"I would recommend this practice to anyone: an exercise in unplanned creative play, whereby expectations and preconceived ideas are left at the door."
It is my belief that we all need our daily fix of nature – whether that is getting out into a park or further afield, or simply a walk around the block.
Nature thrives in the most unlikely of places – on roadsides and in the cracks of pavements, overgrown back gardens, apartment balconies and narrow alleyways. Time in nature is profoundly healing, it provides a sense of perspective about our place in the world, reminds us of the natural passage of time, and encourages wonder and curiosity for the world we live in.
By bringing the wild inside our homes we invite a different perspective in also. Taking the time to create an arrangement that works with your space and the season is in itself an exercise in self-care. We are allowing ourselves time away from everyday concerns, time to immerse in nature, to be guided by the natural products that we are working with and to let go of our control.
Influence is all around, especially if you’re really looking. Not just a list of expensive ingredients from far-flung places, but the plants in the garden or overgrowing and obstructing a path on the daily commute; flowers, foliage and produce in your local florist or greengrocer. We spend so much of our time looking on a surface level at what others are doing, that we forget to look on a deeper level at the everyday extraordinary that’s right in front of us.
I am most inspired by the seasons and what’s in abundance at any given time; it’s in the rhythms of the natural world, to appreciate and use what you have plenty of. My creativity is inspired by unexpected seasonal imperfections where time- and weather-worn stems are noticed and showcased. Taking notes from nature and letting them apply to the bigger picture.
For me, the ideal mind frame for creating an arrangement is finding a place somewhere between chaos and order, where the wild rules and the only thing for you to do is pick out the tones in a room, position a vase or imagine a narrative.
This nature-led approach is contrary to the fast, throw-away modern world of synthetic materials and forced straight stems of flowers, where bags of ‘imperfect’ carrots are sold cheap in supermarkets and lines on faces are filled in. As my friend David said, ‘As an imperfect species why on earth do we need to eat perfect carrots?’
Let Creativity Flow: Flowers in the Bathtub
Play is of great value. Having a go, experimenting, failure or success– it’s more about the journey, the act of creating, than producing a ‘perfect’ arrangement. The joy of flower arranging is in the gathering and selecting, the freedom of choices, and creating your own narratives for the spaces you are working in.
Allow yourself creative freedom with a loose, romantic design. Be reminded of the joy of unplanned situations and happy accidents that invite us to respond with creative license.
I have an uncanny ability to find myself in situations where I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing; no plan, no vision and no thought-through intention. It can arise in situations when I am very busy or disorganized, or trying to avoid a difficult scenario. I spend a great deal of my time planning weddings, events and the family calendar to the very finest detail.
When all the spinning plates stop and there is nothing left but a few ingredients, a space and a world of possibility, it can feel creatively freeing and terrifying in equal measure. It’s at such times that I’m reminded of Carl Jung’s words, "The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves."
Even if not on purpose, I would recommend this practice to anyone: an exercise in unplanned creative play, whereby expectations and preconceived ideas are left at the door.
This design was just such a happy exercise. The selection of flowers owes itself not only to the season, but to a mistake I made when ordering for the shop. It happens. If when life gives you lemons you make lemonade, then when life gives us roses let’s fill a whole bathtub. It is, after all, the largest vessel in the house.
The juxtaposition of a functional object, such as a bathtub, used for a flower arrangement brings a sense of fun and frivolity to this design and makes a fantastic statement piece for the home. However, any large vessel could be used here, such as a garden container or wide bucket.
Adapted from The Flower Fix by Anna Potter (Author) and India Hobson (Photographer). Copyright © 2019 by Anna Potter and India Hobson. Reprinted with permission of White Lion Publishing. All rights reserved.