Foolproof Floral Design

Too good to be true? I think not, if you will invest in a small book titled Flower Color Guide . This is a jewel of a book: easy to read, beautiful photos to peruse, and practical. 

The authors are Darroch and Michael Putnam, owners of the New York City florist, Putnam & Putnam. According to the flyleaf, “Color is at the center of their floral philosophy, and is the single most important element in their creative process. This book is a guide to using cut flowers organized by color.”

Each single page is devoted to one flower, complete with a full-page photograph and captions which identify the common name, the botanical name, peak season availability, category of flower in an arrangement (face, filler, gesture, or texture), and variety, color or description. It’s all right there in clear language and visual. With 400 photographs of flowers spanning the full spectrum of shades, Flower Color Guide is an essential tool for flower selection and arrangement. The authors admit that “this is the book we wish we had to help us when we started.” 

Terms that are specific to the authors’ approach are explained by the fact that “different flowers bring different qualities to an arrangement,” and a balance of these is important. They see flowers in four groups. 1) Face flowers, such as amaryllis or peonies,provide the main feature or a big statement. 2) Textural flowers, such as astilbe, add complexity. 3) Gesture flowers, such as tulips, create depth and shape . 4) Filler flowers, such as roses or carnations, are useful for blending colors and creating a base structure.

The pages of the book invite you to keep turning, continuing through the color palette from white to blush pink to green and yellow, blues and dark purple. The guide suggests ways to “gradate” colors in an arrangement. When Darroch and Michael teach a class, they begin with having two stems representing two colors from different sides of the spectrum and then adding stems of different colors that bring the arrangement together. 

A “florist friend” gave me this book for Christmas, and I am knee-deep in it. I have not always thought floral design and arranging was “my thing,” but this book has convinced me otherwise. It’s easy to identify with someone who says, “More than anything else, color is how people instinctively think about flowers—whether planning for a wedding, commemorating an occasion, or looking for an easy way to bring life into a space.” Amen to that.