By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The second portion of the Garden Club’s February meeting was a presentation by Bob Bell, of Perry. Introduced by Garden Club President Martha Beggs as a “natural-born designer,” Bell, who has given presentations in several other venues on the essentials of tablescapes and centerpieces in floral design, took the floor to talk about the elements that go into successful designs. In particular, he discussed weight (visually “heavy” objects versus light and airy ones), scale (size of the design in relation to the space it occupies) and texture.
“There’s not really a book you can learn it from,” he said in answer to a question from the audience. “It takes working at it and working with it until you start to understand the mechanics of it.”
There were also some “rules” about design that “you just have to throw out the window,” such as the one about dark colors always being “heavy” and pale colors always being “light,” because they don’t always hold true.
Developing an eye for design doesn’t happen overnight, he added. Even then, “you have to play with things until you get something that looks right. I have cut flowers five and six times and used them over and over in different ways.”
But when he set to work creating five very different floral designs to demonstrate his techniques, he didn’t seem to have much trouble, working smoothly and quickly.
He also showed how even very unusual objects could be incorporated into floral designs. His very first creation used artichokes and sago palm fronds cut into zig-zag patterns, teamed with Asiatic lilies. In place of artichokes, he told the audience, pinecones might also work.
With another creation, he demonstrated the use of complementary colors that played off the color of the vase, and showed that it isn’t always necessary to have a lot of flowers in some design work.
Another arrangement used a palm tree seed pod as vase, with a small plastic bowl glued to it to hold the oasis. Foliage often hides the plastic bowls in such arrangements, so it doesn’t matter what they look like, as long as they work. He added that the Dollar Stores were a great source for them, especially the cheap plastic pet food bowls, because they often had straight sides that were perfect for holding the oasis in place. With the addition of winter honeysuckle and bamboo, he presented an Oriental arrangement “Taylor County style” to a round of applause.
A piece of driftwood was another unusual object that served as a container. It was a piece that had sat out by his shed for several years, “until one day I just saw it in a different way.”
Once he had finished his five very different designs, they were auctioned off to the Garden Club members, one going for $65.