Foraged Flower Arranging: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Stunning Arrangements from Local, Wild Plants

Foraged Flower Arranging: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Stunning Arrangements from Local, Wild Plants

by Rebekah Clark Moody


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Give Your Home That Special Touch With Fresh Wild Flowers

In Foraged Flower Arranging, floral designer Rebekah Clark Moody shares more than 40 new ways to use the natural beauty of your backyard or neighborhood to enhance and brighten any room in your home. Foraging for local, wild plants is easy and free, allowing you to avoid the expensive, corporate cut-flower industry. Plus, it gets you and your family outside exploring nature together. Use these tutorials to craft commonly found blooms, branches and greens into a gorgeous arrangement that will breathe fresh life into your home. Adorn an end table or bookshelf with a sweet springtime arrangement of blooming dogwood and forsythia. Grace your dining table with a centerpiece dancing with honeysuckle. Or enhance your entryway with a large, stunning display of colorful autumn leaves and wild roses.

The tutorials show how to create each arrangement step by step, along with tips and advice on how to make the arrangements your own, regardless of where you live and what’s available or not. With Foraged Flower Arranging you can have fun, inspire your creativity and wow your friends and family with gorgeous floral décor all year long.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624143649
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 04/11/2017
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 707,991
Product dimensions: 8.01(w) x 9.05(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Rebekah Clark Moody is a floral designer, artist and founder of the event and design company Forage & Fleur, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her floral arrangements are heavily inspired by the natural curves, shapes and aesthetics of nature. She has traveled around the world arranging flowers for clients and events, and her work has been featured in many publications and websites, including The Knot, Utterly Engaged and Style Me Pretty.

Read an Excerpt

Foraged Flower Arranging

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Stunning Arrangements from Local, Wild Plants

By Rebekah Clark Moody

Page Street Publishing Co.

Copyright © 2017 Rebekah Clark Moody
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62414-371-7


The Basics of Foraging and Floral Design

My interest in foraging started with my work in floral design. At first, it was a means to an end. Now it has become my passion. Foraging allows you to create unique arrangements, and it can inspire an innate sense of wonder whenever you go outside. There is unending beauty in the everyday landscapes that others take for granted. One cannot help but admire nature's gift on that particular day and what one might be able to create with it. When I first started foraging, I had a minimal knowledge about plants, but since then my knowledge has grown. Even though I have learned a lot there is always still more to learn. One of my favorite things in foraging is finding new types of botanicals that are unfamiliar to me. It always keeps me on my toes. There is never a dull moment in foraging!


We are lucky to live in a time when we can easily access all the necessities of life, but this has caused many of us to lose touch with the earth. We too often forget where things come from and when they naturally grow. There is something magical about being in tune with the growing patterns of a plant and being able to see how it changes over the course of a year. For example, a dogwood tree will start the year with bare branches. It is beautiful but austere. As temperatures start to rise, little blooms begin to pop open in magnificent splendor and are one of the most beautiful flowers nature gives us all year. As we enter into the warmer temperatures, the blooms die off, giving way to beautiful green foliage. As temperatures begin to cool, it produces beautiful multitoned autumnal foliage that can enhance almost any arrangement.

Plants are transient. They grow and change throughout the seasons. In those changes, with their elusiveness and limitations, we find beauty.

The most important lesson in foraging is to keep your eyes open. I cannot tell you how many times I have almost run my car off the road because I noticed something beautiful growing that I wanted to snip. I can often go to the same place on two different days and find a different selection of foliage and blooms. It is easy to get excited about the showy things, like flowers, but I implore you to look outside of that. Find beauty in the mundane. Find an interesting way to use something you typically think of as boring. It is always interesting to me how many people don't appreciate the plants that I cherish. They dislike them not because they are ugly, but maybe they are deciduous, maybe they are invasive or just maybe they are letting preconceived notions cloud their mind. There are no bad plants. Let me repeat that: there are no bad plants — except for the poisonous ones. Let's avoid those at all costs.

I've found that the best places to forage are abandoned properties and parking lots, as well as any overgrown spots along roads and trails. Look for areas where something is abundant and will not be missed if you take some. Make sure not to hack the plant. Try to cut in a place that will encourage regrowth, such as the main trunk of a branch, base of a branch or above a bud. Always ask for permission before cutting a plant in someone's yard. I have found people to be very amenable with items they have in abundance and have not been specifically curating.

