Once a way of holding individualwas discovered the tied bunch gradually disappeared. Flowers and other materials were arranged individually, but because both the round and the cone-shaped bunches or posies were generally such pleasing and practical shapes for table centre , the pattern prevailed. It is now known as an ‘all-round’ design. This means that it is arranged so that it looks well when viewed from all angles. Although this is a traditional style, it is an essential one to perfect, whatever your inclinations, because it underlies many other types of arrangement from Christmas decorations to Byzantine cones.
Sometimes flowers are massed almost as tightly as once was the custom, but generally speaking in an all-round arrangement each flower is given its own living space. Consequently we use fewer and see more of them.
The rules of this style of arrangement are constant. The main feature is a centralor axis with all the other radiating from it as though they were the spokes of a wheel. You can vary the basic pattern as much as you will. To make a taller, shorter, wider, longer, flatter type of arrangement you merely vary the lengths and the proportions of the centre and side stems according to what is required. The intermediate stems will follow the outline logically.
It takes only the slightest adaptation to change the dome or half-sphere to a cone. The centre stem is elongated. It really is very simple.
A fact which is not always immediately apparent to the beginner is that many stems in an arrangement have to be shortened if they are to be arranged just as you would like to see them. Some people are reluctant to cut long stems, especially with bought flowers, but it is not possible to arrange them attractively unless some are shortened.
Building it up
For the true beginner I recommend that the bowl in which the flowers are to be arranged is regarded as a clock face. The central stem is the very centre of this face and must be vertical. Next arrange the first two side stems by placing one at 3 o’clock and another opposite at 9. Then turn the bowl and arrange two more stems, one at 6 o’clock and another at 12.
The first two define the length of the arrangement and these two stems should be of equal length. The second two define the width and although they again should be of equal length they need not be so long as the first two. Very often you want a bowl to follow the line of a table rather than to occupy a precise circular area in its centre. These four stems should be at right angles to the central pivot, the vertical stem. Others arranged later can flow lower. Next fill in the other ‘hours’ with 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11. None of these should protrude beyond the first stems arranged. By this time the area around the rim of the bowl should be furnished and a good start has been made on the arrangement.
Other stems should now be arranged so that they fill the area from the tip of the central stem to the rim of the. It is most important if the arrangement is to be well balanced and symmetrical that no stem other than the first, central one is vertical. Every other stem should lean away from this important centre stem to a greater or lesser degree, and no stem should be taller than the centre.
A good move at this point is to adjust the bowl so that you have the centre and the first two side stems which you arranged in profile. Arrange a stem halfway between them. This should lean at roughly 45 degrees from the centre. Arrange another on the opposite side of the bowl in the same way. Then place intermediate stems between these. Now give the bowl a quarter-turn and repeat the process. Then turn it again and so on until the main shape is defined. You can then fill in with shorter stems orshould this be necessary. As you become more proficient you will find your own short cuts to easier arrangement and effective results, but once again, you must remember to keep the central stem the tallest.
These directions are for a formal arrangement which when finished resembles roughly a half-sphere, an arrangement within a semi-circular outline. This theme lends itself to many variations.
Tips for all-round: Here are some points which you may find helpful. To insert flower stems easily, hold them near the base and not near the bloom. If a stem curves (always look for the slightest curve in any stem) exploit it and see that this curve flows away from the straight centre stem. If all the stems are slightly curved make the central stem ‘vertical’ by placing its tip over its base. If flowers face one way, like narcissi for example, let them have their backs to the centre.
Try to create the effect that all the materials flow from one central point, the point immediately around the base of the vertical stem. Obviously you will not be able to fix all the stem bases in that small area but if when you arethem you point them in that direction you will achieve that effect. Any stems which have to be crossed should be crossed only below rim level. Never complete one side of an all-round arrangement first; keep turning the and you will get a well-balanced design.
Although I have referred to a bowl, the container does not necessarily have to be round. It is possible to make round arrangements in rectangular troughs, although as a rule these are best to use if you intend to elongate the half-sphere to make a half-oval.