Monday, June 28, 2010

You Can: Arrange Flowers

As promised, this week we’re gonna cover a few do-it-yourself projects that are actually feasible.  Get ready to save some money, have some fun, and enjoy the thrill of creating something special.  First up: flower arrangements.  

Whether you have an overflowing garden of flowers waiting to be harvested or simply enjoy picking up three bunches for $10 at your local grocery store, it’s always good to have a few flower arranging tricks up your sleeve.  It doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, young, old, incredibly creative or altogether boring…this is something you can do.  If you’re putting together an arrangement you want to last, place the health of the stems as first priority.  

Cut flowers on an angle with a sharp (non-serrated) blade to expose the maximum amount of stem surface area.  Cut stems under a running faucet or place immediately into water so air bubbles won’t form at the end of the stem and cause a water barrier.  If you’re cutting fresh flowers off the plant, try to do so early in the morning or late in the afternoon when they’re comparatively cooler and ensure the water you put them in isn’t too severe.  Lukewarm water is best for most flowers…anything too cold or too hot can do damage to the stem.  If possible, change your flowers’ water completely (instead of just topping it off) every two days…it’s the best way to extend their life.  

The more you know about the flowers you’re arranging the better- for example, daffodils should ideally be kept in their own vase as they give off a compound that is toxic to other flowers.  Also, bulb flowers (such as daffodils, hyacinths and tulips) do best in water that is slightly cooler in temperature.  

Commercial floral preservatives (those little food packets you get when someone sends you flowers) contain the basic components of life for a flower, bioxides to kill bad bacteria, acid to help water move up the stem more easily and sugar for food.  If you have them on hand, use them…if not, you may want to consider purchasing some from your local florist.  

Even if you’ve already decided all this prep sounds like too much work and you’ll be ignoring everything I just said, you can still make a lovely arrangement (but don’t go pointing fingers in this direction when it croaks before it’s time).  The most important factors to keep in mind when designing an arrangement are color and shape…while there aren’t necessarily rigid rules to follow, there are a few guidelines you should consider.  If you’re not sure about your color combinations, consult the color wheel.

Monochromatic arrangements (ones with different variations of the same color) are always beautiful.  Complimentary colors (those that appear opposite from each other on the color wheel- blue & orange, green & red, yellow & violet ) make each other appear brighter and are another wonderful combo.  When it comes down to it, it’s all about your personal preference and what you have available.  

Choose your container before you decide on a shape…as a general rule the size of your vase should be one-half to one-third the size of the arrangement.  Determine how much symmetry you want your flowers to display- if you want a lot try a dome arrangement, for a less proportioned look go for a free-form shape that works with the natural curvature of each stem.  For a different look altogether, try grouping similar groups of flowers in clusters.  Use your imagination…you’ll be surprised what you come up with.  

Once you have a general idea of what you’d like the final product to look like, start arranging- the easiest way to do this is directly in the vase.  For more shape control try adding large flowers first, small flowers second and foliage last.  When you’re finished, display it proudly or give it to a deserving friend.  If you’re looking to send a particular type of message through your flowers, take a quick read through this “Meaning of Flowers” post I noticed Vera Wang’s website…I found it to be quite entertaining  

Red: love, passion, desire
Yellow: friendship, happiness
Coral: desire
Peach: sincerity
Dark Pink: gratitude, appreciation
Pale Pink: grace, admiration
Orange: fascination, enthusiasm
White: innocence
Purple/Lilac: love at first sight
Red: irresistible love
Yellow: friendship
Purple: loyalty
Orange: warmth and happiness
Other Seasonal Flowers
Anemone: expectation
Baby's Breath: innocence, a pure heart
Calla Lilies: magnificent beauty
Daisies: gentleness and innocence
Gardenias: purity
Hyacinths: loveliness
Hydrangea: good cheer
Iris: warm affection
Lilies: majesty
Lily of the Valley: happiness
Orchids: rare beauty
Queen Anne's Lace: trust
Stephanotis: marital bliss
Violets: modesty and faithfulness


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