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How to: Sustainable Mechanics for an Urn Arrangement

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

January : Urn Arrangement

The following urn arrangement is a perfect for sitting on a hall table in your home, or could be scaled up to be used in church flower arranging. Using fully reusable mechanics and all English grown ingredients follow our step by step below to recreate this at home.

Kit required:

· Small Urn, or a bowl would work just as well.

· Kenzan (pin holder)

· Secateurs

· Chicken Wire


· 3 x Twigs with lichen or Catkins or Pussy Willow

· Evergreen foliage such as ivy, pittosporum, camellia, cotoneaster, skimmia, heather

· 20 x narcissus

· 10 x tulips

· 3 x alstroemerias

Conditioning tips:

It is really important to condition your flowers and foliage well, before attempting any arrangement.

· Remove any damaged leaves from your foliage, recut stems and place in a bucket of water overnight to hydrate.

· Cut approx. 1 cm from your narcissus stems and place in their own bucket of water overnight. Narcissus have a glutinous sap which makes other flowers go over more quickly in the vase. Allowing them to condition overnight lets this sap drain out.

· Wrap tulips in newspaper to keep upright while conditioning. Cut 1 cm off the bottom of the stem and place in water overnight.

· Keep stems in a cool, dark (but not freezing!) place overnight. A utility room or downstairs toilet is often a good location.

Guide for arranging:

1. Ensure your vessel is clean & watertight, if not add a container securely within.

2. Place Kenzan at the bottom of vessel.

3. Take a piece of chicken wire about 4 times the size of your vessel and loosely make this into a ball shape.

4. Push chicken wire into your vessel so it fits securely. There should be two different layers of chicken wire that your stems will be passing through.

5. Fill the vessel with clean water.

6. We have designed this as a front facing arrangement to be placed on a hall table or sideboard.

7. Select 3 sculptural twigs to give your outline shape of the arrangement. Ensure these are different heights and in different planes – effectively creating an uneven triangle. Ensure the stems are clear of any lumps or bumps and remove any leaves that are going to be below the water line.

8. Use an evergreen foliage to follow a similar shape but with slightly shorter stems to begin filling in the gaps.

9. Select another foliage to weave through the same outline – adding more texture and interest.

10. Add your tulips, as your focal flower these are the ones you want to take centre stage. Ensure they are varying heights and facing slightly different directions.

11. Add your narcissus, these tend to work well in clusters rather than dotted throughout – as they would naturally appear in your garden.

12. If you are adding alstroemerias add these in last.

Stand back and admire your creation!

Remember that tulips continue to grow in the vase - they will naturally dance their way towards the light, which adds wonderful movement to your display. Occasionally we get asked how to prevent this happening - our answer always is - don't! The life and movement tulips have are part of their charm and we love them for it. If you find they get too leggy for your arrangement, just snip an inch or two off the stems after a few days.

Top Tip:

It can be difficult to change the water in these types of arrangements. To keep the water fresh, take the urn to your sink and run water into it until the water is overflowing. Allow the water to run for a minute or so - this will help to refresh the water and prevent bacteria build up. Just make sure you dry the urn well if you are putting it back on a precious piece of furniture.

We won't go into too much detail here about why floral foam is less than desirable, but if you are interested in reading more, the Sustainable Floristry Network has written a comprehensive article. The main problems with floral foam are:

  • It is a single use plastic

  • It breaks down into microplastics which enter our water system and food chain

  • It never biodegrades or decomposes - every single piece of floral foam that has ever been used in now sitting in landfill or within our oceans.

There are so many easy tips and tricks that we use every day in our floristry which mean we have never used a piece of floral foam within Featherstone's and we are looking forward to sharing more of these.

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