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By Any Other Name

Okay, admit it….when you think of organic flowers do you think of weeds? I do! Many of the flowers that are grown organically are not the type of flowers you would typically use for centerpieces. But, with some careful planning, they can be. Some time ago, I visited an organic farm near me and to my surprise they had sweetpeas growing wild (and organically) all over their property. They also had delphinium, roses, irises and sunflowers growing organically. They showed me mint, fever few, echinacea and lavender; and incorporated into a bouquet look very nice together. I purchased a couple of their medicinal bouquets, which included the herbal components mentioned above and made a bouquet for someone in the hospital. I was greeted by three employees at the front desk who couldn’t stop asking me about this bouquet. Yes, they noticed it had mint in it and couldn’t get over how nice it looked and smelled! The bottom line here is it is very possible to have organic centerpieces that look elegant and you will be proud to display.

In The Pink–The Peony

Peonies are one of my favorite flowers, I just love big pink beautiful flowers with their delicate scent. And I was so excited today when I stepped out into my garden and found my very first Peony of 2012 had bloomed.

Technically, there are 33 species of peony, but only two are commonly grown for cut flowers. They are also grown in a variety of colors including various shades of pink, purple, red, salmon, apricot, white, ivory/cream, yellow and bi-colors. The most common colors available are the various shades of pink and white. I have NEVER seen a purple peony. The flower forms include single, double, semidouble, Japanese (single with large yellow centers) and anemone (single with powder-puff centers). The double flower variety is the most common as cut flowers in the United States.

Peony are grown around the world and are typically available from April through August, with peak season hitting around April, May and June. Most white varieties bloom early in the season.

Peony require the typical processing, meaning when they arrive, give them a fresh cut, dip in hydrating solution and allow to sit for at least two hours before arranging with them. It is best to buy peony when they are puffy, not open yet. Watch out for overly tight buds, they probably won’t open for you.

Prolong Vase Life With This Simple Fix

Would you believe that you can prolong the life of your flower arrangements by using an every day household item? That’s right you can. These days every flower delivery comes with that special packet of flower food, but suppose you are doing your own arrangements? You’ve purchased your flowers, you’ve conditioned them, the vases are all lined up and ready to be filled and you realize that you didn’t think to pick up flower food.

Let every day household bleach come to your rescue. That’s right, just a little bit of bleach in each vase, anywhere from 3 drops to a 1/4 of a teaspoon depending on the size of the vase and you’re good to go. Your flowers will stay fresh longer than they would in just regular water. This is because bleach minimizes or kills the bacteria in the water.

Bacteria is the number one reason that flowers fade too quickly. Even if your vase is squeaky clean, the bacteria that may be in your tap water can cause stems to rot and flowers to fade much more quickly.

Unique Ideas for Arrangements

One of the fun things about creating flower arrangements is the wide variety of containers that can be used for holding those beautiful arrangements. I’ve actually created some fabulous arrangements using some unique containers, like my Daffodils in a Firetruck vase video or using a silver compote to hold an elegant arrangement for a dinner party, check out the previews here.

Using different types of containers can add a very special touch to any arrangement that you create. A recipe box, or pretty tea pot for example can be the basis to create a lovely arrangement for somebody’s kitchen. Craft stores are great places to find something unique to use for flower arranging. Metal tins have become very popular as well as collectable. They are also great for creating small arrangements that would be perfect on a desk top, a breakfast bar, even in a hospital room.

Candy jars, apothecary jars, even long fluted champagne glasses can be used to create something totally unique.   So the next time you’re thinking about creating a floral arrangement, wander through your local craft store and let your imagination help you find something wonderful to create it in.

Great Greenery Makes for Great Arrangements

You can design the most beautiful flower arrangement imaginable, but without the right greenery choice, it could fall flat. Think of greenery as if it were a picture frame, complimenting your arrangement. Color, shape and size are all very important factors when selecting the right greenery for your arrangements.

Color-Just because it’s called greenery does not mean that it is always green. Dusty Miller is a lovely silver grey color. Eucalyptus leaves are available in orange and red as well as a silvery green. Canna leaves are a lovely chocolate brown with a hint of green. A number of fillers can be purchased dyed. And the greens can range from yellow-green all the way to extremely dark green, depending on the type of greenery selected.

Shape and Size-This is very important to make sure that you have the correct balance between blossoms and greenery. You would not want to put large leaves with dainty flowers, such as daisies.

Vase Life – Greenery,unfortunately does not have the longest shelf life. If you are using leaves from your own garden, the best thing to do run a test by placing the cut greenery in a vase by itself to see how long it lasts. Greenery purchased from your local florist has already been chosen for a longer vase life so it can be a better choice.

Seasonal – Most greenery is available year round and will look work with any arrangement. You will, however want to avoid using evergreens, holly or autumn leaves except during the fall and winter season.

