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Period Arrangement Styles

Style: Williamsburg Origin: United States

Truly an American design style, famed in the Williamsburg prints. The containers should be traditional styles of the period. They do not have to be antique but fidelity to the period should be maintained. Colors should maintain fidelity to the period also: reds, pinks, blues and shades of lavender. Orange and yellow were not common and should be used sparingly, if at all. Colors of the same color and mass should be evenly distributed so that the arrangement gives the same appearance from every side. Both light and dark colors must be present. An easy way to accomplish the distribution is to divide the flowers by three or four, and distribute them (North, East, South and West). Higher in the design, multiples of three are placed (to allow for taper) and to give an all over the same look. The mass design is finished with the use of baby’s breath, artemesia, feverfew or pearly everlasting. Trim or prune the filler to achieve a uniform shape.

Mechanics: floral foam (e.g., OasisTM) Note: Before this modern technology, this type design was done in the hand, turning as you go, then the stems were trimmed and the whole thing placed in the container.

Style: Biedermeier Origin: Germany

This style used flowers not for their individual form or color, but for their massed color and form impact. Plant materials are placed to create continuous ribbons of color in layers around a solid form. Typically, more than one kind of flower will be used to provide contrast in form and color the more the better. There is freedom in choice of color and in the container style. Probably, the main consideration will be in finding a container which repeats the roundness an essential of this style. Little foliage is used. A basket may also be used.

Mechanics: a large block of floral foam is carved in an egg shape, anchored, and reinforced with wire.

Style: Epergne arrangement Origin: France, then England and the United States

The design style is done in an epergne, which may be glass, crystal, silver or ceramic.

Originally, the containers were used for flowers in the top portions and fruit and nuts in the bottom section(s). This type of design was very appropriate for the dining table or buffet. The containers are often large and come in a wide array of colors. Sheffield produced them in England in silver. As natural gas was discovered in the United States, high quality art glass was produced in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Indiana. These were the elegant pieces of the Victorian era. After 1900, production included milk glass and colored glass.

Mechanics: in the flutes, florist wire. In the base, a special holding device (cornet holder).

Style: Byzantine Empire Origin: Southeast Europe and Southwest Asia

This style requires that the container have bold colors, giving an appearance of richness and elegance. (The example provided used a container from Leningrad, USSR.) The flowers should repeat the bold, almost clashing colors and forms of the container. There should be relative simplicity in the design but with strength fully present in the color and style.

Mechanics: floral foam contained in a shield to protect the enamelware container.

Style: Monochromatic Mass Origin: Europe and United States

A monochromatic color scheme allows for the use of one color (hue), but tints, tones and shades of that one color may be used. In the design, different forms may be used as well. The impact of this design, where so much of one color is used, creates a certain elegance. When an accessory is used, the design should be strengthened by the accessory, but the accessory should not become the feature. The floral components should still be the featured interest in the design, and in a rose show, the roses should be the dominant floral interest.

Mechanics: floral foam, secured to the container with clear florist tape.

Style: Contemporary (Modern) Mass Origin: United States

The container sets the tone for the designer to be innovative. The container can be unusual, but should be simple in detail. The design should have good proportion – height and depth – with blooms dispersed well over the design and colors coordinated with the container. Open spaces, unusual foliage and contrived material (wired, treated, or painted) may be added to give the design originality. Unexpected materials give this type of design a freshness.

Colors are very significant. Mechanics: floral foam.


Per the ARS Guidelines for Judging Rose Arrangements, arrangements from preceding eras of history are classed as period arrangements. The characteristics of these arrangements reflected the life styles, social customs, religious and political thoughts of their time. Occasionally, period arrangements are included in a show to commemorate an historical event or era. It is difficult to judge these arrangements by today’s standards, as yesterdays accepted standards have changed and the components are often unavailable or are difficult to duplicate authentically. If period arrangements are to be included in a show schedule, the class descriptions should be prefaced by such terms as in the manner of, influenced by, in the spirit of, or adapted from.

This article first appeared in the 3Q96 Rose Arrangers Bulletin, an official quarterly publication of the American Rose Society.

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