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French. Floral. Fun!

February 22, 2011

Longwood Gardens is pleased to welcome guest blogger Barbara Botting to “Behind-The-Plants!” Barbara was a first-time student in one of our Continuing Education Floral Design classes, and she is sharing her experiences with our readers.

I was thrilled to be invited to take a class at Longwood Gardens and to have the chance to learn the proper way to approach flower arranging! I work as a designer and stylist for editorial and commercial photography and film and often have to create arrangements for these projects. I have a sort of "make-it-up-as-I-go" approach, relying on my fine art education, an inspiration look-book I keep of lovely arrangements from magazines and my love of all things botanical.Buckets of flowers to choose from 

I chose French Couture Flower Arranging with Jane Godshalk—with my background in fashion, I could just imagine floral excess with attitude—how fun! Jane began the class with a slide presentation on the history of French flower arrangements and tied it into the couture fashions of each era. She then began her demonstration by showing us how to make the foundation for the vase and continued with an explanation of how to mass color and texture while she effortlessly created a gorgeous arrangement of cascading flowers enhanced by flowing, folded and artfully torn leaves. Jane also shared tips for those in the class who were interested in submitting an arrangement to the Philadelphia Flower Show.  After watching all this and learning the how-to techniques for using wires, tape and even a stapler, I was excited to execute my own arrangement.

My workstation in class, just before I started my arrangementThe classroom was impressive—all the supplies we needed were at our fingertips and besides Jane, there were experienced volunteers available to help. Buckets of simply breathtaking flowers and leaves were provided for us to choose from—roses, ranunculus, anemones, hydrangeas—an entire shelf of brilliant color and textures. Jane worked the room, sharing her enthusiasm and knowledge with each person, giving suggestions and answering questions. The energy in the class was super upbeat and fun. The four hours went by before you knew it and we were given the opportunity to have a look at everyone’s creation and share what we learned.

My finished arrangement










An arrangement I made the next weekend, inspired by the class!












The class was a delight and I wondered why I haven’t taken one before! My only regret was that I didn’t have my mom or a passel of friends to share it with me. I’m excited to work some of these inspiring techniques into arrangements for my styling projects and plan to send an update. Thank you, Longwood Gardens, for a truly inspiring experience!

Guest Blogger Barbara Botting

Ms. Botting is a visual artist whose work incorporates a variety of media. She has designed apparel for Urban Outfitters, the Gap and her own label soandsew. She is currently working as a stylist for print, e-commerce and commercial advertising. She also edits and styles private home interiors. Ms. Botting’s personal work, collages and bespoke necklaces, are made from found remnants and cast-off objects. She plans to have an etsy site and blog up soon!