FORT WORTH, Texas - English fabric and wallpaper designer Tricia Guild - the "Queen of Color" in design circles - is renowned for her floral patterns. In her new book, Guild skips the fabric and wallpaper backgrounds and deals directly with the flowers.
"Flower Sense" (Rizzoli, $40) is bursting with brilliant blooms and lanky greenery, but nowhere in the book is there a tall glass vase filled with a mixed bouquet and centered on a table.
Design goddess Guild urges her readers to throw out rules - who says tall flowers need to be displayed in tall vases? - and display the bounty of the garden in unexpected ways.
Here are some arrangements she put together for "Flower Sense." But don't feel you need to imitate the specific arrangements; instead borrow the idea of free-form flower display and come up with your own creative ideas.
-We seldom think to bring them indoors, or, if we do, to mix them with other flowers. Guild places a tall bearded iris in a medium-height vase with a narrow neck and groups it with white flowers in shorter vases. The off-kilter arrangement of one tall bloom at the side could be unsettling to the eye, but the grouping is placed in front of a silver tray that is the same height as the iris and helps to unify.
-Guild likes to create arrangements with flowers of different heights and shapes that are unified by a color. For a purple/blue theme, mix alliums, purple irises, violets, delphiniums or droopy wisteria. Or mass together a variety of white flowers.
-Speaking of droopy, Guild sees no reason that displayed flowers always need to stand sentinel tall. She likes the languid look of a stem or branch that leans, especially when it's watching over a grouping of shorter posies.
-Peonies are Guild's favorite flower. Guild likes to take long-stemmed peonies and trim the stems down to 6 inches. She puts a half-dozen blooms in a low bowl with some greenery hanging over.
-And flowers don't even need to be in vases, she says. You can make a garland of carnations strung on thread or fishing line, she says. Or purchase rose petals - supermarkets often sell packets of them - and create a tassel by stacking the petals and running a thread through the centers. Hang the rose-petal tassel with a ribbon.
-If you're a traditionalist who just can't let go of pink roses, make your arrangement more contemporary by backing it up with a pink-striped frame.