To be creative with a bouquet, start by being creative with where you get your flowers. Florists are just one place—quality will be great, but prices will be high. Grocery stores also have by-the-stem flowers for sale, as do many farmers' markets. Look for bouquet elements in your backyard as well: viburnum, cherry tree branches, forsythia, border flowers.
Greenery and branches aren't merely fillers to a bouquet. They add textures, variations, surprise and balance to brightly colored flowers. Think ferns, ivy, tree and shrub branches, and ornamental grasses. If the flowers you bought didn't come with greenery, and your backyard doesn't supply what you need, purchase an inexpensive pot of ivy to clip.
Wherever your floral material comes from, it will last longer in arrangements if you snip the ends of the stems diagonally as soon as you get them indoors. Now here's the real secret: Give them a bath. Plunge greens and flower stems up to their necks into a bucket or sink full of cool water. This allows further water absorption. Try to give them all a half-day soak, if you have time. If you're rushed, just soak as long as possible.
Ready to start creating your bouquet? Clear off a big table, spread newspaper and lay your soaking wet flowers and greenery. Separate the flowers into fluffy material, straight stems and greenery.
It is easiest to begin arranging with fluffy flowers like baby's breath, Sweet Williams, asters and multiflora garden roses. Cut the stems again, and place material in your container so that it creates an airy, mounded nest around the opening.
Next, add straighter stems such as chrysanthemums, Star Gazer lilies, daisies and Peruvian lilies so that the fluffy nest actually holds the taller flowers steady. Cut the straight stems so that the taller flowers hover gracefully close to the fluffy nest. The aim is to have the arrangement about equal in height to the container's height.
Separate flowers and fill in the fluffy nest and the taller stems with different textured greens. When you finish adding everything, stick your spread-out fingers into the arrangement and lift the flowers up a bit. This will make your bouquet less stiff.
Mason jars, old teapots, wine bottles can all house bouquets. Be as creative with the container as you are with its contents.
Best known are protea, those amazingly large, colorful, deeply textured tropical flowers. One protea, surrounded by contrasting flowers and greenery, makes a powerful package.
One approach is a mix of flower colors against more neutral greenery and branches. Be bold—mix oranges with purples; whites with fiery reds. Another approach: Keep your flowers in the same color family, and use greenery to create contrast. Purple blooms against pale green and silvery greenery is beautiful.
That is, use odd numbers of flowers. For some reason, the eye is more comfortable looking at groupings of three or five rather than two, four, or six.
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