It’s time to start creating a weekly bouquet of garden flowers to enjoy. This week I chose the wisteria and iris that are beginning to bloom in my garden. Both of these spring blooming flowers are great for arrangements, and with their substantial stems are easy to use. Remove any leaves that will be below the water line. Cut stems at an angle, and if you’re really ambitious cut straight up the bottom of your wisteria stem to allow more water to be drawn up. It’s best to choose iris buds ready to unfurl. If you cut these stems underwater they will last even longer. An added bonus is the spectacular fragrance of both these flowers. Astonish yourself and create your own springtime bouquet!
Creating a large bouquet for special occasions (Hint – Mother’s Day is coming!) can be easy, if you choose the right flowers. I used hydrangeas and roses for this simple-to-assemble bouquet. You will need a large vase, 10 – 12 inches tall, for this arrangement. Remove all foliage from the stems that will fall below the water line. Fill the vase with water 3/4 full. Add flower food if your flowers come with a free packet.
Place your hydrangea stems in the vase first. These are heavy duty stems with beautiful leaves. Hydrangeas are temperamental. I didn’t do anything to condition mine and the blooms on one of them wilted overnight. A good way to condition hydrangeas is to burn the end with a candle. This seals the milky sap inside. A spray of water on the petals is also a good idea. I found an excellent in-depth post on how to condition these stems. If you are going to make the bouquet and use hydrangeas please check out this article first. Hydrangeas in the House-Tips for Making them Last!
The stems of the hydrangeas are strong. I used four and criss-crossed them within the vase to form a grid to hold the roses.
White roses are the next addition. They come packaged in packs of 12, but I used only eight in this arrangement. (I used the others for some corsages…the story of these will be told later in the week.) You could use any tall-standing flowers in place of the roses: lilies, carnations, spray roses, alstromeria, Dutch iris, etc. Cut all stems at an angle to allow them to draw up as much water as possible. Place the roses into arrangement within the criss-cross of the hydrangea stems. There you have it, an easy and beautiful bouquet for any special occasion.
White miniature Roses, Baby’s Breath, light green Mini-Carnations and Hypericum Berries are usually available in the floral department of many grocers.
This combination, in the neutral colors I’ve chosen, or in any pretty color combination, make a fast and easy bouquet.
Quick Tip: The outer petals of roses are often browned or damaged. You will do no harm to the rose if you gently peel these petals away. Cut all flower stems on an angle to keep the bottoms from resting flush against the vase, this allows more water to flow through the stem.
A tall narrow vase works best for this arrangement. Cut the mini-carnations a few inches taller than the vase. Insert them into the water like the spokes on wheel.
Add the rose stems next, cut most of these double the height of the vase, with one or two an inch or two taller. The bottom stems of the carnation, will help hold the roses in place.
Fill in with some Hypercium Berries and Baby’s Breath. There you have it, the transformation of a few bunches of flowers into a bouquet that can rival anything you purchase in a floral shop.
While beginning the task of preparing my yard for winter, I came upon a sweet violet blooming out of season. I picked the small flower, and gathered some miniature zinnias and white alyssum still growing in the garden. Placed in a small juice glass, the flower heads just below the rim, it’s a sweet bouquet to place on a table or windowsill for a splash of color. I enjoy the way the sun glowing through the facets of the glass throws a shine of sunbeams beneath the flowers.
My summertime flowers are still going strong. Though a few have bloomed their last, in many instances they have left behind beautiful pods and seed heads. I used several of these in two summertime bouquets for my table.
Here’s a close-up view of several of the pods in my bouquets. Flowers used in the bouquets: white hydrangeas, sunflowers, zinnias, rose, rudbeckia, bee balm, and blue perennial lobelia.
Lance-leaved coreopsis is blooming this week in my wildflower garden. The plants are loaded with dozens of flowers, providing the perfect opportunity for creating a tabletop bouquet.
The stems of Coreopsis lanceolata (Lance-leaved Coreopsis) are gangly, and quickly droop upon cutting. To use them for an indoor bouquet requires breaking the traditional rules of floral arranging. Instead of placing foliage sprigs beneath the flowers, place the blooms around the rim of your vase, allowing the foliage to take center stage. The vase supports the weight of the flowers forming a circle of gold around the bright green foliage. Beautiful! A lovely informal bouquet for your kitchen table.
I’ve added a new widget to my blog sidebar – “Garden Bouquet.” I thought it would be fun to display an ever-changing bouquet of what is blooming at any given time. Right now, daisies are having their “hey-day” in my flower beds. This bouquet features Echinacea, a Gerbera, and a few Black-eyed Susans. I’ve also added a stem of Four O’Clock, Violet leaves, Vinca vines, and some sprigs of Lavender and Verbena bonariensis.
