How to do the flowers


Sixty years ago British society florist Constance Spry (1886-1960) used a whole range of kitchen and dinnerware for the flower arrangements presented in her concise guide How to do the flowers (1952). As Mrs. Spry was also principal of a cookery school, her choice of fish-pans, sauce-boats and cake-tins must have been abundant. Mrs. Spry however was also known for using bird cages, junk metal lamps, shells and other unusual containers for her flower arrangements. Like Constance Spry in her time, Dutch artist and designer Frank Bruggeman (1966) is in favour of using odd bits and pieces as containers for his ‘flowerpieces’ and ‘plantscapes’. He rarely sets out to buy an ordinarily recognized flower vase. Instead he uses challenging objects such as pile-driving caps, exhaust pipes, construction skips and lighting tripods. Whereas Mrs. Spry thought that containers should not become too overpowering, Frank Bruggeman believes that they can be equally attractive and overwhelming in shape, size and colour as the flower arrangements they held. Bruggeman wants a tense relationship between the two. Mrs. Spry firmly advocated flower arrangements that displayed “all the grace and freedom of Nature herself”. Bruggeman holds the same opinion, yet pushes this aesthetic principle to the limit in exploring the beauty and grace of dead plant material and flowers that are clearly past their prime. Bruggemans loose and playful compositions are however more than just decorative. Like gardening and landscape design, though on a very different scale, his flowerpieces and plantscapes are an adventurous balancing act between nature and culture.









Flowerpiece for COS magazine, April 2012