from this. . .
to this . . .
I'm a firm believer that the little things make the big things. Sounds fairly simple spelled out and written in plain text but that does not take away from its truth. When you take the time to make the little things stand out, the big picture starts to look much, well, bigger.
Take for instance floral arrangements. While a floral subscription can run from a $50 to several hundred a month, nearly every major chain of grocery stores carries live flowers for less than a $1 per stem. While some brands (looking at you Trader Joe's) have a larger array and more sought-after stems than others, the premise is the same. You can take 20 bucks, a recycled glass jar or repurposed tin, sprinkle in an arm-full of yard clippings and make something magical for your dining table or console.
Start with the Basics
Believe it or not, a good floral arrangements starts with a good recipe, no different than cooking or baking your favorite meal. Think of the overall composition when you start building your arrangement. Are you using one major attraction with a lots of supporting roles or one superstar bloom repeated with lots of greenery to fill in gaps? When in doubt, let the budget and season drive the bus. How many of the statement stem do you have? What is currently in bloom? Once you decide on your general direction, lay everything out and get to work. In this arrangement, I opted to supplement the sunflowers I found at my local Winn-Dixie (yes, welcome to Mississippi) with these beautiful stems from my local florist.
Photo: stems from bottom left-right: myrtle stems, dill and round leaf eucalyptus.
Get to Work
Now that you've gathered your blossoms and greenery, a few more tools will help to stretch your flowers and your composition. The mechanics behind a good arrangement are limited really only to your imagination, but a good frog, tape or in this case, chicken wire, provide the necessary framework to keep flowers upright. I start with decent square of chicken wire and gloved hands. Next, ball the chicken wire into a pillow shape with lots of layers and little squares. Place this into the neck or opening of your vase along with some clean water mixed with floral food. In most cases, small packets of floral food additives are attached to your grocery store flowers. Make sure to save these and mix into your water according to the instructions found on the backs of the packet. Some flowers, like hydrangeas, may also benefit from having their freshly snipped ends dipped into alum. Helpful tip: Find alum in the spice aisle!
In addition to chicken wire and flower food, be sure to arm yourself with a really sharp pair of shears and a secateurs for those hardier stems and branches. Remove all the leaves from the lower portion of the stem--anything at the water line must go--and cut the ends of the stems at angle. Place your blooms immediately into the fresh water to keep blossoms looking their best.
Begin with a base of greenery, occasionally spinning your arrangement to check for gaps and to make sure to cover all the mechanics. Begin layering in your focal flowers and continue to add flowers and greenery until complete!
Picture Perfect Finish
Now that you're all done, be sure to replenish with fresh water or add fresh water throughout the life of your bouquet. Rotate your entire arrangement periodically if placed in full sunlight. Don't forget to enjoy!