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Three’s Company

One of the keys to creating that perfect arrangement is to know what will create interest and catch everybody’s attention.  And one of the ways to do that is to arrange your flowers in odd numbers.    Whether it’s a single rose bud to a gorgeously full table arrangement, there is something about using odd numbers that creates an exciting visual appeal.


A good way to think of it is that you are creating the arrangement in sections.  The focal flowers, the supporting flowers and then the fillers.   Following this simple guideline, you can expand the number depending on the size of the arrangement you are looking to make.  Keeping scale in mind, you should cut your stems and adjust the height of each group so that the visual effect is to draw the view’s eye around the arrangement.  For instance, the most basic arrangement would have 3 focal flowers, 3 supporting flowers and then 3 fillers.  Expanding the size of your arrangement is very easy from this starting point, but always make sure that your star attraction, the focal flower does not get lost when adding additional flowers to each level.


Tropical Beauties – The Heliconia

With the summer heat comes thoughts of tropical flower arrangements and tropical flowers.  The Heliconia with its beautifully colored bracts makes a fabulous statement in any tropical floral arrangement you could create.

A relative of the banana family, the Heliconia is also known as parrot flowers or lobster claws because of the unique shape of the bracts.  This gorgeous plant is also used for landscaping as well because it can grow to nearly 30 feet.  The leaves are paddle shaped and depending on the size of the plant itself range from 6 inches to over 10 feet.

The Heliconia is available in orange, purple, red, yellow, pink, green or a combination of any of these like the photo shown to the left.  The real flower of the Heliconia is hidden within the brightly colored bracts which protect its very sweet necter so that only hummingbirds with their long thin beaks can feed on it.

Some species of Heliconia have upright flowers and others have flowers that droop down from the main stem.  Those are called Hanging Heliconias.

Monday Blues

Over the last week or so I’ve been sharing with you lots of tips about putting your flower arrangements together, how to chose the right vase, getting your flowers ready to be arranged and we’ve also talked about the greenery for your arrangement.  Today, I’d like to share some tips with you about what are the best times to buy your flowers and why.

Most people would expect that Monday would be the best day to buy flowers.   After all, it is the first of the week, everything should be fresh, right?  Wrong.  Monday is actually the worst day to get your flowers, even here at the San Francisco flower market.  Anything that you would buy on Monday is either left over from the previous week or it arrived over the weekend and has sat without refrigeration waiting for markets to open.  Even just a day without being kept in a cool environment will cause flowers to age faster and lose vase life.

The best day of the week to buy flowers is actually Wednesday.  By then everything will have arrived from the wholesalers.  Anything left over from the end of the previous week will be gone and this will give you the best chance to find the exact flowers you are looking for.

But remember, no matter what day you buy your flowers, always make sure to ask the vendor about freshness.


Flower Arranging Tips and Tricks–Making the Cut

Last week I talked about how to pick the perfect vase for your flower arrangement.  Today I want to share with you some great tips on making sure that your flower are prepared just right for arranging.

Using flowers straight from your garden – If you are lucky enough to have space for a flower garden what better way to show off those flowers in a stunning arrangement for your home, a party or to give as a gift to somebody special.  Preparing those flowers before hand the proper way will help ensure that your creation will not only be beautiful but that it will stay that way for the vase life of the arrangement.

Always make sure to pick your foliage and flowers early in the morning.  This way the sun has not yet come out in full force and the sap will only just be rising the stems




Be sure to cut the stems on an angle.  Cutting them off straight or hammering the stems will increase the chance that bacteria could grown and cause your flowers to wilt prematurely.




Place your cut flowers loosely in a bucket of cool clean water that has been prepared with flower preservative in it.  If you are making a large arrangement, having a second and possibly a third bucket available will help to keep your flowers from being crushed in on each other.  This will also help eliminate the risk of bruised petals.

If you have purchased your flowers from a local florist, flower market or wholesaler, they will come to you already cut and wrapped.  Once you get them home, you will need to re-cut them on an angle, so that the fresh cut stems will be able to absorb water more readily.  You can then place them in buckets just like you would do with flowers chosen from your own garden and get ready to start your creation!

Flower Arrangement Tips and Tricks–Picking the Perfect Vase

Whether it is your grandmother’s most prized porcelain vase or that cute little teapot you picked up at a flea market, just about anything can be used to hold a flower arrangement.  And sometimes, it is more about the vase than the flowers inside.  I have several wonderful antique vases that I love to use when creating flower arrangements.   And creating a special floral arrangement for somebody as a gift using something that they collect or treasure as the vase makes that gift just so much more special.

I want to share with you a couple of tips and tricks about arranging whether you are choosing the flowers around the vase, or trying to figure out what is the best vase to use for those gorgeous long stemmed Iris that you’ve gathered up out of your yard.

The best way to determine vase size is to make sure that it is to scale with the flowers that you are planning to use.  For instance the vase to the left is a tall vase with a fairly standard sized opening.  It would be perfect for long stemmed roses, Iris, Calla Lilies, but might not work well with flower such as snap dragons or gladiolas.  Because even though they have long stems, flowers  of those types have blossoms that run down the length of the stem and you would have to sacrifice some of them in order for the combination to work .  Using a flared opening vase would probably suit them better.

