Anatomy of a design….

 Cape Cod Seashore NP

Park Poster was a class in Explore America! at the Philadelphia Flower Show.  Each exhibitor was sent a poster donated by the Park Service as the inspiration for their entry.  With visions of Arches NP or something in Hawaii, I laughed out loud when I received the poster for my home state NP — Cape Cod National Seashore.


Park sketchesSmiles turned quickly to frustration when I tried to envision the design.  With a space on a platform 4″ H X 8′ W X 8′ D against a 10′ high wall, some monumentality was in order and I began to sketch out some ideas.

 Park sketch

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I seemed stuck between lollipops and barber poles.  I envisioned  a reference to slatted dune fencing and a lot of red roses with grasses.  The fencing online was expensive and didn’t really suit the purpose.  I thought of making it from bamboo, but that seemed to hard to do.  Bamboo is round and slippery

Park lighthouse contruction

Choosing an old IKEA plant stand as my underlying structure, I avoided the fence decision and got to work on an open willow construction as the focal point.  This was the fun part.  Using curly willow and dried kiwi vine, all joined by zip ties, I began to make a horizontal shape.  This part took quite awhile and looked awful before it came together – patience was key.

 Practice flowers

With some practice flowers: carnations, tulips, roses, Leucadendron, lily grass, I was able to test the size and the volume of the idea.

Park Practice

I heard Hitomi Gilliam’s advice to join each one in three places for a strong structure as I kept adding, especially at the bottom.  Some of the pieces were from other designs, already painted.  Once all the stem ends and  zipties were clipped, the whole piece was removed and sprayed red, very very red.

 choosing fence

It was fence time.  After too much time online, I decided to make the fence.  Choosing the pattern was the hardest.  These pine strips came from a cheap bundle at the hardware store.  It was cheap because only one out of three strips actually could actually be used.  My goal was to have the fence – QUIET – there but not there, so the flowers were the focus.  I painted it refrigerator white which was slightly different than the staging color.

blog Park Fence construction

The fence was made with aluminum wire, spaced vertically at 12″ intervals .  You can see the rough nature of the wood pieces.  The IKEA stand was triangular, so the fence was made in three sections to enable it to smush in (technical term), and even overlap at the back, to follow the tapered stand.  It also made it easier to change the construction when I changed my mind (too often).

blog Park Poster Third

 Lighthouse close up

Showtime!  At the show, the fence was adjusted in place on the (now white) IKEA stand (that smushing again).  The Oasis sat on the top level and the red willow construction was zip tied to the top of the stand.  I had gotten the vines quite dense hoping to weave the flowers through, but in the end, that defeated me as I couldn’t weave them and it was very dense.  The plant material used was white pine, roses, AnthuriumLeucadendron, lily and bear grasses and carnations.

 Park Third Comment

The entire class was in a previous post.  Third prize came with the comment ” Weak integration between floral design and beach fencing”.  It gave me pause because I spent so much time figuring out how to keep the fencing ‘quiet’ and I rather liked it as it was.  However a couple of days later, I had an idea of how it might have been changed, although I’m still not sure I’d do it.

Park Striped

What do YOU think?  Red stripe courtesy of a Sharpie.



About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
This entry was posted in floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements, flower show, Philadelphia Flower Show, vines, willow and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Anatomy of a design….

  1. Paula Coleman says:

    I thought the design wonderfully inventive as the fencing evoked dune stabilizing fencing and the floral materials at top created a convincing red beacon! Alas, floral design will always be very subjective! Thanks for sharing! I have especially loved these recent Philadelphia Flower Show posts.

  2. Sarah Ribeiro says:

    This is a fabulous and informative posting. Thank you so much

  3. Sally Worm says:

    Loved the design the way you did it. Maybe a little white at the top (representing the light from the lighthouse) would have satisfied the judges. Sally

    • Susan says:

      Sally – how wonderful to hear from you! We all seem to have a different theory as to what the judges meant! Cheers, Susan

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