Do the word pairings of "plant materials" and "floral design" irritate you as much as they irritate me?
I'm emboldened in my rant by the words of 89 year old Seattle landscape archited Richard Haag at a recent talk he gave to the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture at a conference in Austin Texas. “The term plant materials should be banished from our vocabulary. Plants are not materials. They are living organisms.”
Yes, exactly!! It always sounds so pretentious to me - or maybe ignorant - yet so many people refer to living, breathing, growing plants as "plant material' - as if they are one indistinguishable mass, inert as a couch or roll of wallpaper. And why use two words when one - plants - does a more precise and honest job?
Then there are those who refer to themselves as "floral designers". We're talking about people who arrange flowers, yes? Flowers are miracles of nature, the sex organs of plants, painted by the finest artists on the planet for centuries....how can we ever improve on them by "designing" with them??
There are true designers, who using nature as a muse, create something totally new and different, like Portland florist Francoise Weeks...see a story about her amazing work here. That's her pink flower purse, left: she also composes shoes, hats, and magical woodland creations out of vegetables, flowers, fruit, bark and a variety of botanicals she picks up at markets and clips from the garden.
But "bouquet maker" or even "flower arranger" although that sounds a little stiff, would better describe what most of us are up to.
What I love most about bringing flowers, leaves, bits and pieces in from the garden and plunking them into a vase is their individual shapes and colors, the sense of nature and wildness they bring with them. Don't you hate to see flowers arranged artifically, overstuffed, wired or sticking up rigidly out of a frog in the bottom of the vase? I want them to tilt and bend and cross, just like they do in the garden. The last thing a bouquet needs is over-thinking, overworking...designing....let the flowers speak for themselves. Which, like this black-bee-centered delphinium, they do quite eloquently.