composted. She then creates what she calls a “seasonal sketch” to display in the lobby of the Garden Center. Follow her simple steps and find inspiration to craft a personal seasonal sketch from your own backyard.

Step by Step

1. Start with Mechanics

Holly uses clear tape to secure chicken wire, an eco-friendly way to keep stems in place while also allowing for more open and whimsical arrangements. Fill your container with water.

2. Pause & Observe

Take stock of what you have before diving in. “This is such a puzzle—it is so fun,” says Holly. “You have to examine the character of what you’ve clipped and start there.”

3. Add Structure

Here you’ll make your first big move of the arrangement. Holly chooses woody stems such as loropetalum and fothergilla for height and movement.

4. Bring in Favorite Foliage

Work with the most architectural pieces first. See what works. As you place smaller branches in the chicken wire, try gently twisting and pulling to find the best placement within the composition.

5. Flower Time!

Once you’ve established the main shape, then move to flowers. This layer adds softness and color and “really speaks to the moment,” says Holly.

6. Place Your Focal Point

Bold seasonal blooms near the center of your arrangement draw the eye and ground the design. For this recent arrangement, Holly chose a deep pink nerine for a pop of color.

Tips & Tricks

  • Avoid adding flower food to water in metal. This can cause a chemical reaction that causes spots on your flowers. (Feel free to add conditioner to a water-filled bucket.)
  • Increase the vase life of woody stems by slicing vertically into the center of the stems; this gives tissue more surface area to absorb water
  • When working with foliage, some branches can be challenging because they are weighted at the tips. Be patient to find that perfect spot.
  • Keep your arrangement hydrated to enjoy for days!