In the summer, it is best to forage either early or late in the day when it is not too hot. The plants will hold up better if not cut during the heat of the day. Make sure to place your freshly cut plants in water as soon as possible. It is best to bring a bucket of water with you. Fill it with only 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) of water so there is not a mess to clean up later. Clean up your haul by cutting away any branches or leaves below the waterline; that way your water will stay clean, and whatever you have cut will last longer.

The best way to tell if something is hardy is to touch it. Hardier plants feel sturdy. Often the best indicator is whether the leaves feel tacky, since those typically do not last long once they're cut. A hardy plant feels a little waxy, not to the degree of a fake plant, but it feels firm. If something doesn't feel sturdy, cut it and test it out. Some things, like pokeweed, will shrivel up if not in water but can last for weeks when allowed to drink constantly. Sometimes I first pull a leaf off and see how it does outside of water. Hardiness can also vary depending on the time of year, varietal, climate and so forth. Be adventurous. It pays off in the foraging game. Living materials subject us to many constraints, but it is through those constraints that we can create unique pieces of art.


The main plants to avoid are poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. The rash and discomfort comes from skin contact with oils produced by these poisonous plants. The level of the reaction varies from person to person. I do not have a reaction when I touch poisonous plants, whereas my husband can be wearing gloves and still get an awful rash from them. Just because you don't react, and very few people are that lucky, doesn't mean you should interact with these plants. Still avoid them!


• Ground cover, low shrub or vine growing up trees

• Green leaves in three stem clusters with pointed tips that become yellow and red in the fall

• Produces yellow-green flowers that transition to white-colored berries in the summer


• Looks like oak leaves and grows as a shrub

• Often grows in clusters of three, but the clusters can also have five, seven or nine leaves

• Produces clusters of green, yellow or white berries


• Grows in swampy locations as a woody shrub

• Can have pairs of seven to thirteen leaves

• Leaves can be red, yellow and pink in the fall and produce cream or yellow berries


When creating an arrangement, there are many elements to keep in mind, most important are form, shape, line, color and texture. It is these elements that help form the principles of design, the arsenal of the designer. The great thing about designing floral arrangements is that there is truly no right or wrong way to do it. This book is designed to teach you how to create asymmetrical arrangements inspired by nature, but always keep in mind that you are the ultimate designer. Once you learn the rules and techniques, feel free to break them — all the best artists do!


Whether making an arrangement, creating a sculpture or painting on a canvas, there is a set of principles that artists follow, even if they're not aware of it. Even in nature, you will see a harmonious pattern to things that begs to be replicated. While these principles may seem initially abstract, they become clearer with time and practice. There are many principles in floral design, but the ones that are most applicable are balance and shape, movement, emphasis and unity.


Balance is one of the most important principles of design. It can include physical and visual weight, color and texture. When creating an asymmetrical arrangement, it is important to make sure that the arrangement is balanced on both sides while not replicating the design. It can be easier to create balance within an asymmetrical design when working in odd numbers, but this can also be achieved by creating clusters of certain ingredients, rather than using them evenly throughout the arrangement.

To create an asymmetrical design, think of an inverted triangle, with lines (actual or perceived) creating the points of the triangle. Rather than creating lines that are equally spaced within the triangle, I try to use my lines to create different angles and play with the traditional shape. In almost every arrangement I create, there will always be a high point and a low point, helping to perpetuate the idea of a triangle or tripod. Keep in mind the overall size of your vessel so that your tallest stem is not more than one and a half times the height of your vessel.


All living things must have movement, even if it is only implied. This is especially true in the world of floral designing. Movement can be achieved through lines and colors. Curved lines can actually be curved (like honeysuckle), but they can also be implied. Most floral pieces have a straight stem, so do not display them directly in a horizontal or vertical direction when trying to create movement. Instead, place stems diagonally to create an implied movement. This can also be created through the foliage on the stem or by using multiple pieces and layering to get the overall shape. Imagine creating a graceful gesture sweeping through the arrangement.

Color is a great way to introduce movement. When looking at an arrangement, our eyes wander over it, and we observe the different elements. Including a gradation of color will automatically help by creating varying spots of interest. A beautiful way to convey this is to start with lighter color tones and have a pop of color in a specific spot.


