I am on the side of Katharine S. White about arranging flowers: Fear Not!
Here is her husband, E.B. White, describing her as she creates floral bouquets: She never hesitated, she never fussed, and she was quite rough with flowers as if to say, “If you can’t take the heat, go away somewhere and wilt.” She worked quickly, deftly, and seemingly without plan.
This time of year, creating arrangements and dressed-up tables is something we do more than any other time of the year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years)—and just as things in nature are dying off and going dormant. So we must be even more resourceful and imaginative with the things at hand.
Thankfully there is a whole new movement in the floral industry and many different ways of thinking about flower arrangements (the word arrangement itself conjures up artless things of the past in my mind—the stiff, dreary, plastic-smelling things my mother got when she ordered from the local florist). There is so much to say about what is happening with flowers, the artistic, interesting, and inspiring work being done (There is the cultish following of Constance Spry, a British floral designer way ahead of her time, whom I am just reading up on). All of that for another time…
For now, for the upcoming holidays, let us touch briefly on what we can do. We can find flowers grown on flower farms that have real character and natural beauty (farmgirlflowers and localcolorflowers are two sources that come to mind, but there are many). We can forage in the woods or in our backyards for things like branches and berries and pinecones to mix in with what we buy (I am forever clipping ivy and throwing it in with everything). We can add fruit and nuts and miniature pumpkins and gourds. We can think outside the box in terms of containers, looking for things we have around that we never thought of putting flowers in (as long as it holds water!).
We can be minimalist or romantics, whimsical or elegant, but most of all, it might do us good to take a page out of Katharine S. White’s book and create something beautiful without fuss or hesitation—without overthinking. Fear not.