See this post in full with photographs and more at my blog:http://spiderflower.blogspot.com/2011/01/branching-out-floral-vase-arrangement.html
I thought the easiest and most effective project to start with would be a vase arrangement with lots of help from branches I picked up from around our back yard - after a really windy weekend! Small branches and twigs help space out and hold the flower design. You can fiddle and tweak as much as you like and they will stay in place without having to start over again if you're not quite satisfied with the look. I've used quite a lot of them for this arrangement.The flower 'recipe' for this arrangment is:*10 mini pink rose sprays
*12 soft lime roses
*10 pixi (pom-pom) carnations
*5 stems of Brunei nut*Medium-large size glass vase with a fairly wide mouth
*Various twigs and branches (try to pick ones with interesting lines and forks)
When you bring your flowers in from the markets or garden, pop them straight in a bucket of water and get all your sundries ready. You will need scissors - my kids have taken every pair of florists scissors I've owned which is why I have a manky pair of old scissors for this. Secateurs might come in handy for the branches and twigs if they are too hard to snap and a leaf/thorn stripper (the bright yellow thing in the picture) is great for stripping roses. If you don't have one just pick the leaves off the stems with your fingers, being mindful of thorns. The stems are stripped pretty bare - this will keep your flowers fresh for longer. You'll need to strip over half the leaves from your foilage to keep the water clean.
Try to hold the base of the rose when preparing, arranging and tweaking as the petals bruise easily and if you're not careful, they will end up covered with brown marks (I found this out the hard way when I first started!) Just before you place each flower in the vase cut the base on an angle at the desired length so they have more surface area for drinking water.
In the vase is a mix of heavy duty twigs for holding the design and soft floaty willowy twigs for aesthetics. Fill the vase less than three quarters full and start with the heavier Brunei nuts or alternative foilage you've chosen (this could be camelia branches or any bush with a leaf you like the look of), then you can start adding in your flowers. You can hang some of the flowers on twig joints to give more height to the arrangement and try to keep in mind that three/five (odd numbers) of the same flower together ususally look better.
At the back of the vase I have inserted quite chuncky sticks to strengthen the height and form at the rear of the arrangement. Naturally this arrangement will stay with its back against a wall for display. As such, you can get away with a lot less flowers as it a frontal display. This is an especially good way of arranging if you want to splurge on some more exotic bloooms for your flower design.
When you've chosen where you are going to display your arrangement, carefully top up the water from the side or back of the vase.
I think the most important thing about floristry is to give it a go - if you're not sure about what you've created take the flowers out of your vase and start again. Although this is a fairly classic arrangement, anything goes in floral design these days. As long as you have the basic preparation techniques, consider it an art form and let your creativity loose!