This large, handsome book might be mistaken for a coffee table book, but it is far more. It is full of creative ideas and practical suggestions for arranging flowers that can inspire the novice or expert. It includes hundreds of pictures of actual bouquets and floral displays as well as photos of step-by step techniques involved in creating them. Elements of basic design and detailed information on plant material are also included.

A brief history of flowers through the ages is followed by a presentation on the importance and use of color, shape, and texture in floral design. Both containers and flowers are considered and general guidelines are given for planning an arrangement. The information is covered in general terms illustrated by specific examples. The effect of colors on each other, for example, is illustrated by showing the same arrangement with different colored backgrounds.

The most exciting part of the book is contained in 232 pages included in a chapter called “Inspirations”. And the floral displays contained in this chapter are truly inspirational! They include those for the home, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Weddings, and as gifts. Each floral display is presented on two adjacent pages with illustrations of the display, an alternative, and details of the flowers used along with directions for creating the display. One of my favorites is a creation made of the crinkled leaves of Savoy cabbage and bright red roses in a low terra cotta container. The alternative is very different but equally attractive; Savoy cabbage leaves with bright blue gentiana in a blue bowl. Small, large, fragrant, bold, structured, casual, dried, and more are all considered. There are so many imaginative ideas everyone can surely find something to suit his/her needs and wants.

A section on practical techniques includes tools and equipment as well as wiring, preserving material, wrapping and more. Each technique includes step by step directions with photos to illustrate each step. Four pages are devoted to wiring stems and flowers, cones and fruits. If you have never used a glue gun, don’t worry, the details for doing so are included. Have you always wanted to do a “hand-tied posy”? Illustrated directions are included.

The final section is a directory that lists over 300 plants important in the floral industry by botanical name and gives the common name, season of availability, size, vase life, and comments. Each entry includes a large picture of the plant material as it would come to you from a supplier. Additional pages present flowers and foliage by color, texture, impact, fragrance, and vase-life.

If you want to get ideas for creative floral displays this is an excellent choice. Just looking at the illustrations gets the creative juices flowing. Then in addition, you also get directions for creating the designs, and detailed information on a huge amount of plant material not generally presented in other books. With its lavish use of illustrations it can be a coffee table book but it has a great deal more to offer.

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By Karen