Gill South: The art of flower arranging

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A beautiful bouquet of carefully arranged flowers can bring great joy to those who set their sights on them. Photo / Thinkstock
A beautiful bouquet of carefully arranged flowers can bring great joy to those who set their sights on them. Photo / Thinkstock

As any of you who has been paying attention would know, I've been yearning to do a flower arranging course for years. When I was reporting on the fashion business in London, I would profile a fashion house every week and most weeks, in thanks, I'd be sent a lush bouquet of flowers - to the disgust of my hard news colleagues.

I love the idea of learning how to create a similar bouquet of flowers for home or as a gift for friends. So finally I have got my A into G and I've booked an evening course at Vida Flores in Newmarket. Davina Prankerd there is incredibly down to earth but rather impressive at the same time - she did all the flowers for World Cup lounges through the country and has a whole events business as well as being a florist.

We are a cosy group of three on this chilly winter night at the McColl St premises - one woman has come all the way from Waiheke Island. Davina just starts putting bouquets together in vases in a very matter of fact way, in fact we remark that she could be accused of plonking them in, but I guess that's what you do when you know what you are doing, and she is getting good coverage, as she says.

We learn a number of important pointers, such as vase shapes are crucial. Davina has a huge stock of vases, so I get to try out a few arrangements in a variety. Another tip, Auckland Flower Market runs in Mt Wellington on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so those days are the best days to buy your fresh flowers. Vida Flores allows people to come and buy their flowers for their own arrangements on Wednesdays. I'll definitely be doing that.

One of the most important tips I learn from Davina is the Sellotape trick. You fill up your vase with water and then put a lattice of tape across the top of it, in the pattern of noughts and crosses so you are working within a grid. This way, you use half the amount of flowers you normally would, says Davina. And you can take the tape out once you've done the arrangement. We give it a try, arranging our nice green, magnolia stalks all around the outer part of the grid, (our foliage base) then, plonking our slender, reddish flax in the centre, nice and tall. For some colour we add pretty pink and purple stock, then lastly we put in oriental yelloween lilies, placing them so they stick out, evenly distributed round the side and the front. The idea is that you are creating levels, says Davina.

I bring home my beautiful bouquet of flowers, wrapped in glossy white paper and a black ribbon and a brand new vase. I have strict instructions to change the water every two days and cut the stems with some decent garden clippers. Almost two weeks on, my flax and camelia stalks are still going and I've put some beautiful orange lilies in.

As a brown thumb, this is a small miracle, most plants don't last that long with me. It gives me enormous joy every time I look at my arrangement sitting cosily in its brand new vase, shaped like an icecream cone. I've asked Davina to book me into her next class, where I will learn how to make up a bouquet in my hand, "hand-tied" they call it.

I'm going to be a floral rockstar by the time Davina is done with me.

Next week:

I will report back to you all about my Dry July. May I remind you it's been the school holidays, so a bit of sympathy please.

- NZ Herald

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