Guest Post by: Anne
My weekly goal is to make flower arrangements with material cut from our yard. They usually goes in one of two places: either on the dining room table (short and roundish so as not to block the view at dinner) or on a table in the family room where they can be viewed at a distance and can be taller and more colorful.
Choosing and Cutting Flowers
With this in mind, I take the Rubbermaid juice container, fill it with cool tap water and head out to the front yard where the summer cutting garden resides. This is best done first thing in the morning when the flowers are freshest and full of water. Late in the evening is your second choice.
Start by taking stock of what’s available. You want a nice selection of colors and textures that will compliment the setting. I begin cutting the feature flowers, or stars of the show. Use nice sharp bypass pruners for a clean cut that will not mash the stems. Cut stems above a node with leaves or buds, a bit longer than you think you;ll need. They can be cut to length later. Strip off all foliage that will fall below the water line as these will make it harder to arrange the stems, and accelerate decay.
Move on to the filler material. You’ll want enough material to support the single flowers, but not overwhelm them. I combined a selection of “Henry Eilers” rudbeckia, Guara, linderhiemer, garlic chive in bud stage, and the end of the Shasta daisies.
Here’s the hard part. You need to condition the flowers for 24 hours or so in a cool place away from direct sunlight. This allows the flowers time to drink up water needed to brace themselves for the ordeal ahead. Cheating on the time lessens the durability of the material and the length of time the arrangement will last. (OK, I have been known to break the rules but the flowers don’t last as well).
Styling Your Arrangement
When all is ready, select a container and fill with clean cool tap water. The ones here are my selection of vases for upright arrangements. Like the three little bears, some are too large, some have necks that are too narrow, and the one that is closest to being just right is on the left.
I start with the feature flowers when using a frog for support, but don’t own one that fits this vase. so I had to begin with the filler for support. Arranging flowers is somewhat by trial and error. Trim each stem to a suitable length, but always remove at least an inch to allow it to take up water more easily. Remove damaged petals or leaves – good grooming allows you to use less than perfect plant material. (Also invite any insects that have come in with the flowers to leave by the front door. They are seldom good guests at the dinner table).
If the arrangement will be viewed from all sides, turn the container frequently so that it doesn’t wind up with a front and a back. Top off with water, wipe the bottom, and place on something that will protect the furniture. (Flowers like Iris will drip beads of moisture at the most inconvenient times…)
Enjoy! But arrangements are like pets, they need fresh water daily.