Dutch Floral Displays

Take a cue from classic Dutch painters and create a floral display that's as captivating as an early-17th-century still life by Jacques de Gheyn or Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder. Tulips and ranunculus anchored many of their compositions, so we've paired those flowers with other blooms in autumnal oranges, purples, and reds. The insects are another nod to the old masters, who viewed them as symbols of transience.

Conical: A cone-shaped florist's foam facilitates this display. We left the back of our arrangement bare because it faces the wall; you will need additional flowers if yours will be seen from all sides.

Vase: Pastel tulips and color-saturated ranunculus set the tone for this luscious arrangement.

What You'll Need


  • Small urn
  • Glass vase
  • Assorted flowers
  • Pruning shears


  1. Soak cone overnight in water. Place in small urn. Divide assorted flowers into three sets. Cut stems of first set a few inches long. Distribute randomly up and down front of cone.

  2. Cut second set slightly longer than the first; add to cone. Repeat with third set. Stand back often to check that texture and color are balanced. Pin specimen insects to flowers if desired. Keep arrangement away from direct light and heat, and spray daily to prevent the blooms from drying out.

  3. Fill a footed glass vase two-thirds full with tepid water.

  4. Place flowers inside, cutting stems at front of vase shorter than those at rear. Establish a loose rhythm of colors and a balanced but asymmetrical shape. Place vibrant green leaves as accents.

  5. If you like, pin a butterfly on end of the striped bromeliad leaf. Keep display away from direct heat and sunlight, and change the water every other day.

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