Above: Sunny Daze: An example of Zinsmeyer’s less-is-more mantra: In what was originally intended as a simple arrangement of hydrangeas, he reconsidered and added three sunflowers for powerful drama. It worked.
Photographs: Laurie Tomaszek
He makes it look so easy! Much like a chef in the kitchen or an artist before an easel, event florist and planner Gary Zinsmeyer, a Cornell-trained horticulturalist and educator, can whip up an elegant centerpiece filled with color, pop and whimsy in a matter of a minute or two. Of course he does; he is an expert after all. But Zinsmeyer is the first to say that the process need not be complicated or over-thought, and each one of us can create masterpieces using flowers from our own gardens. Just rely on what draws the eye, mix texture with height and use complementary color palates. That’s it.
Unconvinced? he smiles to this reaction and says: “Less is more, plus it gives you room to add drama and your own statement.” The best work, he continues, stems from experimentation, as one might take on in the kitchen or the studio. The end result may not be what was planned but a happy and delightful surprise nonetheless.
Gary speaks as his hands clip and arrange, revealing three gorgeous arrangements in no time that prove, and convince, that maybe the rest of us can actually pull something together (though it may take a little longer to do so).
Garden Party: Here, in perhaps the most quickly arranged centerpiece, Zinsmeyer blended some blue viburnum, green Pacific hybrid delphinium and yellow snapdragons. “Be sure to top it with water so all the stem bases are drinking,” he advises.
Pretty in Pink: This was Zinsmeyer’s first centerpiece. He began with dusty miller and quickly interspersed pink phlox and Queen Anne’s lace. He followed with tulips in orchid, the color of the season, and for drama added some statice. After a pause, he wove in a few stems of astilbe. He took a moment to reflect, and nodded as if thinking, “I’m done.”