Nothing perks a home up more, indoors or out, like fresh flowers. If you lack the luxury of a cutting garden, look down your grocer’s produce aisle. Cut flowers, fruit, vegetables and greens are ready to mix with your imagination for a plethora of pretty and affordable arrangements.
As pretty and punchy as a burst of fireworks, a simple bunch of same flowers in a container is easy and elegant. Look for flowers on long arching stems such as French tulips, delphiniums, or alstroemeria. If your container lets long stems flop too much, try this: Using floral tape, create a grid on the top of your container to keep stems in place. Place tallest stems in the center and fill in around the edges with shorter stems.
Before you toss those empty tin cans in the recycling bin, take a look at the labels. Some of them offer graphic labels that can add charm to a grouping of florals. Gather a bunch of flowers in a mix of size, color, and shape. Wash the interiors of the cans and fill with water. Place stems around the outer edges of the cans first and build up to a mounded shape in the center. Group several cans together as a centerpiece or on a coffee or side table.
Take advantage of water’s ability to magnify the impact of color and shape by floating fruit and flowers in a jar. Choose rounded produce such as citrus fruits in vivid colors and shapely white blossoms like daisies, dahlias, or mums. Place mixed produce in a glass apothecary jar. Add water and allow produce to settle.
Insert blossoms strategically between produce and around the jar.
Gathered in a vintage cheese box, old mason jars make charming vessels for a trio of matching bouquets. Select flowers in various shapes but a minimum of colors to allow the containers to share the spotlight. Keep the arrangement of stems loose and open. Remove most leaves and place the largest flower heads first. Fill in with more compact blossoms.
Dress up a ring cake with a circlet of alstroemeria and pretty posies in the center.
A single type and color of flower with flexible petals that allow a tight bunching of blossoms works best for this arrangement. Slip a tiny vessel of water into the center of a ring cake. Fill the vase with a bunch of same-size stems so that blossoms rest just over the cake. Remove other flowers from stems and arrange around the cake.
If you want a zesty arrangement near a busy work area such as a kitchen countertop or a low centerpiece for a table, opt for a short and steady container such as this vintage enamel pan. Rounded produce and flowers in white and a complementary warm or cool hue work best in this arrangement. Fill a baking pan with produce. Add a shallow layer of water to keep flowers hydrated. Insert blossoms into spaces between produce—our oranges and mums will create a long-lasting impression.
Daisies, mums, gerberas, and greenery fill a canister with a limited palette of yellow, red, and white. To prepare your vessel, place a smaller vase with water inside a glass canister and fill the area between the two with almonds, sunflower seeds or other grain, nut, or seed. Arrange the lower flowers first around the rim of the canister and fill in with taller blooms toward the center. Accent with greenery.
Keep these suggestions in mind when working with flowers:
Choose wisely: Select flowers with plump firm buds showing color, unbroken stems, and healthy-looking leaves.
Always cut stems under running water. Place flowers in well-ventilated areas away from smoke or open windows.
Keep them in fresh water: Change it every day and give stems a fresh cut.
Provide nourishment: As living organisms, flowers need food, too. Dissolve floral preservative in the water each time you change it. Note the water temperature. Warm water will encourage buds to open while cold water slows development.
Strip the leaves: Remove leaves below water level and thin those above, too, to reduce the mass of greenery. Mums are the exception—leaves will help the flowers stay fresh.
Arrange accordingly: For a conventional arrangement, once you’ve chosen your vessel, the rule of thumb is that your tallest flower should be no more than 1 1/2 times the height of the vessel—but it’s even more important to create your composition based on where it will reside. Since even the hardiest of blooms only lasts so long, place displays where they’re visible at standing height so they can work their alluring magic on residents and guests. The exception is, of course, for a table centerpiece. If your bouquet will remain on the table during the meal, keep it under 14 inches high so that it doesn’t obstruct conversation across the table.
Photos by Chris Hennessey
© Caruth Studio