Living Flowers

Shades of Constance Spry

This design is a twist on a classic mantlepiece swag using an ivory mantle vase. These vases were the epitome of style in the ’40s and ’50s but went out of fashion at the end of the 20th century. Luckily our new fascination with arranging without floral foam has brought them right back into vogue again.


  • Selection of long-lasting foliage such as Eucalyptus gunnii for an aroma, Pittosporum tobira ‘Variegatum’ and Salvia rosmarinus (rosemary)
  • Eustoma (lisianthus) ‘Double Cream’
  • Rosa ‘Avalanche’
  • Other roses of choice


  • 30cm-wide, 5cm-gauge chicken wire
  • Mantle vase – this one is 28cm wide and 13cm tall
  • Piece of fairly sturdy jute rope, long enough for the length you want your swag, adding a little extra to allow for it going up and over the vase
  • Reel wire

TIPS To have a really full swag, you can wire each of your bunches of foliage with a double leg wire using stub wires, which will allow you to manipulate the foliage a little.

Remember to think about how you place your flowers if you are positioning your design high up. Keep getting down from your working position to check how it will look from ground level.

Constance Spry loved roses, but she also used cabbages and a wide range of foraged plant material such as Ammi (Queen Anne’s lace). Use whatever you have available to create your own look.

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