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Lifestyle February 2, 2017

The Language of Flowers

Think big and introduce dramatic floral elements that will elevate special gatherings around the table to an extraordinary feast for the eyes and senses.

Wild and expressive, the new flower arrangements draw inspiration from 17th century Dutch botanical paintings, the gothic intrigue of Victoriana and the old-fashioned romance of overgrown, secret gardens. In combination with a moody colour spectrum, impasto-style textures, refined furnishings and decorative elements picked straight from the cabinet of curiosities, it’s a style that heralds the revival of dramatic floral presentations using masses of seasonal flowers and gently worn opulence.


Words: Mandy Allen | Photography: Warren Heathw


Ice Age

See the beauty of flowers from a different perspective by freezing edible petals in ice cubes. What better way to perk up drinks that with the vibrant colours of rose petals, nasturtium, borage, marigold and pansies?


  • Fill an ice tray a quarter of the way, preferably with non-carbonated mineral or distilled filtered water (this will prevent any cloudiness and bubbles that might result from using tap water).
  • Add flowers or petals facing down and freeze.
  • Once fully frozen, add water to the top and freeze again.
  • Tip Using just-boiled water when making the first step of your ice cubes will cause certain flowers such as violas, calendula and borage to release their natural dyes.


Nature Study

Never mind floral prints on linen. Here the flowers have become the tablecloth, displayed en masse under a raised glass top. The end result is nothing less than breathtaking. Take a modern approach with mix-and-match tableware such as vintage with minimalist and in contrasting colours. Extend the sense of drama with flowers that spill out from underneath the glass display top.

• Measure your table and have a piece of clear glass cut to fit the entire length of it, or just a section.
• Place the glass on top of two sturdy strips of wood (approximately 1×1.5 inches high, the length dependent on that of your glass) and secure with clear-drying wood glue. The aim is to create an easily removable raised glass top underneath which to display your flowers.
• Arrange your flowers on your dining room table and place the raised glass frame over them.
• Use as a centerpiece display, or, if your glass top runs the length of your table, place your settings on top of it. The rich colour palette is inspired by the moody oil colours of the Dutch Golden Age where flowers were a favourite theme.


Growth Spurt

As if having been sprinkled with seeds and left to sprout, this dramatic feature chair is pure romantic whimsy and makes for a far more delightful floral display than a vase.


  • Scour the junk shops for a second hand period or reproduction chair.
    • Remove the seat upholstery, if possible leaving the frame and any coils intact.
  • Place pieces of damp oasis inside the seat and arrange your flowers, paying careful attention to building up the height of the display as well as draping a few vines and flowering tendrils down to the floor.


Frame of Reference

The hobby of flower pressing gets a modern update. This installation on a plywood-clad wall was created by pressing flowers and leaves, spray-painting them a uniform colour (in this instance, white), sticking onto artist’s quality white paper and displaying in simple, contemporary frames – some overlapping for an informal effect. These are juxtaposed with a vintage painting in an unusual mahogany frame. A real posy of white flowers in a ceramic wall-mounted vase creates a sense of layering while a vase, typically designated to a table top, is displayed playfully on the floor. A velvet-upholstered French sofa and scatter cushions bring the opulence, a floral-bedecked rug the colour. And for modernity, a footstool upholstered in chunky tweed and two contemporary side tables in glossy black and natural wood echo the wall.

• Choose your flowers and foliage. Make sure everything is dry and blemish-free.
• Place the flora between two sheets of plain parchment or wax (sandwich) paper and put these face down in the middle of a telephone book.
• Once closed, weigh the book down and leave for a week to ten days.
• These flowers were spray painted white once dried and attached to paper using artist’s adhesive, then framed for a dramatic display.
• Don’t saturate your dried flora with paint – spray lightly to allow some of the colour to still show through.


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