YES, You can do this…
First of all, back up. Prepare yourself for making an arrangement as you and all your guests and loved ones will enjoy from all angles. Being well prepared looks like this:
• Glass of wine (or two)
• Gardening shears
• Flower vessel (vase)
• Clear work space (prepared to get messy, that’s part of the fun of making your own bouquets!)
So now what???? You get your flowers. I’m lucky enough to have teamed up with Flower Bombers in Denver, and they provided me the most beautiful stems EVER! So spoiled! I learned almost all of my flower care and design skills from a fabulous workshop Flower Bombers offered in November. Spending a Saturday sipping champagne + tasty treats and being taught by a hugely creative team of flower designers using only the most beautiful blooms! What a dream! I cannot wait until the next workshop!
Instead of simply dropping them in a vase, take your blooms to new levels with these flower designer secrets.
Where are you getting your flowers? A supermarket? Flower market? Farmers market? Pick from your own garden?
Don’t buy on the wrong day. Most flower vendors I know get their flowers in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Get to know your local flower store and find out when the fresh blooms will be arriving. Get to know the clerk who stocks the flowers at your local supermarket or corner store. They can tell you the exact delivery days and if you slip them a tip or kindly insist on buying them a latte you’ll begin to establish a great relationship with them and they are going to give you the best of what they have to offer and they will like you!!
Aside from wilted petals (you can peel those gently off revealing the glorious unseen petals beneath,) an easy way to determine a bouquet’s freshness is to look at the bottom of the stems. Just as with asparagus, you should see white and green fibers in the center. Any brown or mushiness means the flowers have been sitting in stale water for a few days. Also, gently squeeze the bloom especially with roses. If it’s soft, the bloom is old and won’t last long. If it is firm it certainly has much more life left and has not yet begun to peak.
Encourage these shy buds to open up!
Choosing flowers that haven’t bloomed yet means you’ll be able to enjoy them for longer, but it can take some varieties (like the hybrid tea rose, the class most commonly found in grocery stores) up to six days to fully open.
While putting flowers in a sunny window will speed up the process, I recently learned an amazing trick from the incredible Frances, the owner of Premastyle… simply blow straight into the center of the rose and it truly helps open up the blossom without injuring any petals!
You know to cut about an inch off the bottom of each stem when you get a bouquet home and immediately put into water. We are talking within 30-60 seconds. But to REALLY extend the shelf life of your arrangement, each day following, recut about a quarter of an inch off the stems and change (not just top off) the water.
For me personally that’s a bit much. To maintain the health and life of my flowers when beginning an arrangement I thoroughly wash the vase. I trim all the leaves and excess greenery cleared of all leaves. Every other day I put the bouquet in the sink and run water through cleansing the stems and freshening the water. The bacteria that develops if the flowers are left unattended are what is going to destroy your beautiful blooms. I’ve heard many tips on what to do with the water to help feed the blooms. I’ve even heard of adding a splash of bleach to the water, which I have tried and it was effective in keeping icky bacteria away. Although I almost always stick to my method of fresh water, clean stems and clean flower vessel.
Choosing which flowers to arrange?
Find a bloom that you love the color of and then build your arrangement around that tone. Think about complementary but opposing colors like yellow and purple or blue and white for a bold and contrasting arrangement or for a more muted and subtle look, pick blooms that are all similar in shade with light graduating variations. For example, if you have a beautiful peach rose, find a paler pink flower and a soft apricot bloom to transition the eye gently from color to color.
Choosing a the perfect vase or vessel for your arrangement!
If you’ve chosen a vessel with a very wide mouth, I recommend creating a grid with floral tape, (scotch tape will work just fine if you have that on hand.) The grid will help your flowers stand strong versus flopping lazily to the sides. Be sure to tape around the whole perimeter of the vase to secure your grid during the designing process.
Next you want to fill that grid with your base greenery. Think ruscus, camellia leaves, pittosporum and my fave Italian ruscus… among many other things. This is the foundation of your bouquet and is very important. The way you will arrange your greenery creates the shape and style of the entire arrangement. This is a great opportunity to venture out into your backyard with shears or stroll through your neighborhood looking for seasonal greens. You will be amazed by what you can find, and the depth and life that these foraged items bring to your arrangement. No kidding, I keep a pair of shears in my car (especially during lilac season…shhhhh!) The natural beauty of a longer, organically shaped maple tree branch, willow tree stems or even beautiful pieces of pine or cedar will bring so much love to the arrangement.
Twenty peony stems could break the bank depending on the season, but three can look just as stunning when surrounded by a thick collar of green. This comes back to building your foundation with greenery and place bigger-faced flowers (like garden roses or dahlias) in the center. Grocery store throw in their signature baby’s breath to make bouquets look bigger—but also cheapen the effect of your flowers. Pull those suckers out and add fresh mint or bay leaves from the produce aisle. Source, source, source…twigs, ivy or wild ferns are more examples of what can be found in your backyard. Voilà c’est magnifique!!