With snow storm after snow storm, I have been feeling less than peppy. Nothing like 3 plus feet of snow outside to make you want to hibernate till spring...
|The trees in our back yard|
What better way to "think spring" than fresh flowers?!
I love how flowers can brighten your day, cheer up a room, and over all just add a subtle, yet beautiful statement in a room. Over the next few months I am going to try and add more flowers and arrangements around the house. Lucky for me my Dad has one green thumb! I asked him to give us all some tips on arrangements so once you spend the money on the flowers you can help make them last and look their very best! :) Here he is...
Flower arranging isn’t that difficult but there are some simple rules and tools that make the project a success. First the tools.
Over the years I have collected various tools/supplies, actually bits and pieces from projects people have asked me to design. I just keep a box handy and at some point these pieces have a purpose. To arrange with fresh flowers the best tools will be a pair of pruners, some wire cutters, a sharp pocket knife and good pair of scissors. There are plenty of other tools that might come in handy depending on the arrangement materials. For example if you are going to set out a vase of cuts from a spring flowering shrub, then you would need a hammer to smash the cut end of the branch so that it will soak up water more rapidly and extend the life of the blossoming branch. But for table-top arranging the tools mentioned will be enough.
Now for the rules. First, the height of the arrangement should be about one and one-half the height of the container you are putting the flowers into and second, always try to use an odd number of flowers. That’s it. Now for the other rule that probably needs to be mentioned; the above rules can and should be broken from time to time.
Alright you’ve selected the container for the arrangement, give it a good wash with hot soapy water; kills any moldy residue left over from the last arrangement. Set it aside for the moment. Go and collect a set of flowers from your garden, grocery store or farmers market. Look the flowers over, just don’t grab something, study the leaves for a moment ; are they limp (flaccid to be technical) or do they hold their shape. Also look at the flower petals, particularly the tips and edges. Does the color of the flower extend to the edge or have they started to wilt/brown. Fresh material extends the life of the arrangement.
Now take the container and fill it with cold water. Put a splash of bleach into the water; the-rule-of-thumb is 1tsp. bleach to one gallon of water, adjust your splash accordingly.
The bleach acts as a flower freshener, extending their lives. Unwrap your flowers, you should have a selection of flowers along with a selection of greenery. The greenery is used for filler, a background for the color of the flowers. Re-cut the flowers and the greenery about 2” from the store cut and make a sharp angle cut instead of a square cut on the stems. The angle cut exposes more of the water conducting tissue in the stem. Immediately after they are cut place them in a holding container filled with cold water. You will work the flowers/greenery out of this container and into your arrangement.
Arranging the flowers is now directed by your choice of container. It is also directed by how your arrangement is to be used. For example if you are creating a centerpiece for the dinner table; the arrangement should be low and relatively long. There is nothing worse than having to talk through an arrangement to the guest on the other side. Another consideration is that dinner table arrangements should probably not be made from extremely fragrant flowers, you want your guest to smell the food not eat the arrangement. If your arrangement is going on a hallway table, it can be one-sided, etc.
I usually start the arrangement by placing the greenery into the container. These greens act to stabilize the placement of the flowers. So determine the height of your arrangement, make the cut and stick the first piece of greenery or filler material in. Work the balance of the greenery into the rough shape of your arrangement. Tall and skinny, long and flat, round, oval; have some fun. Next work in your large flowers with some sort of symmetry that lends balance but not stiffness. I don’t really know how to explain this but after a few arrangements, you’ll get the feel for it. In a vase setting generally the larger flowers fall at the base of the arrangement with smaller flowers climbing up out of the vase. Perhaps the best advice I can give is to go to a florist shop and study the pre-made arrangements and practice....don’t be discouraged be creative. In times past I have used the green tops of carrots as filler, whatever works.
Finally there is an excellent book by Rebecca Cole, ‘Flower Power, Fresh Fabulous Arrangements’, it would be worth adding to you book collection.
Thanks so much Dad! I never would have thought to add bleach to help flowers last! I hope you guys have a great weekend and don't forget to pick up some fresh flowers while you are out about! :)