Always use a fresh oasis (bacteria collect once used.) Put 3 blocks in a sink and let them soak up the water (when darker in colour, ready to use.) Lie 2 blocks flat with the 3rd sitting on top, at the back. Use floristry tape to hold in place, if needed.
The traditional shape for a pedestal is triangular, higher at the back. Start with the foliage to create the shape, using a variety with waxy, shiny leaves. Place 4 branches to give 4 points round the pedestal, the highest the central piece, Recut the stems and scrape ends of woody stems.
Arrange the flowers from the top, removing leaves from the stems (they will last much longer.) Push into the oasis by an inch. The longer flowers last on the bush, the longer they will in an arrangement. Good ones to use are, Dahlia, Aster, Budlia, Lily and Gerbera. Place a big flower in the middle, eg a lily (buy in bud) as the focal point and taller ones to the front. Use about 6 stems arranged around the lower half. Trim ones with multi-stems, and use in lower front. Use small bushes of eg chrysanthemum to fill in gaps. Put foliage in between flowers. Use contrasting colours. Gerbera’s give instant colour, grouped in 3s, 2 and 1 or 1 and 2.
Stand back often and take a good look to see what it looks like. Aim to make it look as the flowers would be in nature. When completed, give it more water. A spray bottle avoids spilling. Water about every 3 days, especially when it is warm.
It was a very informative evening. Many thanks to Warren.