Fresh flowers as gifts, decorations, and meaningful installations.
You know that flowers are a hot commodity when florists are hailed the new creatives and artists of our time.
After all, Ikebana, also known as Kado, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, is just that, an art form that takes years to master.
Artistry aside, the language of flowers has always ‘spoken’ when words fail, whether it’s to say you love someone, thank you, feel better soon, or that you will miss them forever.
At celebrations and festivals, nothing speaks louder than fresh blooms. Every year, I look forward to catching the Pasadena Rose Parade on TV, held annually in California, for the beautiful flower-covered floats. At weddings, I’m also usually more interested in the floral set-up and the bride’s bouquet, than what she’s wearing!
I know many flower enthusiasts who have a travel-related flower bucket list: they must see cherry blossoms in Japan, photograph tulips in Holland (actually they are native to Turkey in central Asia), walk through lavender fields in Provence, sniff a Bulgarian rose or two, the bloom of choice in many iconic fragrances… you get the idea.
The power of flowers can be seen in the success of Gardens by the Bay. Since its inception, its visitorship has surpassed 33 million.
The period leading up to and including Christmas is the perfect season to use flowers to express joy and celebration. Traditionally, winter blooms such as roses, poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly with red berries are used during this special time, but December’s celebratory flowers need not be confined to these. Hellebores, also called Christmas rose, a succulent known as Christmas cactus, Paperwhite narcissus bulbs, cyclamens and amaryllis make beautiful floral presentations this time of the year too.
Ng Yi Lian of Yi Lian Ng Floral Atelier recommends,
“Ilex berries of course! This very seasonal bloom is only available at this time of the year and they are also quite hardy and can last for a good month at least, despite their high cost. And their red is so vibrant and bright—they add an immediate festive presence to whichever environment they are in.”
If you or your gift recipients don’t like flowers, there’s always a smart and meaningful pot of rosemary plant – gender non-specific, season-appropriate, and smells wonderful. Or the Phalaenopsis orchid, which is more sculptural than pretty, and looks good in any home.
The thing about using fresh flowers (and some plants) as gifts, to decorate and create ambience for your home and festive get-together, is that you get the additional aspect of scent, a lingering presence that’s as beautiful as the flowers themselves.
Flowers as Gifts
The hand bouquet is still the gift of choice, also because it’s no longer only associated with romance and date nights.
Two general looks seem to be trending: An assortment of delicate blooms in mismatched colours, held together with humble twine and plain brown paper, all made to look like you picked them yourself during a walk in the countryside; or largish, well-defined blooms with broad leaves that spell drama.
The vase arrangement is always seen as more value-for-money, since the vase itself is an ornamental keepsake for your gift recipient.
Flowers in round or square boxes are casual and convenient if you’re bearing them yourself.
Dried or preserved blooms make pretty olfactory gifts too. They’re a clever 2-in-1 solution – both home scent and decoration.
For bouquets, floral artist Yi Lian likes
“Ilex, as mentioned above, because of how festive they look, but it’s always fun to mix them with other flowers, especially in colours of red, green and white. I don’t believe in using only seasonal flowers, but working around colour palettes more. I also like including dried cotton flowers into the mix because they do have a certain festive look and since they are dried flowers, you can keep them for a long time.”
Flowers as Decorations
If you have a small balcony with sturdy plants like lemon trees and frangipanis, you can DIY holly twined hoops that you can hang on the tree branches. Or suspend small pots of poinsettias for lots of rad-red colour in the home.
A centerpiece for the dinner table will be well admired, as well as offer lots of mileage, especially if you will be hosting dinner parties over the festive period. And you can’t go wrong with reds and greens, as well as touches of silver and gold. Prefer something more serene? Work with white flowers and branches of white pine.
Or decorate an elongated platter with multi-coloured blooms and place a row of gorgeous-smelling white scented candles in the middle of it.
Don’t like the restriction of platter, vase, or bowl, go organic: in place of a table runner, line the centre of the table with a thick bed of evergreens or moss, and add pine cones, red roses, baubles and candles.
Once you’ve decided on the look of the centerpiece, the rest of your home should follow suit, or at least have variations of the theme installed too – on sideboards, side tables, coffee and patio tables. You could also take it a step further and garnish the food you’re serving with the same type of flowers.
An Advent wreath can also be the focal point of your Christmas decoration, if you place it in the living or dining room. Not to be mistaken for a holiday wreath that’s hung, the horizontal Advent wreath that’s placed on a flat surface, is a meaningful installation that reflects the four weeks leading up to Christmas day.
Advent wreaths are not difficult to make, but you can also get a florist to customize one. The base is made of branches of evergreen from fir, cedar, yew, holly, or rosemary pierced into a foam ring. It should have four candles symbolic of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, attached to the ring too. Colours of reverence include red, purple, pink and white.
Advent wreath making with Wonderland Botanicals
Traditionally created with evergreens, modern updates include flowers: roses of any colour and white lilies are examples of blooms that will contrast with the evergreens. While you’re at it, why not make a vertical hanging wreath for the door with blooms to match? Top everything off by decorating the rest of the house with vases of red roses or white lilies, as well as fragranced votives in lilac and pink.
Adds Yi Lian, “For wreaths, you will want to keep to drier elements, especially in our climate, if not, they may get mouldy while being hung. So dry elements such as cotton flowers, pine cones, cinnamon sticks and Christmas baubles are always good ideas. But fresh foliage such as eucalyptus dries very well and has a lovely scent so that will work well too.”
If you’re stumped for creative ideas, take a leaf out of Yi Lian’s process:
“I think what is truly essential for a creative to always be inspired is to, first, always be curious. A pervasive sense of curiosity will have you look at a seemingly ordinary plant on the sidewalk with new perspectives and it’s the new perspectives that give you inspirations, not the interesting art, buildings, places that you see. But the view you see them from.”
Quick guide to cool florists for stylish arrangements
Yi Lian Ng Floral Atelier: yilianng.com
Flower Addict: floweraddict.com
Floral Magic: floralmagic.com.sg
Bloom Room: bloomroom.sg
Wonderland Botanicals: wonderland.com.sg
The Floral Atelier: thefloralatelier.co
Elite Flora: elitefloragallery.com
Hello Flowers: helloflowers.sg
Keira Floral: keirafloral.com
Fiore Dorato: fioredorato.com.sg
Pretty Wild: prettywild.com.sg
Charlotte Puxley Flowers: charlottepuxleyflowers.com
Images courtesy of respective florists. Additional images by Curatedition.