By the way, after I succumbed to the big writing “no-no” of using a cliche , I wondered where the phrase “hey-day” originated. According to English Language and Usage “hey-day” has its origins here:
Hey·day [hey-dey] noun
1. The stage or period of greatest vigor, strength, success, etc.; prime: the heyday of the vaudeville stars.
2. Archaic . high spirits.
I love iris plants. I enjoy cutting each of the varieties I grow for beautiful vased arrangements in the house. Even the buds on an iris flower stalk are fascinating. Beginning as tightly furled points, they gradually open into rounded balloon shapes before bursting into a blossom that resembles a floral cathedral. I love to peer into the inner recesses of an iris flower. There is a sense of the spiritual for me as I gaze at the detail created by God. The light filtering through the outer petals into the inner chamber of the flower cannot be duplicated by anything manmade.
An iris is an easy flower to use in a floral arrangement. Cut near the base of the plant to remove the stalk. Unopened buds, just beginning to unfurl are the best choices for cutting. Recut to the length you want, trimming the stem on an angle, place in room temperature water. Iris can be combined with other flowers in floral arrangements. In the first photograph I have combined purple iris with yellow lamium. The iris will last for several days. When the first few blossoms wither, pull or cut away from the stem. The lower buds will then begin to open.
My grandson picked these dandelions while walking around the block with his grandfather. He brought them to me and we found the perfect vase…a dixie cup, the best spot for dandelions plucked away from their stem. He was so excited over the flowers he walked around the block again, this time with me to show me where they grew. He stopped and bent down to exclaim over each yellow flower, “They are beautiful Nanny, aren’t they?”
Yes, oh yes, they are beautiful my Derek. I remember loving dandelions as a child and blowing their fluffy tops into the air with a wish. I hope I remember this small dixie cup of sunshine and the walk with my grandson forever.
Black-eyed Susan with Vitex (Chastetree) Foliage
Although I have created many complicated bouquets with a wide variety of flowers, I still think the simplicity of one type of flower with some beautiful foliage is the most stunning of all arrangements. Likewise, my favorite verses in the Bible are often simple and to the point and oh so easy to understand.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV) John 14:6
Blue Hydrangea Bouquet
Pink Hydrangea Bouquuet
Last week someone dear gave me this amazing handmade “frog.” Frogs are pins mounted on a stable base. They are used to keep the stems of flowers and foliage in place. Floral frogs can be very plain, spectacular, or handmade by an artisan. My floral frog was purchased in Amish country, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Frogs are perfect for creating Ikebana. I have used mine to display some crabapple stems that are on the verge of blooming.
Here are the crabapple stems blossoming. O Happy Day!
Martha Stewart has a great online article on how to use floral frogs. You can find it here: Martha Stewart – How to Use Floral Frogs
I put together this floral arrangement a few days before Easter. It contains only one bunch of alstromeria, some pussy willow branches, some curly willow branches and a few pieces of beautiful foliage. It is lovely, and I have enjoyed it very much. Even better…it is still going strong, and the curly willow branches have leafed out.
Willow twigs will readily root in water or loose soil. I have used branches as trellises and had them regrow once more as they gave support to the vines. I might try to grow these and plant the resulting bushes in a back corner of the yard.
Alstromeria is one of the best flowers for long-lasting arrangements. I wonder how long I can keep this beautiful display alive.
Floral Tip: Remove the bottom leaves of the alstromeria stem. These leaves yellow and die long before the flowers are finished blooming. Your arrangement will last almost a week longer if these leaves are removed.
Spray roses in every shade imaginable are available now. I don’t mind spending a few dollars on spray roses. Because they dry into everlastings with ease, you don’t feel you have wasted your money when their peak freshness has passed.
I have had spray roses begin to dry even while they are still in a vase of water. Pink roses are my favorite color for drying, although yellow, peach and even some deeper toned roses work well too. White and red roses are tricky to dry. White can brown around the edges and red roses usually turn a near black hue when dried.
To dry the spray roses I firmly twist a large rubber band around the bottom of the stems, and slide the band over the hook of a coat hanger of any kind. The elastic will tighten if the flower stems shrink during drying, keeping the bunch intact.
I place this hanger in a dark closet and wait a week or two. When the flower petals feel crisp they are finished and can be used in crafts of all kinds. Dried spray roses are great for Valentine’s Day crafts.