Movement can help emphasize the focal point, the crescendo. The showstopper flower or foliage that excited you the first time you saw it is the piece that needs to be showcased. Creating contrast among other elements in your arrangement can do this. Repetition of this showstopper piece leading toward the focal point is another great option.


It is important to create a state of harmony in an arrangement, otherwise it will appear incomplete. The eye must be able to settle and enjoy the floral piece. It needs to feel at ease. Sometimes having too much variety can be disruptive. The goal is to find completeness with no desire to change or add to the floral design. Often you will need to walk away from the arrangement and come back to it later. I will always find ways to continue to change or add to an arrangement, but taking a step back and revisiting it a little later often gives me a perspective that I did not have before, and then I am able to find unity.



Spring is such a special time of year! Nature begins to come out of dormancy, and the flowers and trees begin to bloom. Every day, a little more life and color come back into nature. By midspring, the world is in full bloom. Everywhere you look is covered in flowers, from the most delicate clematis to the ever-so-hardy azalea. Some of the flowers growing in your own backyard can be more beautiful than the most perfect peony, in my humble opinion. The deciduous foliage that has been absent is back and ready to be used. We begin the tutorials here because of the abundance that is available for all to forage, no matter your location.


These blooms are like tiny dancers; let them steal the show. They convey movement, unlike most flowers, and look lovely through every stage of their life. Placing the blooms anywhere with a breeze, even if it's just a vent, will help them come to life, and they will put on a show for you. The style of ikebana floral design is about creating with less and letting those stems speak. The tallest piece symbolizes heaven, the second is earth and the third is humanity.


1. When foraging Japanese magnolia, keep a few things in mind. First, make sure to cut pieces in varying states of growth, from the tightly closed buds all the way to the completely open blossoms. Second, cut more than you think you need because Japanese magnolia is very delicate, and the petals will fall off as you forage and arrange. While there is nothing out there quite like Japanese magnolia, dogwood or cherry blossoms are lovely arranged in an ikebana style.


2. Cut a single slit in the bottom of the stem to allow it to drink more water. It will also make it easier to put in the frog. Take some waterproof floral putty and adhere the frog to your oval bowl slightly off center.


3–4. The branches are delicate and have wonderful natural curves that create beautiful movement. Begin by placing the first two or three branches to create a triangle shape. Sometimes you can find pieces that split and naturally create the shape you are hoping to achieve, and it is magical. Once the overall shape is created, softly fill in by adding lower pieces, keeping in mind the original axis (shape) so you don't add them at an angle that will compete.


5. This is my favorite type of arrangement to have around my house. Even as it decays, it is beautiful, and I don't want to say goodbye. I like these kinds of arrangements in a highly visible place, such as on an entryway table or centerpiece in your home. Cover the frog and base of the branches with water. Replenish the water every few days.


Here in Georgia, dogwood blooms start to open in late March and are in full bloom by early April. It is a gorgeous sight and takes my breath away every year. They are so wonderful to use when arranging because they are delicate, have a beautiful shape and add interest to something that could otherwise be bland. The forsythia adds a nice contrast to the overall look and is a fun addition to this arrangement.


1. Find a base green; I used honeysuckle. Cut seven pieces of the honeysuckle. Cut three to five pieces of dogwood at different stages, some in full bloom and some with buds. The offshoots can be cut and used as smaller pieces in the arrangement. A colorful small bloom, like forsythia, will help add a little interest. Cut a few handfuls of the forsythia blossoms. Keep in mind the size of your urn and cut some pieces approximately twice its size so you have a little length to work with.


2. Cut the bottom of the stems and branches, and put them in clean water so they can drink prior to being arranged. The dogwood will need to be cut into smaller, more manageable pieces for the arrangement. A single cut up the center will help the stem drink more.

3. Fill a bucket with water and place the foam on top of the water. Be careful not to submerge the foam; just let it float and naturally and soak up the water. After the foam has sunk to the bottom and darkened, use a knife to cut it to size and place it in the urn.


4–5. Take the honeysuckle, and start with three pieces to create a triangle shape. Continue to build out the shape.

6. Use the budded dogwood branches next, taking the shape out a little farther. Add small groupings (around three to five blooms) of dogwood throughout the arrangement. To finish, add a few pops of colorful forsythia blossoms.


7. This arrangement looks great as a statement piece, despite its size. Cut dogwood does not last very long, so it is best for this arrangement to be enjoyed as much as possible. Top the foam off with water every few days.


