Some expert tips and step by step instructions to make flower arranging easy

By Leslie Massey Published: December 21, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

dding an arrangement of fresh-cut flowers, whether from a garden or a local florist, is a great way to jazz up any d?or. Following a few expert tricks can help your display be even more breathtaking.

"Back when I first got started in this business," said Wayne Smith, a designer at Skyway Creations (www.skywaycreations.com), "there were a lot of rules about flower arranging."

Some of those rules included making the arrangement 21/2 to 3 inches higher than the container; always working with odd numbers of blooms; using something as the primary center of interest and so on. "But now days," said Smith, "you can do almost anything you want."

Consider the mood of what you are creating the arrangement for, but "don't be afraid to add color," he said. "You can even use just a flower or two and make it look good by adding twigs and greens."

Smith also mentioned there are a lot of ways to use color. "Some people like to use contrasting colors, or all pastels," he said. "You can use different shades of one color, a mix of soft subtle colors, or a mix of bright vivid colors."

In other words, you're the only one who knows what will look best to you.

Also, keep in mind bigger is not always better. One of Smith's favorite design methods is ikebana, a Japanese art of flower arrangement. One aspect of ikebana is minimalism, using only a small number of blooms combined with stalks and leaves.

A common myth about flower arranging is that you must only handle flowers by their stems.

"Flowers are tougher than people think," Smith says. "Obviously, some need more delicate handling than others: White flowers bruise easier and show creases, while dark flowers do not."

Depending on the type of flowers used, arrangements can last a minimum of six to seven days. To keep them fresh as long as possible, Smith said it's important to rinse off the stems and clean out the container every day.

"Clean the vase with soap and water rather than just rinsing it out," he said. "Bacteria builds up quickly and gets on the stems."

He even suggests adding a drop of two of bleach to a quart of water to keep bacteria away. He also noted that one baby aspirin works well to keep flowers fed while in the container.

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