Learning the Art of Rose Arranging

PLONK.   Have you plonked lately ?  We first heard this word on the Rose Forum a few years age.  It didn't sound like a real word until we checked the dictionary where it's defined as a variation of PLUNK.  So, if one plonks flowers into a vase, bottle,container, or receptacle, then she is a plonker - a happy soul who loves roses & other companion flowers plonked in a fruit jar or whatever is handy.

The act of plonking is effortless and satisfying.  It can be done with little or no training & there are no rules or guidelines.  The results can be quite wonderful decorations for home & cheerful gifts for friends.  The only place plonked, plunked or thrown together bouquets might not fare well is in the arrangement division of a rose show.  It happens quite often when beginners try their hand without some guidance or research.  The schedule may call for a mass or a line mass design, but the entry is an unplanned bouquet quite often in a crystal vase.  Perhaps there is a sad Plonker after judging when the bouquet has earned no ribbon . . .

PLONKER vs ARRANGER.   Is it possible for a plonker to become a designer or arranger & a real competitor?  Absolutely!  The American Rose Society has a publication called Guidelines for Judging Rose Arrangements which is available from their website. It includes many tips on converting a PLONK style into a PRO style.

The important ingredients are the PRINCIPLES and ELEMENTS of design that are the backbone of all art forms. They include: balance, dominance, contrast, rhythm, proportion, & scale.  The elements add: space, line, form, size, texture, pattern, & color.

When an arrangement is planned around these important items,  a PLONK bouquet becomes a design of beauty with expression, harmony, & distinction. Furthermore, the arrangement may be constructed to interpret a particular theme. Interpretation is not too easy with a PLONKED bouquet.

So you see, with a little effort, a PLONKER can indeed become a happy ARRANGER, too  .  .  .  .

Parallel and Reflective Designs

These two are quite different, but share the basic modern characteristics:

  • bold colors & forms

  • space emphasized
  • balance either dynamic or asymmetrical
  • dynamic strong lines
  • rhythms may be abrupt but move throughout the design
  • unusual containers with many openings
  • more than one center of interest or points of emergence



Parallel Designs

These have two or more groupings of materials (using 1 or more containers as one unit. Jo prefers an odd number of groupings, usually 3 and find it easiest to use 1 low horizontal container rather than a combination of containers. 
The groupings of materials may be placed in any direction (vertical, horizontal, diagonal,) but must be parallel in those same directions. 
There must be a negative space between the groupings of roses a& other plant materials, but it must appear as one unified arrangement.  (Tall iris or flax leaves can provide an upward thrust.)  
All rose types may be used in any combination. 
Repetition of colors & forms help the unity of this kind of arrangement, which often yields very lovely designs.



Reflective Designs

These designs contain materials that reflect or give back images of light, other components, or the viewer. 
Use of a mirror is not the best idea here.  Choosing components such as metal containers & man-made materials which provide a reflective characteristic work best.  We are providing a space for the viewer to replace her lipstick!! 
But we are suggesting a slight & subtle reflective quality in a creative design of roses and other components. (BTW: photos should be taken at an angle to avoid flashback.)

Transparent  Designs

A TRANSPARENT design is a 3-dimensional design where some components are seen through other transparent components.  Naturally transparent materials may be fibrous roots, coral seafans, or trimmed foliages.  Imagination is required !!  
Man-made transparent materials are endless - but remember to keep it simple. 
- Remember BOLD
-Remember HAVE FUN !!

Plonking, Plunking, or Arranging ??

Some Modern Styles

Modern Design Basics

MODERN DESIGNis an entire class based on a new approach to design that incorporates space within the design:

  • Using forms & shapes in unusual ways to express original concepts

  • Roses & all components used are organized according too the fundamental elements of design


At first, this all seems a bit ponderous.  Just think of these types of arrangements as having fun - being creative.  Forget about set rules of single focal points & geometric forms that are typical in traditional arrangements. 
Find that cutting edge new material to pair with roses - to showcase the roses.  In the beginning, it may seem to some arrangers that this is way too difficult.  Where will I look for inspiration?  Where will I look for new materials ?  
We now see arrangers using plastic, metal, & even mesh from a storm drain!  But in the right creative hands, used tactfully - it can be beautiful.

​​The Tacoma Rose Society