10 expert tips for creating a sensational spring flower arrangement.
By Maria Allen - Photography by Kate Rogan
After a long, cold winter, one of the best ways to celebrate the arrival of spring is by filling your home with the color and sweet fragrance of fresh flowers. Depending on the blooms that you choose, flowers have the power to increase the peace and serenity in your living spaces or spark a little excitement and lighten the mood. A beautiful bouquet also makes an ideal gift for a friend or relative who may need a little encouragement or support.
Professional floral designers like Meryl Lee Pinette, owner of Merrily Blooms in Scituate, take great care to customize floral arrangements to suit their clients’ needs.
“Floral design is an art form for me,” says Pinette, who views every event and special occasion as an opportunity to flex her creative muscles. “I’m always looking for different ways to design and love experimenting with new flowers. Right now, I’m really enjoying creating larger statement pieces.”
Pinette has always had a passion for flowers. Three years ago, she decided to leave her corporate job and launch her own floral design business, specializing in gorgeous one-of-a-kind arrangements. Until the pandemic hit last spring, Pinette was also holding hands-on classes, creating a sense of community around the art of flower arranging. “Working with flowers is so therapeutic,” says Pinette. “You can totally immerse yourself in creating something beautiful. And since no two stems look alike, what you design really is unique every time.”
When COVID-19 restrictions made in-person events impossible, Pinette persevered by pivoting her business to focus more on delivery and creating custom arrangements for micro-sized weddings, birthdays, recitals, bereavements and other life occasions. Even in challenging times, Pinette is thankful to be bringing joy to people’s lives and making the world just a little more beautiful.
Source by the Season
We are lucky to live in an area with great local flower farms and in the summer and fall I would definitely recommend treating yourself to a visit to one of my personal favorites, Cross Street Flower Farm in Norwell. However, if you’re sourcing flowers for a do-it-yourself spring flower arrangement, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are definitely where it’s at.
Best Spring Varieties
Begin by selecting a rock-star flower that you really like (parrot tulips are perfect for this time of year), a filler flower (roses or lisianthus are great) and something to add structure and dimension (snapdragons or hyacinth are ideal for this). You’ll also want to pick out some greens and a finishing detail flower that is a little unexpected that will add a different texture (ranunculus are a favorite because they add a soft feminine flair). Make sure the flowers you choose are firm and standing upright to ensure that they’re at peak freshness.
Choose Your Blooms
If you’re going the grocery store route, skip the premade bouquets. Instead choose 3-5 varieties of flowers (including one greenery option). Your eye will likely gravitate to a particular flower. Let that bloom be the inspiration for your overall design. A monochromatic color palette makes for a polished and sophisticated look. A multicolor arrangement will have a more relaxed fresh-from-the-garden look and feel. Go with what suits your personality and your home.
Pick Your Vessel
The container you use to display your flowers doesn’t have to be conventional. I love using old candle holders, for example. Choose an opaque vessel if you don’t want to see the “mechanics” of the stems or the water as it gets dirty. You can also arrange flowers in multiple smaller vases if that would be better suited to the area where you plan to display the flowers.
Prepare Your Materials
Use the flower food packet that comes with the bunches of grocery store blooms and dissolve in cold water to prolong the life of the flower (use warm water if you need the blooms to open more). Prep your flowers by removing any leaves that would hit the water line (and add bacteria) and remove any petals that are looking less than perfect.
Display Your Work
Place flowers in the rooms where you spend most of your time. For me that most commonly means on my fireplace mantle in my living room, or in the kitchen where we’re all spending a lot of time these days. Another good option is to add flowers where there’s a space in your home that needs some color. I love adding a small bud vase to my bathroom sink, because you can never have too much beauty in a bathroom.
Never wait for someone else to buy you flowers. That’s my biggest rule! We don’t need to ask permission or wait for an occasion to treat ourselves to some beauty. We’ve learned this year that life is short, so go ahead and buy yourself flowers. Or call in the professionals to put something really special together for you to enjoy, and support a small local business in the process.
Now comes the fun part—designing your floral arrangement! Begin by placing your greens in your vase and then move from the hardiest flowers to the most fragile, which you’ll use as visual accents at the end (along with adding a few more pieces of greenery). Cut each flower stem at a 45-degree angle and vary the heights of the flowers to add dimension. To ensure a natural look, make sure there is some “spillover” of your flowers or greenery over the sides of the vase and clusters with a few of the same type of bloom together. Lastly, if the flowers are looking too flat, make small adjustments by pulling stems out of the arrangement a bit to add more height.
Everything in its Place
If you’re using a larger vase, flowers may start to shift as you work. To solve this problem, you can set up your vessel with something to prevent your blooms from moving around. My favorite trick is to cut a small piece of chicken wire, loop it around and wedge it into the top of the vase. This adds support while giving you holes to place the blooms in. Determine whether your arrangement needs to look good from all sides or if it will be a front-facing bouquet. If you’re doing a centerpiece, for example, and need the flowers to look good from all sides, be sure to turn your arrangement regularly as you work.
Keep Them Fresh
Check water levels daily, especially during the first 1-2 days when the flowers will take in the most water. Remove flowers as they die to prevent bacteria in the arrangement and keep your flowers away from direct sunlight and heat for lasting freshness.