The butterflies started flying around my stomach when I found out that I would be creating a flower arrangement for one of the houses on tour this Historic Garden Week. Having spent years admiring the many wonderful arrangements created by the local garden club ladies, my inner critic started reminding me that I was unqualified for the task. Fortunately, rAs was our team leader, and I knew that I could count on her to
hold guide my hand if necessary. Using the following 8-point blueprint, the flowers practically arranged themselves.
1. Consider the Setting
Our floral team drew a magnificent home on the Westover Tour. With 10,000 tulips planted on the grounds, the traditional interiors with lots of reds and browns required substantial floral designs that referenced the setting. We each claimed a room that needed an arrangement and started thinking about the garden flowers and foliage that we could collect.
2. Harvest the Floral Elements
I quickly learned one garden club secret when I landed on the team: claim cutting rights to your friends’ and fellow club members’ gardens asap. eWf’s garden was cultivated by former owner and associate garden club member hBd. I couldn’t wait to get my clippers on her variety of flowers and greens the day before making the arrangements.
Other members of the posse also helped me find cuttings. My own garden has a very limited variety of blooms thanks to the neighboring deer, but I have been watching with anticipation my bed of irises. I knew their purply color could work for my corner arrangement, but would they bloom in time?
3. Condition the Cuttings
After jBr and I finished loading up buckets with cuttings, they all came into the kitchen to be recut and conditioned per their individual needs. Woody stalk ends received a pounding before being placed in warm water. The stems of the hellebores (two varieties) got diagonal cuts and submerged up to their necks in warm water.
Two of my irises bloomed early, so I placed them in water in the fridge. The others I harvested the evening before and recut under a sinkful of warm water. Overnight a few more opened, and the tight blooms began relaxing.
4. Load Up the Garden Goodies
From the kitchen to the back of my car, the buckets needed to be situated just right. I drove like a little old lady on the way to the garden tour house. No doubt I caused some cursing from those behind me during the rush hour transport.
5. Reevaluate the Arrangement
The best laid plans sometimes don’t work when you are dealing with garden flowers, but that’s okay. The key to these arrangements is flexibility and having more than enough materials. While I had originally hoped to do something a bit more modern, the irises and tulips, as well as the sitting room venue for my arrangement, demanded a more traditional design. No problem.
6. Get the Mechanics Right
The homeowner wanted us to bring our own containers for arrangements. I chose a Revere bowl for its timeless shape and size.
soak the oasis well
Fortunately my bowl has an acrylic liner that works well with oasis and floral tape.
Without a big knife, floral wire makes a great alternative tool for cutting the oasis.
I pushed hard to shape the oasis into the bowl and taped it down tightly, adding a layer of tape under the lip of the bowl to keep the ends in place.
Sticky clay secures the acrylic bowl into the Revere bowl.
7. Start Sticking Your Snippings
After taking a deep breath, I gave my irises fresh cuts and started sticking them into the oasis, turning the container as I went.
Fringed parrot tulips that I knew would raise their heads by the following day came next.
The layering continued with Splendid Lilac, hellebores and more greens to cover the mechanics and create balance from every perspective.
Experience tells you when it is time to stop. My inner critic tells me that I don’t have enough, but I think I stopped in time.
8. Keep Your Fingers Crossed
Once placed, the arrangement needs re-watering, as well as a little prayer. Even if you do everything right, your flowers and greens may not stay happy for the following 36 hours when the arrangement needs to look good for all of the visitors, as well as the homeowner. Our team leader had a chance to make some final tweaks early the next morning. Luckily the arrangements held up well, though rAs did have to push in some of my tulips and irises.
Now Admire the Work of Others
Take a look at splendorosity that my fellow arrangers created for this stunning home.
I stand in awe of their talent. Fortunately for me, the beauty of spring garden flowers overcome any design flaws so long as you follow these steps for treating them right.