Creating arrangements from fresh cut garden flowers is something I truly enjoy. The beauty of these natural, fragrant bouquets looks lovely in any setting. Flowers bought from a florist are grown to last longer and have taller, straighter stems, while garden flowers are more delicate, have shorter stems, and need to be conditioned before you start to create your design.
Here are the tools of the trade:
A sharp, clean knife – preferably one that folds and fits in your pocket
- A pair of heavy duty clippers for cutting thick stems and branches
- A thorn stripper for roses
- Green paddle wire for fastening or bundling flowers
- Floral tape in green and brown to strengthen stems or hide mechanics
- Water tubes for short stem flowers
To begin, it is best to cut flowers in the early morning or evening. Stems should be placed directly into water after cutting to prolong their life. Let the flowers stand in lukewarm water with added floral food or preservative for at least an hour before starting to clean them. Remove all the foliage under the waterline.
Even if you buy all the flowers you need for your design, you can always turn to your garden for the foliage.
Here are some of my favorite greens to cut from the garden:
- Chocolate Geranium- Green and brown foliage with a slight gray tint works well with white or pastel flowers
- Indian Dunes Geranium-Bright green and brown, great for primary colored flowers
- Little John Azalea- Burgundy red multi leaves, which accent purple, blue, and red flowers
- Loropetalum- Multi colored foliage drapes over the edge of the vase
- Pittosporum Tenuifolium- Airy small green leaves with a dark stem can be used to balance arrangements without distracting from the flowers
- Myrsine- Dense small green foliage with a darker stem are great foundation greenery
Select a vase that is appropriate for the size and quantity of flowers you cut. I like to use either a clear vase, so the flowers are the focal point of the arrangement, or pewter containers that hide the stems and draw more attention to the flowers.
I separate my cut flowers into three groups of large, medium, and small flowers, or you can think of them as focal, filler, and accent flowers.
Start your arrangement with a little greenery, and then add three large or focal flowers placing them across from each other in the vase in the shape of a triangle. This creates a crisscross framework.
Add in the medium flowers to fill out the arrangement. Here I have added garden roses.
Three dahlias have been added. Notice how the shades of pink in the flower tie together the color of roses.
I place salpiglossis grouped together in bunches into the arrangement. I like to group these flowers together so the overall design does not have a dotted appearance.
For the final touch, I add in the accent flower scabiosa and any needed greenery to finish the design.
Remember, these are garden flowers and the overall arrangement should have a natural, unarranged appearance, so don’t worry about the technical design. Enjoy the process, and let the beauty of the flowers shine.
– Eric Cortina, Creative Director & Home Decor Buyer