How to Arrange Flowers for an Unexpected, Wild-Looking Table
Joshua Werber is best known for his fantastical floral headpieces: wearable creations fashioned from real botanicals. His designs have appeared in several fashion magazines — including in the pages of T — and on celebrities such as Rihanna.
Working mostly from a 150-square-foot room in a live-work space he shares with his small dog, Delilah, Werber (and sometimes a few assistants) will devote anywhere between 20 minutes to eight hours constructing a single headpiece. In the backyard below, Werber has a vibrant garden that includes acalypha, pennisetum and mustard, from which he constantly sources plants for his creations. Once a crown is complete, Werber will typically showcase the final result on Instagram, usually by modeling the piece himself.
“I’ve always loved gardening and plants. I’ve been gardening since I was in high school,” says the 36-year-old New York-native. Despite his early green thumb, Werber only transitioned from working in ceramic sculpture to floral design in the last decade, initially producing arrangements for settings and events. But in 2013, when “floral crowns were all the rage,” Werber says, he and another artist challenged themselves to an exercise of crafting one headpiece a week. Aside from amassing a visual portfolio of sorts on Instagram, Werber honed his hallmark sculptural finesse seen throughout the headpieces he assembles today. One commission quickly led to another, and now the bulk of Werber’s work comprises elaborate one-of-a-kind crowns.
Summer Entertaining, T asked Werber to create three decorative arrangements for the table using fruits and vegetables, herbs and weeds as each of the separate main components.
Create an Arrangement Using Fruits and Vegetables
Using sturdy branches of fruits — such as apple, blueberry and blackberry — as a foundation, Werber creates a lively arrangement that progresses from simple to exuberant as he adds in longer leek stems as well as cornflower and purple allium for dots of color. When it comes to your starting point — the arrangement’s base — consider a more creative and sustainable alternative to foam. “Foam is bad for the environment. It’s a petroleum product, it doesn’t decompose, it’s a microplastic, and the dust is bad to breathe in,” Werber says. Instead, reach for reusable materials, such as twigs or bunched-up chicken wire, or use a floral frog (a heavy metal base with spiky pins) to hold stems in place.
Create an Arrangement Using Herbs
As he demonstrates in the video above using herbs such as Juniper, airy stems of Valeriana and sprigs of rosemary, Werber recommends working with one material at a time, progressing from most to least dense or “what you have the most of, to what you have the least of.” This layering method allows you to build volume and evenly enhance the arrangement’s overall appearance as you move from a simple to a more elaborate composition.
Create an Arrangement Using Weeds
In this final video, Werber once again uses a layering method, this time focusing on color and height as defining visual elements. For inspiration, he looks no further than what’s right outside. “Think of your arrangement as a reflection of the landscape and use plants that relate to each other in nature,” he suggests.