Floral design artist Al Dellinger keeps a pair of garden clippers in his car at all times. He’s not afraid to pull off of the busiest streets to pluck a colorful bittersweet vine or a cheerful cluster of nandina berries.
Dellinger was the guest at a joint meeting of the Covington, Conyers, Social Circle, Satsuki and Mansfield Garden Clubs Monday at the Newton County Library.
He currently works designing and coordinating floral arrangements for occasions ranging from weddings to dinner parties. Before he created his online business in 1999, he owned a retail shop. Eventually, he came to realize he loved flora and hated retail. Today he has a different feeling about his work.
"I love my job and I love everything about it," Dellinger said. "I focus only on flowers and that is what my love is."
At the meeting Dellinger used themed items brought by members of each club to create several floral arrangements. He stressed the importance of improvisation and not adhering to rules when arranging. Themes were Asian, Southwestern, Southern silver meets English Garden and Oceanview.
Dellinger said he preferred tablescapes rather than standalone centerpieces, so he designed arrangements that would work together in close proximity to one another.
"When you’re doing thematics it’s so wonderful to pull all the elements once you’ve chosen your food," Dellinger said.
Dellinger said he prefers opulent arrangements, but Asian-inspired motifs place emphasis on balance and minimalism.
His Asian arrangements—ichibana—featured lichened branches thrusting outward from the center and isolated flowers. porcelain vases, dragon figurines, a small Geisha statue, a wooden Buddha head and brightly colored silk-like fabric accented the arrangements.
Southwestern arrangements made by Dellinger had a heavy natural focus and rambling composition compared to the Asian pieces.
Clay and wooden containers held the botanica. Apples, fallen antlers, bittersweet vine and hornet’s nest added focal points to the boldly colored arrangements.
"My theory is," Dellinger said, "if it’s finished, add more to it."
Southern silver/English garden
Brightly polished silver pieces-- some stacked for height-- lent an air of an afternoon tea to Dellinger’s most traditional pieces.
"I usually start from the inside and work my way out because I want a nice weight for the focal point," Dellinger said.
Again, fruit accented the variety of vibrant Southern flowers in these arrangements. Dellinger advised the audience to dip a pick or stem fruit in oil of clove and then pierce the fruit to prevent it from browning.
Dellinger said beach-themed arrangements took the least amount of skill because they should be more free-flowing to match the "nature" the shore.
Elements in the ocean arrangement included driftwood, sea oats, shells and a small wooden figurine of a pelican. Ribbon stemming from the piece created an illusion of flowing water.
Dellinger concluded his demonstration by challenging garden club members to make an arrangement from only what they found in their yard and their home and not to adhere to specific floral arranging tenets they have heard before.
"I feel that we all have that choice that we can go to our garden and to our cupboard and we can step outside that box and create something in our own home," Dellinger said. "Your imagination is your only limit."
To see more of Dellinger’s work, visit his professional Web site at www.2000adinc.com.