Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mama J's Guide to Making a Beautiful Floral Arrangement

I love flowers. I love fresh flowers. I love silk flowers. I love dried flowers. I love planting flowers in my garden. I love making paper flowers. I love a floral print - on clothing, fabric or wallpaper. Something about flowers just makes me happy. It is that simple. 

I buy fresh flowers as often as I can. I will spend a long period of time at a grocery store bunching flowers together, trying new color combinations, mixing textures and types, then ultimately coming home to spend a good hour arranging them into at least one bouquet. This morning I went to Whole Foods, my favorite place to get affordable, loose flower stems, so you know I came back with some good stuff!
Today's haul from Whole Foods - purple carnations, peach roses, white roses, white hydrangeas, purple tulips, white lisianthus , dusty miller and assorted greenery 

I decided to document my bouquet making process so you can try it yourself at home!

First thing I do is unwrap all of the individual groups of flowers. Cut the rubber band that holds them together, but keep them all in groups still. I fill up my island sink with water, as well as a flower bucket that I have (I got this one from the florist at Wegmans and it comes in very hand when I am doing a large arrangement) and put all of the stems in water.

The next step is to clean your flowers, and prep them for arranging. This process is a little different depending on what type of flower you are using, but generally it means to remove all of the leaves from the stems of the flowers. For tulips, seen below, I like to remove all but one of the green leaves. They tend to take up a lot of excess room in the vase so I get rid of them.
For roses it is a little more complicated and time consuming. I like to not only remove the leaves from the stem, but I remove the thorns (if they have them) as well. I believe florists have an actual tool for this, but I use the bottle opening part of my kitchen sheers and it works like a charm. I also pick off any suspect petals from the outside of the bud.
After prepping the roses they look much more uniform and pretty.
Prepped and ready to go!

Ok, so now that your flowers are all clean and de-leaved it is time to start arranging. Some people might start with a vase and put the flowers in individually, but I start by arranging a bouquet in my hand. I usually start with the largest headed flower, in this case a Hydrangea, and then add all of my flowers around it, while continuously turning the bouquet in my hand.
Add some flowers, turn the bouquet, add some flowers, turn the bouquet...and so on

In addition to the varieties of shapes and types of flowers, I love to add some sort of greenery to my arrangements. Sometimes I use berries, sometimes flowering cabbage but this time I am using one of my favorite types of leaves, Dusty Miller - which always sounds like an old-timey country singer to me - that beautiful silvery green leaf you see above. 

Ok, so you are building this big bouquet, and your hand is starting to get tired, and you can barely hold onto it anymore - time for a vase. I line up my arrangement next to my vase and cut one stem as a marker so that I know where to cut all of the stems to get my desired arrangement height. 

Chop all the stems while still holding on to the bouquet. Try to chop at an angle if possible. 

Next step is to put the flowers in the vase. Here is where I add a few more things or move things around if I don't feel like there is enough color variation in one area of the arrangement. 
We are almost there!
I will pull flowers by the heads, very gently, so that all of the blooms are showing and nothing is hiding behind the larger blooms. I don't like when everything is the same length, and the arrangements have a uniform shape. I like when there is a little uniqueness to it - things sticking or poking out, something hanging lower over one side than the other. In this arrangement I decided to use those bright green greens around the base of the bouquet, but not uniformly all over, just a few here and there. After a few final tweeks you have a beautiful creation! 

Here are my tips for making a beautiful arrangement yourself at home: 

1. When picking out flowers, don't be afraid to try unique color combinations. The important thing is to be creative. I have never put peach and lavender together in a arrangement, but I think they work really well, when balanced out by the white and green of the other blooms. 
2. If you don't want to have more than one color (I love an all white arrangement) be sure to either buy a ton of the same flower (I am talking like 20 hydrangea stems or 50 tulips), or the same color in a variety of different flowers. 
3. Clean and prep your flowers before you arrange them
4. Start creating your arrangement bouquet-style in your hand
5. Add a flower, then turn the bouquet, add a flower, turn the bouquet...and so on. 
6. After you cut all the flowers and put them in your vase play with the arrangement - add flowers, move flowers, pull flowers up higher, but be gentle!
7. Don't go for a uniform shape. Again, be creative! One of my favorite arrangements I have ever made (which I can't find a photo of) was in an oblong vase and all the flowers were grouped by type and color. It was weird and amazing. 

Some of my favorite arrangements I have made in the last year

So there you have it. It isn't rocket science! Hopefully some day in the future you will be able to visit the Boston Floral Mama shop and buy my arrangements for yourself or your loved ones. And then stop at Boston Jewelry Mama for some baubles, and Boston Photo Mama for a photoshoot, and Boston Baby Accessory Mama for some baby booties, and then Boston Toy Mama for a handmade doll...damn I really need a crafty intervention!!!

Happy Floral Arranging! 


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