Biedermeier Flower Arranging: a Tutorial

As a lover of flowers and a seasoned traveller, I have admired my fair share of stunning floral arrangements.  But it was  in a restaurant a few miles from home, that a floral display stopped me dead in my tracks.  I was on my way to the powder room when I paused to admire a flower arrangement created on a cake platter that looked, well, like a cake!

image image

Nonchalantly I tried to figure out how it had been made. I thought the flowers had to have been set in some sort of shaped oasis.  After a more than reasonable time fixated in front of this beauty, I thought it best to get moving.  On my way back from the powder room,  I couldn’t help myself.  I returned to the flower arrangement and slipped a finger into the flowers to see what was holding them in place….and got caught, literally with my finger in the flower~cake!  A woman who identified herself as the manager inquired if she could be of assistance.  How embarassing!  By then, my girlfriends had come looking for me as I’d been gone for such a long time!  We explained we were passionate about flowers and were from a local garden club.  The manager, Terri Dow, had actually been the floral artist and she began explaining that this beautiful creation was a Biedermeier floral arranging style and the flowers were held in wet sand.  WET SAND?!!!  We were blown away and promptly invited Terri to teach us a class in this art.

Biedermeier flower arranging is considered a floral design where the flowers are arranged in a pavé technique, in compact and  concentric rings of alternating colors.  The arrangements are usually rounded or conical.  Each ring contains one type of flower which contrast with the ring adjacent to it usually in color, form and texture to create interest in the design and to showcase each flower.  This style of arranging is suitable to low bowls, cake stands and footed  compotes.

Biedermeier floral arranging originated in Austria and Germany during the post war years of 1815-1848 and is associated with the famous furniture style of this era.

19th Century Beidermeier chest of drawers(google images)

19th Century Biedermeier chest of drawers(Google images)

Modern arrangements can depart from the traditional Biedermeier technique in arranging the flowers in spiral or linear patterns.  Berries, small fruit or even small objects such as Easter eggs might even be introduced.  What remains consistent is the linear, dense arranging in one color per row.  I invite you to search for Biedermeier flower arranging on Google images or on Pinterest to be blown away by countless examples of this fun floral art.  Here are a few of my favorites!


Pinned by  No concentric rings of one color here but a pavé style of flowers in a very modern design.


Lemon Lime Topiary Pinned by Lynne Thompson


Pedestal table arrangement pinned by Lynne Thompson


Succulent topiary pinned by Lynne Thompson

Beidermeier dress form arrangment by

Biedermeier dress form by MY FAVORITE!

Join my garden club in a class in Biedermeier floral design. Learning how to design with wet mounded sand was exciting!   Not all Biedermeier is done on sand but the technique I will demonstrate uses a sand base.  The sand is the sandbox stuff you can get at the hardware store.  It should be new sand to prevent bacterial growth and all used sand discarded after each arrangement is dismantled.  Using sand instead of oasis is a really economical way to create shaped arrangements.  It is also far easier to work with than shaping oasis to the form you are seeking.


My finished design


Start shaping a mound of dry sand with your hands, on top of your chosen vessel, here a cake stand.

Once you have the desired shape, create a volcano well on the top of your sand. You will now pour the water in this well until the sand is well saturated.

Once you have the desired shape, create a volcano well on the top of your sand. You will now pour the water in this well until the sand is well saturated, but not slopping wet.  The well will be filled with sand before you begin arranging flowers.


Once your sand is wet, you can modify the shape, such as making it taller,  as we are doing here, and pour on more dry sand.  Wet the additional sand.


Once you are satisfied with the shape, start arranging your flowers. Cut each stem very short, about 2-3 inches long. Just place them in the wet sand in your chosen design, remembering to set the flowers close together. You want to achieve a very dense covering of flowers.


