Spring is somewhat of an elusive season here in Seattle. I remember my first March in this city, after moving from North Carolina, and wondering if it would ever warm up. We get days here and there that make you believe it might be happening, where the sun shines bright and the temps rise near 60 degrees for part of the day. And the flowers — the crocuses start pushing their cheery heads out of the ground in late February and trees start budding. My favorite part of PNW spring is that it’s also kumquat season. When I see these little citrus beauties pop up at the flower market, it really feels like spring just might be here. This month, Joanna and I decided that kumquats would be the perfect starting point for our springtime centerpiece. When mixed with flowering quince and three gorgeous pincushion protea, the resulting arrangement feels like a promise that winter is about to end.
- 2-3 branches of flowering quince
- 3 pincushion protea in red-orange and yellow
- 2 bunches (about 10-12 stems) of kumquats
- white compote vase
- floral shears
- garden shears (for the branches)
- 4-inch floral pin frog
For an arrangement with this much color, I wanted to keep things simple with the vase, so I used this white compote vase. I secured a 4-inch round flower pin frog in bottom of the vase. I find that a flower frog works well for projects like this where I really want to hold things in a specific place without necessarily creating a super full arrangement.
First, I placed the quince branches. I’ll be honest, they weren’t easy to secure into the flower frog. Don’t be hesitant to apply a lot of pressure. Depending on how secure your flower frog is in the base of your vase, you may need to apply counter pressure with a stick or other hard object to prevent the frog from sliding around while you are placing the quince. The main design principle to keep in mind when you are placing branches in an arrangement is shape. You don’t want two branches of the same length to stick out on each side of the arrangement (aka don’t make them look like antennae). Instead, try to create balance by having a branch on either side at different heights. I cut the branches to different lengths and placed one at a more vertical angle and the other at a slightly more horizontal angle. I used shorter portions of the branches that I removed to fill in the arrangement, too.
Next, I placed the two pincushion protea, strategically leaving room for the kumquats at the base and knowing I wanted the final yellow protea to really stand out. Because the protea is the largest and roundest flower in this arrangement, it automatically becomes the focal point. The eye will automatically be drawn to them, so create a nice shape with them and think about the negative space between them as well. It’s all about composition and visual tension!
Kumquats aren’t always the easiest to use in an arrangement because the fruits are so heavy. It’s a good idea to sort out which branches will stand up straighter versus the ones that are more weighted down. Once I did this, I began filling in the base with kumquat branches and I left a bit of space to place the vibrant yellow pincushion protea front and center at the end! Again, I tried to avoid symmetry and instead emphasized overall balance — all while making sure these little beauties really stood out.
The best part about this arrangement is just how big and full of color it is, yet it was so simple. Just three protea, two branches of quince, and a few bunches of kumquats. Using these principles of shape, focal points, and color, you could create something similar from the same or even different elements.
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