Winter Branch Ikebana with Design by Terrain


From blooming tulip magnolia and salmon quince to vivid yellow dogwood, branches are back to brighten the winter home. When the first magnolia blossoms emerged, we asked designers Matt M. and Katie B. of Design by Terrain how they would use our favorite fresh branches in their work. They created the striking and spare arrangement above, inspired by the Japanese art of ikebana.

Matt and Katie told us, "In this arrangement, we wanted to take a different approach to form and vessel, drawing inspiration from the ikebana style of floral design. Ikebana is back in a big way this year; developed in Japan, the style is defined by its appreciation of simplicity. Negative space is key, helping to highlight subtle elements like the veins of individual leaves. This style of arranging also emphasizes the creation of different lengths and layers throughout. Ikebana arrangements really showcase what each element is doing, which makes them perfect for displaying things like branches that have a distinctive shape. Every piece of the arrangement feels extra-special because the overall style is so pared down."

"Blooming magnolia branches are the foundation for our display, which also includes begonia leaves, ranunculus, cyclamen, dried ferns, and dried miscanthus. A wire frog inside the bowl offers support for each stem, and helps to create the overall shape of the arrangement. When placed in the frog, a stem leans the way it would naturally grow; particularly for winter branches that have an unexpected structure, this creates a lot of organic movement. We love that this arrangement showcases the beautiful arch of the branches. We were also mindful of contrast throughout, pairing fresh and dried elements, or large leaves and wispy grasses.

"For this time of year, a branch-centered arrangement is a fresh way to bring natural elements indoors. The spare design also makes it last longer; you can easily pluck out elements as they fade, which might be tough in a fuller bouquet. But we sometimes like to leave the elements as they age, finding a different kind of beauty in a fading flower."

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