To guide your design, it is important to create a line through the middle of  your arrangment and set a row of the flowers you will be using,  as shown above. This will help you visualize the rows of flowers and keep your design aligned precisely.  Start with the top flowers and work towards the base.  Once you have determined your design, you can work from the bottom up in arranging each row of flowers.


An evolving design.  The design can be tweaked as you work.  Nothing is etched in stone here!  I had started with astromeria in my center and switched them out for hypericum berries later on.


A darling finished design


Another lovely creation


Note the concentric rings of flowers. This design features small bits of foliage inserted here and there to give a looser feel to the finished arrangement.


My creation seen from above.

image Choose flowers with similar life spans and your arrangement will look great for up to 2 weeks.  Every 4 days or so, add a bit of water to keep the sand wet.  You can do this by simply pouring water in the top of your arrangement as you would to water a plant.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about Biedermeier floral design as much as I did.  Get in touch with your inner child and play in the sand again! Thank you to Terri Dow and The Ship Inn  for hosting The Scattered Seeds Garden Club.

28 thoughts on “Biedermeier Flower Arranging: a Tutorial

  1. I love the Beidermeier I made! I thought this was going to be a very difficult project and found it to be well within my comfort zone. Your step-by-step directions are very well written…I will definitely make another one sometime! My arrangement is now 2 weeks old and some of the pink carnations need to go…I may make repairs by replacing just that one ring of flowers.

  2. Absolutely stunning Johanne. Loved going through all the different arrangements, so strikingly beautiful! Off to Longwood next week with a couple of girlfriends, I hear the orchids are putting on a gorgeous display right now.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Loretta! Longwoods will be the operfect antidote to this freezing weather! Are you going to the Flower Show? I saw previews today. Am going next week. I am looking forward to going to Chanticleer with you someitme this spring:)))

      Sent from my iPad


  3. omg Johanne, this is too fabulous! How lucky to be caught red “fingered” by the floral designer herself and then get her to teach you! I can’t wait to try this, thank you so much! Your creations are gorgeous!

  4. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #57 | The Novice Gardener

  5. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #57 | The Novice Gardener

  6. I loved hearing about how you got “caught!” I have never heard of this type of arrangement,although now i think I have seen it here and there, but I’ll recognize it in the future. It sounds so much fun I’ll have to remember it next summer! Summer is coming isn’t it? Sometime…?

    • I think we’ve all seen versions of Beidermeier design but didn’t know it had a name! Sping is coming, spring is coming, spring is coming!!!!! Heading to Philly’s big Flower Show this week and that’ll help. Then spring break next week. Really need it this year! Keep warm!

      Sent from my iPad


  7. Your design was lovely. The beidermeier style is very versitile and you did a great job of showing a variety of applications for the style. congratulations on a job well done.

  8. Pingback: Top 10 Reader Favorites of 2015 | French Gardener Dishes

  9. Pingback: A Fall Biedermeier Flower Centerpiece | French Gardener Dishes

  10. Pingback: Biedermeier Flower Arranging: A Tutorial with Fall Flowers | French Gardener Dishes

  11. I am wondering about the succulent topiary… normally, succulent plants are not supposed to be kept wet or damp due to root rot. So, how often does the sand need to be re-wet? Do you think that it would be better to use some kind of bonding agent in the sand to get it to stay in such a tall, upright position?? I have seen some like the one pictured but it was a foam mold with sphagnum attached to it. The succulents were simply glued onto the moss.
    If you were to make a succulent arrangement, how would you go about it? Thanks!

  12. Hi. I have not used succulents with the sand. I would recommend you keep the sand just slightly moist as you would with any other succulent arrangements as moisture is not their friend. That being said, the sand mound would collapse if it was allowed to dry out completely. iIt is meant for arrangements that last 1-2 weeks. You could then transfer them to a regular planter. I have worked with succulents glued right on a hard surface (a bracelet) and they last up to a month without water! So depending what your needs are, that might be the route to go, arranging them in a Biedermeier style but not on sand. Hope this helps. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.