When COVID reared its ugly head in March, I started to spend a lot more time at home as my garden travel schedule was cancelled. Trained as a floral designer, and also an avid gardener, I decided to grow more plants that I can use in floral arrangements using my preferred method “garden style”.
Arranging flowers has always determined what I plant in my garden. Is it a long lasting cut? Will it be easy to arrange? Does it have long sturdy stems? And, will it add a ‘wow ‘ factor to my arrangements? These are all questions that I ask myself when I plant a tree, shrub, perennial, or annual.
As a beekeeper, I am also interested in the plant’s nectar/pollen value to my honeybees. And I never use pesticides or sprays. I just make sure to plant it in the right space and give the plant the best conditions to thrive. if something is too difficult to grow because of disease or pest issues, I simply won’t grow it. There are too many other choices out there to pick from.
#BouquetoftheDay on Facebook
Creating a Facebook group to post all these creations, I invited people to join as well and it is great garden therapy to comment on other arrangements and also to see how creative people can be!
If you want to see more creations on my #BouquetoftheDay Facebook group from other group members gardens, or to post your own, simply join the group and start arranging!
Anemones were always my ‘golden grail’ of home grown flower that I wanted in abundance for arranging. The jewel tones of its flowers and long vase life enticed me to try this not-so-easy flower. After diving in and planting over 400 corms, I learned it really isn’t hard at all. After planting them in October last year, I was harvesting dozens of them a day, starting in early March when I was starving for color. All of my corms were provided by Longfield Gardens and they were stunning! Always ordering from Longfield Gardens, I have never been disappointed with the quality and results of my plants.
I will be posting on a separate blog soon on the whole process, so you can order your anemone corms for the fall and be successful.
Garden Style Arranging
Garden Style arranging is not what you would find in a FTD floral shop which tend to somewhat stiff and formulaic arrangements – pretty but not quite my style!
After my years of working at a florist, I know that each flower has a unit price and you can’t go over the price limit designated for the bouquet. That can limit your creativity and desire to have a lush and more bountiful bouquet. But in the garden, you can go wild with your offerings and not worry about how much it will cost.
Garden Style arranging is a much looser and varied arranging style that takes advantage of the seasonal offerings from my planting beds. Things that I never considered for arranging I look at in a different light – like edibles. Using sprays of cherry tomatoes, pea tendrils, or berries added another dimension that you won’t see in any florist shop bouquet. Another standout for me has been the great diversity of foliage available in the garden instead of the over-used Bakers Fern seen in many floral shop offerings.
This video will show you how I arrange a trio of vases with Dahlias:
Have you heard that the UK’s Chelsea Flower Show has banned oasis floral foam? There is a reason! The floral foam that arrangers have used for many years is made from a petrochemical that decomposes over thousands of years! many alternatives are available, like waterproof floral tape, chicken wire, and floral ‘frogs’.
Taking good photos of your arrangements is really important, especially for posting on social media. Backdrops are the most important thing I learned how to do. I bought lengths of white canvas from a fabric store and painted different colors to give different moods and effects to my arrangements.
Lighting is so important that I became obsessed with it. I would put the same arrangement out during different parts of the day to get the best results, taking multiple photos until I found one that worked. Natural (outdoor) light is really the best, but if I had several days of cloudy, rainy, or snowy weather, I set up a basement studio with a selection of backdrops to choose from. I added additional lighting with light poles and light clamps to get the best look.
I used my iphone or my trusty Panasonic DMZ camera for all my photos, trading back and forth with those two.
Top 10 Tips for Garden Style Arranging
- Diversity – Plant a combination of annuals, perennials, and flowering bulbs and even vegetables with different bloom times so you have flowers and foliage available for a long time. My favorite work horse flower is dahlias with its huge selection of sizes and shapes. Go to Heirloom Annuals to see some examples of annuals to try.
2. Cutting- Carrying a water filled bucket with me in the early morning garden is the easiest and fastest way to cut and ‘condition’ my flowers. Conditioning means to fully hydrate your selections so they last longer – having a long vase life.
3. Arranging – Instead of using non-compostable floral foam (oasis), start by arranging foliage into your water filled vase. The structure of the branches will hold up more delicate single-stemmed flowers.
4. Containers – Be creative with your vases. Galvanized buckets, large mixing bowls, goldfish bowl, pitchers, crocks, teapots, teacups, pumpkins/gourds, mason jars, empty cans, are all great for arranging. My favorite simple arrangement is floating flowers in a bowl. See Floating Beauties.
5. Seasonal – Create with the season or occasion in mind. For example, during the fall season, I use lots of pumpkins and gourds. For winter arrangements, make use of evergreens, interesting twigs, and holiday decorations. My outdoor arrangements last for months. Go to Foraging for Seasonal Arrangements or Front Porch Winter Cheer.
6. Theme – If you have a theme in mind, don’t be afraid to use props or accessories to interpret your idea. I stage my arrangements with favorite books, birds’ nests, and other objects to embellish the arrangement.
7. Explore – Forage in the woods and on roadsides for great finds. I have collected Pinecones, Lotus Pods, Lichen-Covered Branches, Cattails, Goldenrod, Grasses, Flowering tree branches, and Evergreens. Park off the road for safety and wear long sleeves and pants to guard against ticks and poison ivy. Go to Foraged Arrangements for more tips.
8. Houseplants- Look inside your house and use houseplant foliage and flowers. Philodendron foliage makes wonderful accents in an arrangements. My variegated ginger has been cut often for the distinctive foliage.
9. Drieds –Make sure you include in your plantings things that can be dried or preserved for use later. Hydrangeas, Cockscomb, Strawflowers, Goldenrod, Yarrow, and Marigolds are just a few that dry wonderfully by simply hanging up to dry to create a winter arrangement. Go to Dried Flowers are Back from the Dead.
10. Be Creative – Floral arranging can intimidate some people as they think there are rules to follow. There aren’t!!! Do what looks good and works for you.
My criteria for including flowers on this list, is that they must be easy to grow, last long in a vase, and have sturdy stems for arranging.
Chrysanthemums Oriental Lilies
Dahlias (My favorite!!) Sunflowers
A variety of colors and textures of both foliage and berried shrubs, adds pizzazz to any floral arrangement.
Amsonia (Blue Star) foliage Purple Smoketree
Arborvitae Twig Dogwoods
Aucuba Viburnum, foliage and berries
Grasses White Pine
Mahonia, foliage and berries Willows, curly and pussy
Nandina, foliage and berries Winterberry
Growing, cutting, and arranging flowers is a great way to exercise your creativity and bring the beauty of the outdoors inside. Join my #Bouquetoftheday Facebook group and post your creations for everyone to see.