Monday, March 3, 2008

Simple Flower Arranging


Please note that this series on flower arranging was originally written by Elizabeth of Elizabeth's flowers. Please visit her blog for more ideas.

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to our visitors from the online Finishing School today.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to cover the topic of Flowers in the Home, and today we’ll begin with simple flower arranging.

In all honesty, I believe flower arranging is something you are already good at. Even children are amazingly good at it, but I want to remind you of the basics and give you a few good tips along the way. And, remember that God has already made flowers incredibly beautiful.
All we have to do is gently place them in a different setting.

Types of Flowers: Tending toward the frugal side, I tend to use what I have readily available. Tomorrow I’ll cover cutting gardens, but use what is in abundance in your garden, in a nearby meadow, or whatever seems to be a good deal at the florist or supermarket. It’s also nice to have some greens of filler flowers to accent your primary flowers.

Vases and accessories: Anything that holds water is fair game. In addition to standard vases, I love using green Perrier water bottles, old lab ware, interesting votive holders, and mismatched china pieces such as sugar bowls or gravy boats. Use a clear vase or vessel when you are using flowers with beautiful, graceful stems, like calla lilies or tulips (see picture below).

Other tools: A knife, scissors, or shears that are really sharp (a sharp, even cut allows the flowers to absorb water and nutrients more efficiently). Also, floral foam and floral frogs are very useful for holding stems in just the right place. Personally, I usually prefer informal arrangements and rarely use them, but they are available from any good craft store. To keep stems in place when I’m in a hurry, I sometimes tie them together loosely with saran wrap.

Making your arrangement: After obtaining your flowers and selecting your vessel, remove any leaves that will fall below the waterline. This keeps the water and flowers fresher, longer. Also, re-cut the bottom of each flower stem on a diagonal just prior to placing them in the vase. I use floral food when I have it, and always pour a capful of hydrogen peroxide or a few drops of bleach into the water to help inhibit bacterial growth.

Next, think about what shape you would like your arrangement to be. Most arrangements tend to by pyramid shaped, especially for bouquets of more that one type of flower. Ball shaped arrangements are also common, especially for a uniformly shaped flower, such as roses or chrysanthemums.

Shorten the stems as needed to fit the general shape you have decided on. Make sure the flowers face outward, and at a pleasing angle for your shape. Use the largest flower along the bottom of your arrangement, and then work with one flower at a time, spreading each type of flower through out the arrangement. However, you may want to bunch together very small flowers of the same color, so that they can make more of an impact.

As you use up all of your flowers, fill up any remaining holes with greens. Make sure the greens don’t stick out; they should come to rest where the shape of your flowers ends.

Later in the week we will cover even simpler arrangements – arrangements with just a single flower, and arrangements made up entirely of foliage.

Tomorrow: Suggestions for growing a cutting garden and choosing color combinations for your arrangements.

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