Date: February 28, 2023 | Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Photography: Rett Peek |
Vase & Vine’s Gina Taverner on how to use bunches of the same type of flower to make a statement in fresh arrangements for the home
There’s a sense of warmth to Vase & Vine, the Clarksville shop owned by florist Gina Taverner. That’s because the cottage housing this unique business is equal parts Gina’s floral studio and her home. “It’s nice because I can come in here and start supper if we’re slow, or I make casseroles and soups for lunch for everyone every once in a while,” she says. “My employees feel at home here, too.”
Gina bought the business, then called Clarksville Florist, in 2005. Thirteen years later, she rebranded to Vase & Vine and focused the shop’s offerings more toward wedding design. The small team takes on weddings from Little Rock to Northwest Arkansas and everywhere in between, making their location in the River Valley a convenient midway point.
But in addition to the more intricately designed bouquets and installations of their wedding clients, Gina loves the look of grouping a single type of flower in interesting vases around the house. “For the home, I think it gives a uniform statement that looks really upscale and expensive, but can be from your local grocery store or florist,” she says. “You just get a bunch, usually 10-12 stems, of one type and drop it in your vase. And depending on the vessel you use, it can really change the look.”
Read on for Gina’s advice on making effortless statements for everyday enjoyment using different types of vases, blooms, and branches—the perfect primer for any floral-arranging beginner.
Summer Johnson (left) and Gina Taverner in Gina’s kitchen at Vase & Vine.
Factions of Flowers
1. Line Flowers
Any flower with smaller blossoms growing along the stem in a linear fashion is a line flower. These often provide the broad outline or shape of a mixed arrangement. Snapdragons, delphinium, larkspur, and bells of Ireland are all line flowers.
2. Focal Flowers
Also referred to as form flowers, focal flowers are those with distinct, attractive shapes that provide visual weight in a mixed arrangement. Roses, lilies, peonies, dahlias, protea, and even tulips are considered focal flowers.
3. Filler Flowers
Don’t be fooled by the name—filler flowers are anything but forgettable. Consisting of clusters of small flowers, these often function like greenery as an accent, but can also be striking on their own. Popular examples include baby’s breath, chamomile, Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, and waxflower.
Make It Modern
Fill dark ceramic and stoneware vases with a bunch or two of a single type of flower for a contemporary take on floral arranging. Here, Gina used four of her focal and filler flower favorites across clay vessels. While their shapes and sizes vary, each has a narrow mouth, which has the dual benefit of supporting stems and allowing you to make a big impact with fewer of them. Pro Tip: Can’t find the perfect vase? Don’t be afraid to DIY! Two of these vases are ones Gina thrifted then gave a coat of black paint (mixing in mud for texture) to lend them the earthy appeal she wanted.
Arrangements from left to right:
1 A bunch of astrantia creates a round shape that mimics its container. “We use this a lot in bridal bouquets for texture, but I love using it like this too,” Gina says, noting this particular plant has a long vase life. Astrantia often comes in white, blush pink, and a moody purple. “Caspia, waxflower, or a greenery like dusty miller would look pretty here, too.”
2 Verdant hydrangeas, typically thought of as a more traditional bloom, take on a modern feel in a dark handled vase. “The limelight and oakleaf varieties dry really well, so you can keep them preserved,” Gina says. “You can’t go wrong with hydrangeas; they’re the easiest to design.”
3 Ranunculus is a small flower that packs a powerful visual punch. “The smaller the mouth of the vase, the better for these,” she says, noting the stems “tend to droop.” For this flower, be sure not to overwater. “They don’t like a whole lot of moisture because it makes their stems mushy. Probably just an inch or two of water is enough.”
4 Filler flowers like genestra seem to blur the line between floral and greenery, creating an organic, spriglike shape. “Waxflower or baby’s breath would work well here too. We just criss-cross the stems, first one way then the other, to help create this shape,” Gina says.
Hold it Together
Like ranunculus, anemone is a smaller focal flower that makes a statement as a bunch, especially with the airy composition they create in this wide, textured clay pot. Without the tighter mouth of a vase to contain the stems, Gina used a ball of curly willow in the base to provide support. “We use curly willow and chicken wire because it’s more sustainable than flower foam, but it’s also good for someone who is learning,” Gina says. “You can take your stems in and out and move them easier than you can when you’re creating holes in foam.” In clear vases, the curly willow creates added appeal below the water line. Pro Tip: Gina recommends using a lazy Susan while arranging for easy access to all sides of your vase.
Reach for Roses
While Gina’s personal style currently leans more organic modern, she’s always on the lookout for vintage vases. Here, ‘White Majolica’ spray roses, pink ‘Quicksand’ roses, and lavender ‘Amnesia’ roses are timeless in a collection of glazed and milk glass containers. Roses might have a reputation for more formal or romantic affairs, but Gina encourages people to use them to elevate an everyday look around the house. “They’re very versatile,” she says.
Turn to your own backyard when bringing the outdoors in. For this dramatic display, Gina used three branches of a saucer magnolia accented with greenery from an eleagnus bush; she recommends clipping from a Southern magnolia, redbud, forsythia, or any other blooming tree for a similar look. “I would love this on a big, long dining room table or even sitting right on your fireplace,” she says. To create the look, make sure your vessel is heavy enough to support the weight of the branches.
NEXT LEVEL LOOKS
While Gina prefers the single-flower look for decorating in her own home, clients of Vase & Vine often desire more intricately designed arrangements for their weddings and loved ones. Here, Gina and Summer each designed an arrangement in a low compote to show their two go-to styles: organic and modern.
Vase and Vine’s organic arrangements have the look of a mixed bouquet possibly pulled straight from the garden, featuring a variety of colorful flowers with greenery mixed in. This one incorporates delphinium, ‘David Austin’ roses, ranunculus, anemones, snapdragons, narcissus, genestra, stock, and veronica as well as olive branches.
While their modern style has a similar shape, it incorporates many more blooms in a monochromatic scale of colors, such as the scabiosa, snapdragons, tulips, roses, ranunculus, genestra, and burgundy amaranthus seen here.
Illustrations by Bailey Dougan