How to Create Flower Arrangements from the Garden
In these uncertain times, many of us are finding solace in the garden and nature. Beyond walking woodland trails or tending the garden, bringing nature into our homes through flower arranging can be a wonderful way to find joy. Despite not being able to create original arrangements for the Arboretum and Swarthmore College, our volunteer flower arrangers are continuing to create unique arrangements using plant materials from their home gardens.They have given us some tips to bring the beauty of the garden into our homes as well.
Kate Sevensky, a volunteer flower arranger, notes that creating these pieces “always brings me stillness and happiness.” She notes stopping to listen and letting “nature sing to you” provides a much needed break from the newscycle. Volunteer flower arranger, Margo Coffin-Groff notes she finds the beauty of nature uplifting. She finds comfort and beauty in the joy of discovery.
Here are some simple steps to help you bring this joy and peace into your home.
1. Discovery: Margo Coffin-Groff recommends wandering the garden and seeing what blooms or textures capture your attention. Once you have selected your first flower of interest, find a leaf/flower that contrasts your colors and textures. Repeat this process of selecting complementary materials until you have a collection of plant materials.
- Cut your stems as long as possible. You can trim them as you create your arrangement.
- Wander your garden with a bucket containing a minimal amount of water. As you take cuttings you can immediately add them to water.
- You don’t need to be a plant expert to select stems from the garden. Just pick what draws your eye.
- Do not be afraid to cut. Stems, leaves, and flowers all can look great in an arrangement
2. Containers: Once you have collected your materials, choose the best container for your plant material. For diminutive foliage and blooms, select a small container. For large dramatic pieces, select a larger container.
- Anything can be a container. Margo often gives away arrangements in clear seltzer bottles- elegant and upcycled.
- Consider where you are placing the arrangement. In tight locations, a small container is better. Larger, open areas allow for exuberant arrangements.
- Decide if you would like to see the stems, which would determine you need a clear container. If you would like to hide the lower portion of the plant material, choose an opaque container.
*Steps 1 and 2 are interchangeable. For example, Kate Sevensky often selects her location and container and then peruses her garden to find plant material that fits her container and the spot the arrangement will be showcased.
3. Preparing Material: Remove foliage from the lower portion of the stems. Foliage submerged in the water will just rot in the vase.
4. Design: Evaluate what style of arrangement you want. Will you only see one side or all sides?
- Start with the center or dramatic bloom or leaf. Cut this stem to height. All stems will fill in under and around this height.
- You can use a frog or wire mesh to hold stems in place. The mechanism will be hidden by the leaves of the stems.
5. Water: Fill your container with water and place it in your home to enjoy it.
- Check the container for water regularly.
- Some stems will wilt quickly, just remove them from the arrangement. You have done nothing wrong or in error if they wilt in a day. Some plants just don’t hold up well as cut flowers. It is a trial and error process.
- Once your arrangement begins to wilt, compost it and create a new one. Arrangements are ephemeral and meant to be enjoyed in the moment.
Both arrangers noted this is meant to be a fun, creative process. You are designing this for your own enjoyment and there is no wrong way to create an arrangement from your garden. Give yourself grace and enjoy the process. Bringing the magic of nature into your home will put a smile on your face every time you look at the beauty from the garden.