How to create a winter flower arrangement: by Philippa Craddock

Philippa Craddock’s winter floral arrangements are renowned for their deconstructed beauty. The famed florist works with clients around the world, including Vogue, BAFTA, Christian Dior and the Victoria & Albert Museum, and created the cascading floral archways, ornate facade and interior of St George’s Chapel in Windsor, to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Below, Philippa shows us how to create her favorite winter floral arrangement, using the best winter flowers.

How to make a winter flower arrangement

Saucepan with water

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

To make this winter floral arrangement, Philippa suggests:

‘I used a small compote bowl (15cm in diameter) and a Kenzan (a reusable mechanic that supports and holds your rods in place). You can find both from various online retailers.

“I used a selection of late winter flowers including hellebores, narcissus and buttercups, along with a few forage stems including dried grasses, ferns and small branches with dried leaves.”

1. Place your first architectural rods in the bowl

Plant in a pot

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

Place in your compote and add water. The Kenzan Clamp Holder will fully support your rods, holding them firmly and gently straight, in whatever position you choose. When adding the stems to the vase, hold them almost like a pencil, with your hand towards the end of the stem – this gives you better control and helps prevent the stem from breaking.

2. Create the basic shape


(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

Select two initial stems to form the basic shape – placing them along a line, with different heights. Small branches (like I used), flowers and greenery are often great options for those early stems, it can also be a flower with a strong stem and shape. The first two rods give you shape to your base frame, this helps you position subsequent rods, to create a design with movement and interest.

3. Add your focal rods


(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

Your main flowers are your focal flowers, in this design these include the hellebores, followed by the buttercups. Add these rods first to continue creating the shape of your design.

4. Place the filler and end rods

potted flowers

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

The next step is to add your filler rods. The narcissus here are used as filler flowers, adding texture and depth to the design.

I prefer designs where the lip of the vase is interrupted, with flower heads placed so that they fall naturally over the edge. By interrupting the vase line, the vase and flowers become one larger design, rather than two individual components. Select naturally “drooping” flower heads – in this design, narcissi and hellebores are great options.

What flowers go in a winter arrangement?

I love winter designs with subtle warmth. The tawny tone of the buttercups and hellebores works beautifully in adding warmth to the design’s predominantly white and green palette. Delicate details of grass, ferns and branches gently enhance the warm browns of the design.

The combination of the different stems brings such great depth to the design. I like the full petals of the hellebores, against the lace like backgrounds of ferns and the columns of miniature catkins.

How to maintain a winter floral arrangement?

The design will last indoors for several days. Just keep the water level up – you’ll find that with the large number of flowers and the relatively small bowl, the design will need to be refilled once a day.

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Terisa K. Carn