A good rule to keep in mind is to make sure that your arrangement is never more that 2.5 times the height and width of your vase.  Any smaller and the arrangement will be dwarfed by the vase size and the flowers will not lay right, creating an awkward looking arrangement.  And any larger than than and you risk having the arrangement not only overpower the setting you placed it in, but risk having it topple over.

An Exotic Touch–Hibiscus

Looking to add an exotic touch to your flower arrangement?  Consider using the gorgeous Hibiscus.

This large blossomed flower is available in colors of red, pink, white, purple, orange and yellow.  The flower is trumpet shaped with five or more petals and range from just over an inch to over 7 inches depending on the species.

There are over 200 species of Hibiscus.  Some of them have medicinal uses and some are edible and all of them are lovely.

This lovely floral treasure grows best in hot tropical areas or cultivated in specialty greenhouses so you should expect to pay a higher price when adding Hibiscus to any arrangement you are creating.   Hibiscus flowers lend themselves very well to using used in bowls or table displays as the blooms last well without any water.   They can be floated in bowls and used with driftwood and other sea shore related details such as shells to make a beautiful arrangement for a summer event.   However, keep in mind that they have a very limited vase life, just around 2 days so when using Hibiscus in your arrangements, make sure to always place them out last and keep them in a cool dry place before hand.

Featured Flower-The Fragrant Freesia

Freesia is one of the biggest selling and most widely grown cut flower throughout the world.  Did you know that in the UK alone, over 110 million flowers are sold?  Freesia are an extremely popular flower for weddings and events.  Not only does it have a lovely scent, but it has a beautiful unique shape which makes it perfect for almost any arrangement imaginable.

Freesa grow in a pattern similar to gladiolus, with a tuft of long narrow leaves and a branched stem.  The leaves are light green in color and can grow to be nearly a foot in length.

Although the white or golden yellow Freesa is the one most commonly used, it is also available in orange, red, pink, mauve, lavender and purple as well as bi colors.  Their long slender stems make them perfect for accenting a bridal bouquet as well as dressing up arrangements in tall graceful vases.   The Freesa’s intoxicating fragrance can fill a room with its light delicate scent.

Summer Blooms–Gardenias

I just love the smell of fresh gardenias.  I’ve brought in my first 2 flowers of the season and right now my house smells just heavenly.    The Gardenia is the perfect choice if you are looking for a incredibly fragrant flower.  Often associated with love and romance, Gardenias are traditionally used in corsages, Gardenias can be used in other ways as well.  Down in Florida for instance, you will often see them floating in shallow bowls inside.

The blossoms are just beautiful, either a clear white or cream colored, they almost look like porcelain.   Gardenias are available in either a single or double bloom.  With their deep green glossy leaves, they leave a lasting impression in whatever arrangement you use them in.

They originated in tropical areas of South Asia and Africa, but are actually named for Alexander Garden, a Charleston, South Carolina. One variety of the Gardenia, know as Cape Jasmine can reach a height of 6 feet or more.  Another variety, Augustus Beauty can produce its lovely 2-3 inch diameter double blooms for up to three months.  Veitchi, which is often considered a florist’s Gardenia is generally grown in hot houses and products pure white blooms.  One of the largest varieties, commonly known as the Star Gardenia can grow up to 10 feet tall and has incredible 4 inch diameter single blossoms.

Summer Blooms-The Zinna

A member of the Aster flower family, the Zinna originates in Mexico and the Southwestern United States.  This brilliantly colored flower comes in a great variety of shapes, sizes and even multiple color options that make it perfect for almost any arrangement you could possibly think of.  Bloom varieties include single, double, cactus, dahlia style, ruffles and pom poms.

Zinnias are also available in a profusion of colors, multi-colors, and hues. Colors include, white, yellow, orange, red, rose, pink and multi-colored blooms.  Zinnas range in size from the miniature which grown to about a foot to giant varieties that can grow to over three feet tall.  The Zinnia plant’s leaves are lance-shaped and sandpapery to the touch.

The Giant Zinna has a long stalk that makes it a great choice for vase arranging as well as making it easier to trim for use in other arrangement styles.  The Miniature Zinna is the perfect choice for a small container or even a bud vase.  Adding a little greenery will bring out the gorgeous colors of the Zinna in any arrangement.   They hold up well in hot weather so they are a perfect flower choice when creating arrangements for outdoor events.  And with so many colors, shapes and even patterns available, you can create an almost endless variety of arrangements using just Zinnas.

Featured Flower- Snapdragons

Snapdragons uniformly bear a whorl of flowers atop slender stalks.   The most popular variety has a  snappable flowers, but others have open-faced flowers and can include double blooms.   Colors include white, yellow, burgundy, red, pink, orange, and bronze along with other variations of these colors, with the exception of blue.

Their large, blossom-laden flower heads have just a hing of fragrance. The vertical flower spikes open gradually from the bottom to the top.  Snapdragons make excellent cut flowers, but can wilt in the mid summer’s heat.  They are much better suited to an arrangement that will be indoors to insure that they stay lovely and fresh.

Available in two heights: dwarf varieties grow to about 10 inches while the taller types grow to a height of 18-24 inches. A variety that grows up to 5 feet has been developed, but it must be staked. A single snapdragon plant may produce seven or eight blossom spikes in the course of a summer.

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