For the last few years I have taught flower arranging and wreath making classes as a creative side hustle.
I have realized that at this moment in time we are living in a DIY culture - from HGTV to Instagram and Pinterest the millennials definitely like to do it themselves. This generation likes to make their own beer, grow their own food, they have an interest in crafts in general.
Flower arranging is one of those incredibly useful tools to put in your hostess bag of tricks. If you’re like me, you can’t resist picking up a bouquet of flowers every time you go to Trader Joe’s or Wholefoods. And what do most people do with them when they get them home? They go right from the paper or plastic they were wrapped in, directly into the same boring vase. Believe me, there are basic bouquets and then there are flower arrangements.
I am going to give you some tricks and some knowledge to take your flowers to the next level. I will teach you the basics of picking your flowers, arranging your flowers and preserving your flowers. Your arrangements will be Instagram worthy. You will want to hold a dinner party so that you can make the centerpiece. Your Thanksgiving and Christmas table will never be the same again and your garden-grown blooms, will have that rustic straight from the country look that is so in right now.
The first step is to pick your flowers and vase. I prefer a low, white cylinder vase. The height is perfect for most tables and white will hide your stems. You should have a few different types flowers for your arrangement: your green filler; your showstopper; your color flower and some textural elements.
Step two is to tic-tac-tow your vase. Add a grid by using floral tape or even in a pinch, Scotch tape works. This will structure your stems. You can now start by adding your green filler as a base.
You are now ready for the fun part ~ adding all the pretty flowers!! Cut your stems short and at an angle so the stems will soak up more water. Put your flowers directly into you vase as soon as you cut your stems so they do not scab over. Add your roses, showstoppers (hydrangeas, peonies, etc.) and then at the very end, add your texture elements to fill in the spaces.
Celebrate the beauty of big flowers. There is something so beautiful about the big showy flower. Think hydrangeas, peony, spider mums. They look very dramatic bundled together in small low vases. It celebrates their grandeur but doesn’t overpower the piece. For example, creating an arrangement of hydrangeas in a small round vase will give an effect that is polished, sophisticated and elegant – something perfect for a garden party. Also, you get more bang for your buck with a few big flowers in an arrangement. Your arrangement will look fuller and more put together.
Long stems will follow the shape of their vessel. They can be very modern and chic. For example, calla lilies, gladiolas or how about a stem of orchids with some branches – something with height is perfect for a buffet table.
Mix it up. Play with texture, create balance and harmony by putting dense flowers with more airy plants. For example – dahlias and baby’s breath might look really interesting together.
Monochrome can be really cool. Creating an arrangement with different flowers of all the same or similar color will capture attention and is a great conversation piece. As people study the bouquet, they will be curious about the different types of flowers all in the same color range.
Flowers are not just for vases or vessels. A real trend right now is rustic. A really pretty cake topper or decoration for a simply white cake is flowers. I like to bundle my stems, cut them really short and then cover the stems with saran wrap so as to not harm the cake or cake flavor in any way. If I add the stems directly to the cake I also make sure that the stems are covered with saran wrap just to make sure to not damage the cake or harm the flavor.
You don’t need a vase. Use unexpected containers. Try mugs, tin cans, mason jars and even pumpkins.
Make a smaller bunch. Another hostess trick I always use when entertaining is to make a smaller bouquet. I will separate a few flowers or use the extra flowers from my main arrangement or arrangements and make a small bouquet for the bathroom. I usually prepare a small English hand-tie, add it to a vase or mason jar and display in the bathroom. It is amazing how many people notice and comment that they loved the flowers in the bathroom.
Don’t overheat your blooms. Most garden flowers love the sunlight and grow and thrive outside in the sun, but when they are cut it is an entirely different story. Keep your arrangements in a cool spot and they will last a lot longer – away from any heating vents or bright sunny window spot. It is tempting, because they look so pretty in the light, but if you want them to last, they should be kept cool and not exposed to too much heat.
Be mindful of their smell. This may seem obvious but the stronger the smell the less appropriate they are for the dinner table. You don’t want your guests at an event gagging and unable to eat because their table centerpiece is so fragrant. Lilly’s are a big culprit of this. And also with Lilly’s, cut the little dangly pieces in the middle because they will fall off and stain. If you have a pretty table cloth, they could ruin it.
When bunching you flowers in an English hand-tie (or any arrangement for that matter), be mindful to have your flowers at different levels and different positions. Bunching your flowers together to tightly and right up against each other takes away from the natural beauty of a full flower. Be mindful to arrange in a manner that will accentuate each flower.
Most important tip of all is to be creative. Your really can’t go wrong. Yes there are some rules and guidelines for arranging flowers that can make it easier and more enjoyable for you but flower arranging is a creative expression. Try thinking outside of the box.