One of the most inspiring things about early spring is the delicateness of the blooms just when they start to open. Very little interrupts the softness and color coming to the stern branches. This arrangement is inspired by the subtleness of nature when things are starting to flourish. This arrangement will make you feel like a fine artist, allowing you to focus on the small details and let them shine.


1. Find a selection of blooming branches. I used 'Forest Pansy' redbud, which actually has purple-hued blooms despite the name. Also, look for a green vine to complement the branches. Honeysuckle is what I used, but jasmine or another vine would also look great. To do this arrangement, only three stems of each piece are required, but gather a few extras to have options when selecting. The longest piece should be no longer than 3 feet (91.5 cm).


2. Adhere the floral frog to the compote bowl. I suggest using super glue, but waterproof putty is a great choice for a less permanent option. Once the frog is secure, fill the bowl with a light covering of water, touching the top of the frog.

3. Trim your branches to the desired height. When working with a frog, it is sometimes helpful to cut a slit on the bottom of the branch so the pins can hold it more securely. It also helps the branch absorb more water.

Make sure to have three segments. In the ikebana style of floral arranging, the overall height can vary. Typically the tallest is one and a half times the size of the bowl, in this case the compote, and represents heaven. The second piece is three-fourths the size of the first and represents Earth. The final piece is three-fourths the size of the second and represents humanity. While I did not measure and adhere to these exact sizes, it is good to keep this guideline in mind while designing your arrangement.


4–5. First, add three pieces of the honeysuckle. Pick pieces that have a lot of shape and movement. Arrange them in an upside-down tripod or triangle, one going diagonally to the left, one diagonally and slightly toward the back on the right and one diagonally and slightly toward the front on the right, each piece being slightly shorter than the last. Mirror this technique with three redbuds while weaving through the honeysuckle, creating a natural look.

6. If the frog is still visible, use a few small pieces of honeysuckle to cover it up.


Excerpted from Foraged Flower Arranging by Rebekah Clark Moody. Copyright © 2017 Rebekah Clark Moody. Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 7

The Basics of Foraging and Floral Design 9

Lessons in Foraging 10

Elements of Design 12

Spring 15

Japanese Magnolia Ikebana Arrangement 17

An Ode to Dogwood: Simple Dogwood and Forsythia Arrangement 21

Blooming Branch and Honeysuckle Arrangement, Ikebana Style 25

Large Blooming Urn Arrangement 29

An Ode to Dogwood: In Good Company 33

Light and Airy Arrangement 37

Chinese Fringe Arrangement 41

Soft Spring Arrangement 45

An Ode to Dogwood: The Loner 49

Small Closter of Bud Vases 51

An Ode to Dogwood: Pretty in Pink 55

Simple Magnolia Arrangement 59

Summer 63

Smoke Bush Arrangement 65

Ethereal Honeysuckle Arrangement 67

In Good Company: Woodland Ferns 71

Petite Wildflower Arrangement 75

Pokeweed with Crape Myrtle Blossoms 79

Wildflower Arrangement 83

Summer Grasses 87

Trumpet Vine Arrangement 91

Wild Grasses in a Pitcher 93

Wild Berry Arrangement 95

Simple Pokeweed Arrangement 99

Petite Ceramic Vases Arrangement 103

In Good Company: Greenery Steals the Show 105

In Good Company: Herbs 109

Lush Wooden Platter Arrangement 113

Ornamental Oregano Half Wreath 117

Fall 121

Golden Ember Arrangement 123

Large-Scale Autumnal Arrangement 127

Golden Rain Arrangement 131

Maple Leaf Arrangement 135

Sweet Maple Branch Arrangement 137

Myrtle and Viburnum Berry Arrangement 141

Greenery and Grasses Arrangement 145

Chinese Fringe Arrangement with Berries 149

Winter 153

In Good Company: Winter Greens Arrangement 155

Holly and Ivy Arrangement with Pops of Camellia 159

Simple Holly Arrangement 163

Winter Greens Ikebana Arrangement 165

Elaeagnus Installation 169

Small Camellia Arrangement 173

In Good Company: Winter Greens Holiday Wreath 177

Winter Honeysuckle Arrangement 181

A Horticultural Guide for Beginners 183

Tips for Creating Your Own Foraging Garden 184

Guide to the USDA Plant Zones 185

Supplies and Tools 186

Acknowledgments 188

About the Author 188

Index 189

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