Spring Flowers – Anemone

Also known as the Wind Poppy, Windflower and Lily of the field, Anemones are actually related to the buttercup family. This dainty blooms measure between 2-3 inches in diameter and are available as single, semi double and double blooms. One of the few truly blue flowers, the Anemone is also available in several red and violet shades as well as white. The center of the blooms are usually black, but some of the white varieties have a lighter center, white, cream, light green or yellow. Their stems are leafless but there is a lacy collar of foliage right under the bloom itself.

Anemones are on the fragile since and do require some additional steps when preparing them for use in an arrangement. When purchasing them, make sure to get Anemones that are just starting to bloom with sturdy stems. Make sure to wear gloves when working with Anemones as they secrete an oil that may cause some skin irritation. Because they wilt easily, you will need to dip them in a hydration solution once you’ve recut the ends and then place them in water that has already been treated with flower food. It’s best to let them rest in that water in a cool place for about two hours before arranging them.

Longest Lasting Flowers

When creating a floral arrangement, you need to make sure that you use flowers that have a similar ‘Vase life’ so that you don’t have uneven aging in your arrangement.

Carnations and Chrysanthemums have a vase life of between one and 2 weeks. Lisianthus also have a good vase life, between 7 and 10 days. One of the greens that you could couple these with would be Bells of Ireland which also last between 7-10 days.

Iris however tend to be short lived, only 3-5 days of vase life. They usually arrive in tight buds and quickly open. Combining them with lilies or tulips will give you a good balanced arrangement. Make sure that the vase stays full and bacteria free. Amemone is another short vase life flower, generally lasting vrom 3-5 days. These lovely delicate flowers should be handled very carefully when being recut.

Some flowers, such as Callas, Alstroemeria and Dasies are particularly thirsty flowers so the you will need to make sure to keep the water levels in these vases high at all times.

And all cut flowers will do well with floral food which maintains the beauty of the arrangements and can sometimes help add an extra day or so to some of the more short vase life flowers.

The Importance of Vase Life

I get questions from time to time from my customers and from my readers about how to get their floral arrangements to last as long as possible. Each flower has a particular vase life, like a product shelf life, but there are a lot of things that can be done to extend that and to make sure that your fresh flower arrangements stay as beautiful as possible for as long as possible.

Naturally, always make sure that you get your flowers on the first possible day after they have been cut. Flowers start to age the moment the stems are cut. Depending on the flowers you are using in your arrangements, some of them may have come a long way to your local market. One of the best things you can do is find out when your favorite places to buy flowers gets their deliveries and then shop for what you want on that day. Most supermarkets, and floral vendors will mark flowers down as they are getting near the end of their vase life. That is a good fact to keep in mind if you are looking for flowers for a long lasting arrangement.

Adding a floral preservative and changing the water frequently in your vases will also improve vase life. One of the best things you can do is make sure to re-cut your blooms once you get them home with a good pair of floral shears, like those found in our FA101 Starter Kit. This will insure that the stems can easily take up water.

Next time I’ll be sharing with you some tips on which flowers last the longest.

Beautiful Dogwood Branches

I’m doing the HAPPY DANCE … saw my first of the spring white blooming dogwood tree yesterday…can’t wait to drive through the Fabulous Forties area and look at all the beautiful dogwood trees…I don’t know if I like the pink or white better. Such a stunning and beautiful specimen!  I would LOVE to have a dogwood tree in my yard, but I don’t have the right conditions…too much sun.

I only learned about Dogwood in the past 20 years. It wasn’t until I became a florist that I became aware of Dogwood. I LOVE this blooming branch more than any other. This is such a beautiful thing to look at. It is still a little early for Dogwood around here and probably in most parts of the country. I do see it available to ship from Oregon right now.

Sometime towards the end of this month I will start seeing it around here. When it is in bloom, I will often take a drive to where I know I can find these beauties on display. Everytime, I am just in AWE at their unbelievable beauty.

Sweet Cherry Blossoms

One of the wonderful things about spring is all the different flowering branches that can be used to create gorgeous arrangements. Cherry Blossoms with their delicate pink shading and light fragrant scent can help to create a fabulous spring centerpiece. Cherry Blossoms have five pedals that grow in clusters of four flowers. They have a fleeting bloom time, two to three weeks, starting towards the end of March and the beginning of April. But once they’ve blossomed, they only stay on the branches for about a week or so.

Decorating with flowering branches adds height and drama to centerpieces. If you are planning to display them alone, make sure to use a vase that is about half the height of the branches. Prepping flowering branches is different than preparing flowers for your centerpieces. If the branches you are using are thin, you should cut a lengthwise slit at the end of the branch. Thicker branches should have their ends mashed with a hammer to help facilitate their ability to take in water.

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