Alstroemeria is one of my favorite flowers for floral arrangements. The blossoms are available in an astonishing array of colors and are very long-lasting. The flowers look at home in both casual and formal arrangements. Alstroemeria blooms outlive the leaves that are on their stems. I usually remove all the lower leaves and add hardier foliage to the arrangement I am making. When I purchase these flowers, usually at a bargain price from the local grocer, I always look for petals that are slightly closed. They will open in a day or two and should last for at least two weeks.
Alstroemeria is native to South America. You can find some facts and history here: Facts about Alstroemeria
Recently, I removed spent roses from my Christmas centerpiece and replaced them with alstroemeria. The arrangement lasted an extra week. When the pine needles began to drop, I took the alstroemeria out of the oasis, rinsed it, cut the stems an inch or two on the diagonal, and now will enjoy the fully open blooms as a vased arrangement. You can’t beat the beauty or the economy of alstroemeria.
Tip: If you are allergic to latex do not arrange alstroemeria without using protective gloves.
Local supermarkets are a terrific source of fresh flowers. Roses are often sold by the dozen in their display cases. To be assured of freshness, look for petals that are still buds, furled in a graceful urn shape. Gently squeeze the rose petals above the calyx; they should have a sense of firmness, and not feel too smooshy. Check to be sure the petal edges do not have a curled or brown tinge. If the roses are fully blown open, limp, or if the rose buds have the look of a pointy bullet, buy your flowers somewhere else. The fully open flowers will only last a day or two before dropping their petals, the limp buds will promptly droop and die, and the tight, pointy buds will never open correctly. Remember: look for a firm urn-shaped bud.
When you arrive home with your roses, recut the bottom of the stems at an angle. This technique keeps the stem from adhering to the bottom of the vase and forming a seal that might keep water from wicking up the stem. All purchased flowers benefit from being re-cut at an angle. To give your roses even longer life, fill a bowl with water before you cut the stem and cut about an inch off under water. This keeps an air bubble from forming in the stem, further insuring a rose with long life.
The roses in the arrangement above were bought at my local grocery store. They were cut and arranged in floral oasis on Sunday afternoon. I took the picture above this morning (Thursday) the roses are still lovely after five days in a 70 degree home.
Creating a Christmas or winter arrangement is easy. Fill a vase or container with water or oasis, add a mass of fir greens and insert your roses or other flowers. Remember different levels of height add interest to the arrangement. You don’t want all the flowers at the same level as if they are numbers on a clock, place a few high, a few low, and some in between. A few catkins or other “wild” looking, frondy pieces of foliage or twigs give a look of the natural to the arrangement and are a resting place for the eye. Most of all have fun and enjoy your creation and the beautiful flowers.
Catkins and twigs in the photograph above are from a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick bush.
I enjoyed creating this Christmas wreath for my dining room wall. The colors are not traditionally Christmas, but they perfectly match the decor in the room. There are so many beautiful Christmas silks on the market now; I had a hard time making a choice.
A hot glue gun is the perfect tool for crafting wreaths. The silk flowers, after you cut away most of the stems with wire cutters, are very light and easy to attach with just a drop or two of glue in the recesses of the grapevine wreath. The Christmas ornaments are even easier, add a little glue to the top hanger and hide that portion within the leaves or wreath.
Special tip: If you don’t have wire cutters, raid your husband or boyfriend’s tool box. Many cutting or stripping tools have an additional area below the blades that are made for cutting wire. I can never seem to keep track of my wire cutters and these are a perfect stand-in tool.
I had a second crop of lilies bloom in the last few weeks. They are very long-stemmed, some nearing almost four feet in height. We’ve been having some violent and windy storms so I cut most of the stems and brought them indoors to enjoy. When I came downstairs the morning after bringing the flowers in the fragrance had become so strong I almost couldn’t breathe. It filled each room with a scent that was good, but almost wasn’t…does that make any sense? If you have ever smelled Stargazer Lilies it will make perfect sense to you. The fragrance was sweet, but was also over the top, and suddenly began to smell like a room filled with stinky gym socks. My solution was to place the vase of lilies on the porch where they could emit their fragrance without overpowering my sense of smell. The solution was perfect. I could still enjoy and smell the lilies without feeling overpowered.
Floral Arranging Tip: The anthers of lilies are notorious for staining clothing. Most floral arrangers remove the anthers. Conservatories such as Longwood Gardens also remove the anthers to keep the orangish-brown pollen from staining the clothes of visitors. If all these precautions fail and you do get anther pollen on your clothing, instead of rubbing it, which will only set the stain deep into the fabric, use a pipe cleaner bent like a paper clip and gently tease the excess pollen onto the chenille of the pipe cleaner. It won’t remove all the pollen, but it will save the stain from being as noticeable.