Artist Marcy Cook wearing a long Boho-style dress stands in front of her inspiration board in her studio

Artist Marcy Cook at home in Dallas

Marcy’s Inspiration

I based the how-to arrangement on my abstract floral piece titled Settle My Heavy Hands. Much of my inspiration comes from music and poets, like Mary Oliver, and irises are some of my favorite flowers. The blue-and-white container is incorporated throughout my collage work and was originally inspired by the old Dutch Master still life painting genre.

A garden arrangement in a rainbow of colors in front of a Marcy Cook floral painting of the same palette

ARTWORK: ‘Settle My Heavy Hands.’ Find step-by-step instructions for this arrangement at the end of this post.

painting and floral design by Marcy Cook

ARTWORK: ‘Southern Iris,’ 40″ x 48″, mixed media collage; sold.

Materials for Southern Iris:

  • Foraged ivy and wisteria
  • English garden roses
  • Pink ranunculus
  • Sweet peas
  • Irises
  • Tuberose
  • Feather tulips
painting and floral design by Marcy Cook

ARTWORK: ‘With Open Hands,’ 40″ x  48″, framed mixed media collage; inquire at Liz Lidgett Gallery.

Materials for With Open Hands:

  • Persimmons
  • Lemons
  • Foraged ivy and wisteria
  • English garden roses
  • Yellow ranunculus
  • Sweet peas
  • Irises
  • Tuberose
  • Feather tulips
  • Oakleaf hydrangeas
  • Pansies
  • Violets

Floral Tutorial with Marcy Cook

Blooms and foliage for Marcy Cook's floral design tutorial laid out on a table

Materials for Settle My Heavy Hands

  • Foraged ivy and wisteria
  • Lemons
  • Persimmons
  • David Austin ‘Queen of Sweden’ roses
  • Feather tulips
  • Irises
  • Sweet peas
  • Oxalis foliage
  • Violas
  • Pansies
  • Coral ranunculus
  • Yellow ‘Butterfly’ ranunculus

Step-by-Step Instructions

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March Cook, dressed in a deep brown button-up, creates a grid of floral tape over a blue-and-white bowl
1 | Create a grid over the container using floral tape, then add water.
creating a base with foraged foliage
2 | Fill the base of the bowl with a layer of foraged ivy and wisteria, which grows like a weed in my backyard. Let the leaves drape over the sides of the container.
staking lemons
3 | I love including fruit in my designs, but they are heavy, so first you need to stake them with floral picks to keep them in place. I used lemons and pomegranates for their soft yellow-to-green color variations.
Marcy Cook floral design tutorial step 4
4 | Put the staked fruit in the container. Vary the height, and place them in clusters to make them more prominent. This will help add depth and base texture as you move forward in the arrangement.
March Cook places stems of garden roses
5 | The largest flowers in the arrangement are the English garden roses. These bring a lot of texture and focus. Trim and place throughout the bowl.
step 6, add feather tulips
6 | Time for the feather tulips! I love the playful movement they offer. Trim and place them at varying, whimsical heights.
step 7, adding purple irises
7 | Time for my favorite flower—the iris! My great-great-aunt Mazie was an artist and painted a beautiful watercolor of irises that hangs in my bedroom. With smaller blooms like these, I like to cluster them along the arrangement at a diagonal.
step 8, adding texture with sweet peas and ranunculus
8 | Add small textures to the arrangement. I used fragrant sweet peas (another favorite flower) and rusty-red and yellow ranunculus. Keep the stems long, and let them playfully float throughout the container.
March Cook places a pansy to unite the palette
9 | For depth of color and to unite the palette, I added oxalis leaves, pansies, and violas. I think they are a happy surprise that offers a more nuanced and complex color story to the piece. Select varieties of pansies and violas at the nursery or wholesaler that have longer stems.
step 10, finishing touches
10 | For the final step, take more of the ivy used in the second step, and twist it into the arrangement, weaving it all throughout. This adds more depth, texture, and movement to the finished piece.
painting and floral design by Marcy Cook
Finished floral design with the painting Settle My Heavy Hands

Produced by Alice Welsh Doyle | Photography by Stephen Karlisch

Galleries representing Marcy Cook include Anne Irwin Fine Art, Atlanta, anneirwinfineart.com; Robert Lawrence Designs, Dallas, robertlawrencedesigns.com; and Liz Lidgett Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa, lizlidgett.com.