I was entranced when I saw the exhibit on miniature floral designs this spring at the National Garden Clubs convention held in Buffalo. Miniature arrangements are something anyone can do and you can be as creative as you like.
In flower shows, a miniature flower arrangement can’t exceed five inches in any direction, and sometimes the rule is set at three inches, said Carolyn Doerflein, National Garden Clubs accredited master flower show judge, who created the exhibit. At home you can make the arrangement any size you want.
You can use a miniature floral arrangement in a shadow box, in a powder room, on a breakfast tray or on any small shelf. At a dinner table, Doerflein suggested using individual miniature designs to coordinate with the centerpiece.
On a less artistic but more practical note, I think her ideas for miniature flower containers are a brilliant solution to the problem of how to display children’s bouquets. Those bouquets are often quite stubby because little children don’t yet know that you’re supposed to pick some stem along with that flower!
Doerflein offered many clever ideas for containers.
For the hunters out there, save your bullet casings– they work well for this project. They can be silver or brass, dull or shiny. To make the bullet casing more stable, attach a metal washer to the bottom using Liquid Nails or Gorilla Glue, she said. You can add twisted wire for a decorative touch.
She also showed miniature flower arrangements created in a polymer clay vase. You can make the vase in any size, shape and color you like. Using nail polish on the inside and outside will seal it.
Even a small sea shell can be a container. Glue a flat button on the bottom to make it more stable.
Other container ideas include:
- Lipstick tubes
- Doll house and miniature house accessories
- Trinket boxes
- Plumbing and electrical connectors
- Jewelry pieces and findings
- Wooden spools
- Drawer pulls and knobs
- Salt shakers and cellars
- Egg cup
- Ink well
- Nuts and bolts
- Stiffened fabric
- Incense burners
- Toothpick holders
- Napkin rings
- Small caps and lids
- Small toys
- Perfume bottles
- Jam dish
The scale of a flower arrangement is always important, but it may be trickier to get right when you’re working with such small items.
Doerflein included this graphic in her exhibit to remind us of what we’re aiming for.
For a three-inch design, a one-inch high container is about the maximum size, she said. Make sure it’s not too wide or visually heavy. The wider the container is, the shorter it must be. A container about the size of a toothpaste cap or thimble would be appropriate.
For a five-inch design, a container with the volume of a walnut would be appropriate.
What will you put in a container that tiny?
“Don’t limit yourself to looking at tiny plants,” Doerflein said.
Large plants often have tiny parts, she pointed out:
- A huge grapevine has tiny tendrils.
- A large boxwood or barberry shrub has small leaves.
- A 50-foot maple tree has small seeds in a cool package (those helicopters or whirligigs).
- An allium flower might be a large ball, but you can pull the flower apart and use individual florets.
Also look at flower buds, house plants, potpourri, grasses, seed pods, pine needles, cones, sedum, succulents and plants with stunted growth or new growth.
Some favorite plants for miniature designs include baby’s breath, kalanchoe, pokeweed flowers and dwarf hostas.
Doerflein had encouraging words for people who think they might not be able to tackle floral design. She points out that design principles are universal. You have probably arranged furnishings in your home or selected accessories for an outfit.
“You are already a designer!” she said.
Photos by Connie Oswald Stofko