I have been obsessed with florals for as long as I can remember. In fact, I am that person that always keeps fresh flowers in my home whether it's yard blooms, branches, or greenery. Now with my professional business, I can encourage others to do the same. Our family owned flower shop was started in 1968 and even though I haven't been around that long you can imagine just how many flower arranging tips I have collected over the years.
I freelance with a wide range of shops here in Atlanta as an independent designer. Plus, I traveled around the country as the Mayesh Design Star teaching workshops in cities around the country and collaborated with Pottery Barn for design classes in their retail locations. Beyond what I learned in our own shop, I have learned even more about how to create beautiful compositions by working with others.
I'd love to share a few tips with you with images of one of my favorite garden style flower arrangements captured by Katrina Barrow Photography. This moody arrangement features tropical flowers like anthuriums and orchids along side classic varieties like garden roses and tulips. It tells a beautiful flower story that's all mine. And, I believe one of my happiest moments is when Florists Review featured it on a front cover.
Please use the tips you feel are best for you and discard the rest for your own processes. And, as I always say, remember it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.
1. Always trim flowers at an angle.
Whether using a knife or floral strips prepare your stems by cutting at an angle to encourage maximum water absorption. The angle also prevents the stems from getting pushed to the bottom of the vase in a way that prevents drinking. An old time florist once told me that the life of a flower is in the water absorption. I have alway tried to keep fresh cut stems off tables or stacked where they aren't submerged. Upon any snip they go directly in water.
2. Take off bottom leaves.
Many people use gloves, scissors or pruners but you can usually strip the stems easily with bare hands. Or, at least I do. It is critical to remove the foliage from the bottom part of the stems and to keep it out of the water. The decaying leaves cause bacteria. Anything in the water the flowers will drink. Stinky water is a clear sign that something not-good is growing in the water. Clean, clear water is excellent for hydrating beautiful blooms.
3. Cleaning buckets and vases is essential.
This sounds obvious but in event work, in flower shop setting or even at home it's easy to skip cleaning the buckets and the vases. Trust me, I have tried to skip this part before to save time and money. However, in my experience it doesn't work this way. If you use the same container it’s important to actually wash it with soap, hot water and I use a dab of bleach. I am not talking about rinsing, you guys. I mean, grab a brush and scrub the bacteria away. Your flowers will last longer in clean vessels.
4. Freshen water frequently.
Daily water exchanging is another step that can get lost when things are busy but this extra step will prolong the life of the flowers. As I mentioned above the bacteria in the water gets "drunk up" and when it does it steals the life out fo the blooms. I like pretty, fresh flowers! If you can't get to it every day I recommend doing it as often as possible.
5. Feed your flowers.
I like to eat. Don't you? Flowers need nourishment, too. Flower food whether purchased by the jug or in the little packet you get from a florist are absolutly worth using. I have several flower foods that are go-tos and they work for foraged plants and flowers, too.
6. Stick to the seasons.
Local and seasonal flowers give arrangements as sense of time and place. When you arrange flowers you are brining the outdoors into your home, lives and celebrations. Not only do these flowers offer remarkable longevity they also give luxury floral designs a rich, organic look that looks straight from the garden. It is hard rule that I always incorporate fresh clippings into arrangements. Just look and see if you can spot it. But, there are always seasonal items in my recipes.
7. Bring in a surprise.
Unexpected elements and surprises give arrangements a garden style aesthetic that is rich in whimsy. Non traditional elements like vines, branches and pods are a great surprise. Mixing a classic varieties like garden roses with tropical flowers like anthuriums is surprising. I also like mixing rare hard to find blooms with ones fresh clipped from the parking lot. Don't be surprised if you see a dried Oak Leaf Hydrangea from my neighbors yard tucked in. It makes me laugh and gives my flower story a hint of comedy... at least to me! Creative ingredients in the recipe offer texture, interest, personality, mood and a wonderful story.
8. Use mechanics.
Use those tools, girl! A floral frog, taped grid, foam, chicken wire or careful stem placement are a must to keep stems in place. This is true if your arrangement is sitting in one place or being delivered through a transport to a friend or event. My favorite helpers is a natural nest that I create with the first stems I put in the arrangements. I also like the natural movement and dispersement of product that chicken wire offers.
White clooney ranunculus
Light pink ranunculus
Sea Star Fern
Ti Leaves Stock – ti tops
Brown Cymbidium Orchids
White Mini Cymbidium Orchids
Anthuriums – choco, terra, pistache, white
Charity Garden Roses
Green eryngium - Sirius questar
Blush Tulips standard
Ornithogalum Star of Bethlehem
Black knight scabiosa
Icelandic poppy - white