What you will need:
- Pre-made flower bouquet in bright colors with some daisies
- Scissors or sheers
- Short square vase
Floral arranging used to be something that made me irrationally nervous. There was some part of me that figured if I did something like that it would have to be of the caliber of something worthy of a wedding or a magazine photo shoot. This was a silly way to approach something that can be fun, relatively easy, and worthwhile.
My mom grew up in a time when women were expected to know how to do all this “entertaining” stuff that seems to have passed me and my peers by in our training for adulthood. The reason this happened is to be lauded as since the 1950s, women have taken over a large population of the workforce. I would never have had the professional opportunities if my mother’s generation hadn’t gotten out of the home and into the fray. While domestic skills didn’t necessarily remain top of mind for the baby boomers, thankfully, many still retained the knowledge of how to do these sorts of Martha Stewart-ey tasks. They all seemed to be bakers, chefs, expert napkin folders, seamstresses, etc. I am happy my mother has been willing to pass on these skills to me. I imagine my grandmother gained these skills from her mother, who in turn, learned a great deal of them from her mother, and so forth. The ladies of yesteryear also had “home economics” as a subject in school, which undoubtedly included some of this stuff too. I think home ec. still exists in some areas, but I doubt it has the same content as it did in Donna Reed’s era. Below we see my mom, her mom, and maternal grandmother. Holy Mad Men Season 1-2, people.
As an aside, I still don’t know how to blow-dry my hair correctly. No matter what, it always comes out not really straight and incredibly fluffy. With varying degrees of success I attempted to make up for all the lady-learning I was supposed to do as a child or in adolescence when I was in my early-mid twenties, which is when I realized I wanted to be vaguely feminine in how I presented myself to the world. Needless to say, I lack a lot of these skills. Unlike my late extremely lady-like grandmother, I am still a serious work in progress on the lady-like front. Here’s a picture of how my grandparents looked, presumably, all the time:
Can you imagine the time it takes to look that put-together? I barely have time to put my hair in a sloppy knot and run out the door. But I digress…
I love to accessorize in every sense of the term. As much as I love a good piece of jewelry, I also enjoy how flowers can dress up a space. Unfortunately, until recently my idea of arranging flowers was to buy a pre-made bouquet, find a vase, fill it with water, trim the stems, shove them in the vase and hope for the best. Discovering how simple it is to make that pre-made bouquet in to a delightful arrangement has been a game-changer.
First step in doing a simple arrangement is choosing a pre-made bouquet you like. I found the one for my demonstration at Trader Joe’s. They do a nice job of putting together bright and balanced pre-made bunches. If you have time or the inclination, visiting a florist will yield more high-quality flowers in addition to allowing for the exact stems you want, but for the sake of practice I recommend going with a store-bought bunch.
Select your vase.
I enjoy all cut flowers, but I am loving the shorter vases these days for a few reasons:
- When using them as a centerpiece they are short and do not impede even the slightest of guests from seeing across the table to engage in conversation.
- They are sturdy. I have small children and appreciate a low-risk decoration.
- They are easy to use for arranging.
Open the bouquet and carefully separate the flowers by type so you know what you are working with for your arrangement.
Because balance is a large part of what you are trying to achieve in your floral arrangement, having the flowers organized will allow you to have a sense for how many accents you have to play with as you build.
Cut the flowers at an angle so that they are of varying lengths but no more than four inches (10 cm) taller than the vase itself.
Always cut flowers at an angle. If you cut them at about a 45 degree angle it maximizes the amount of water that the stem is able to take in by creating the largest possible surface area exposed to the water.* This will ensure that your flowers will stay fresh for as long as is possible. Some people even take apart their arrangements every day or so to trim down the stems to give it a fresh surface from which to drink. If I had the time for that, I probably would too.
*The one exception to this rule is if the flower or green you are trimming has a “woody stem.” In this instance you smash it with a hammer after you cut it… sounds fun, no?
Trim off the leaves that would be submerged in the water. If you don’t do this the water will grow bacteria faster which will require you to change your water more frequently.
Use the daisies as a lattice structure for the rest of the arrangement.
Place the daisy stems in the vase at alternating directions and angles.
By doing this you create a lattice structure that will act as a foundation for the remaining flowers and greens. This will help your arrangement be tighter and more secure. If you don’t have any daisies in your arrangement I would suggest purchasing a small bunch of greens to create your lattice structure before you move on to the accent flowers. It reminds me of a teepee.
Place your accent flowers in at alternating angles and directions.
Remember you want to achieve balance in your display.
I find it easiest to work with one type of stem at a time so that I make sure I am evenly spacing my various colors and shapes. I work with what I have the most of first and then continue on, finishing with what I might only have one or two of at the end. This way I can see a balanced bouquet and carefully choose where I want my final accents to go. Keep playing until you are satisfied. Voila!
“But wait,” you say, “There were purple flower casualties and I have some broken flowers! What do I do with them?”
Invariably a few stems will be broken leaving blossoms that can’t be used in the larger arrangement.
Fear not. You can use small bowls (or shot glasses) with water, in which your separated blossoms can float, to create little flower accents to place on the table around your beautiful creation.
Enjoy your creation! Now you, too, can cast aside your irrational fear of floral arranging!