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Fresh Floral Arrangements
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have fresh, fragrant, long-lasting flowers on our tabletop every day? Well,it’s possible, even on a budget, to put together creative centerpieces with fresh flowers culled directly from our own gardens.
Whether you have the space and the ability to grow your own flowers, or purchasing them from your local florist, there are a few simple tips that will ensure your flowers will last as long as possible. When you cut flowers from your garden, cull them early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and then quickly place them in a bucket of cool water. Heat will zap the life out of cut flowers more than anything. If you’re choosing cut flowers from a market, pick only bright flowers that are just starting to open. Get your flowers home as soon as possible and let them revive in a bucket of water kept in a cool place.
When you’re ready to make your arrangement, make sure your vase is completely clean. Bacteria in vases will affect the water uptake to the flower stems. You should change the water in your vase daily, or at least every other day, to prevent bacteria growth. Adding a floral preservative to the water helps the flowers last longer.
When cutting the stems, cut on an angle an inch or two up the stem, using a clean tool, and remove any leaves that will be below the water’s surface so they don’t rot and add bacteria to the water.
Some great choices for flowers that can last up to two weeks are carnations, delphiniums, lilies, roses, birds of paradise, belles of Ireland, and sunflowers. Try to keep your fresh flower arrangements away from direct sunlight and from cold and hot drafts that come from a vent.
Other Garden Gems
Obviously, growing your own flowers can cut down on the expense of buying fresh flowers for your table. Some easy to grow/easy to cut flowers are bachelor’s buttons, corn cockle and larkspur. But there are other items that come straight from the garden (or your local grocer) that can make amazing arrangements.
Consider filling clear containers with colorful items picked from your own garden or easily picked up from local markets. Try blueberries, cranberries, key limes, lemons, habanera peppers or even non-organic items such as seashells and colorful marbles. The key here is color. You can even uses these items to anchor a few fresh cut flowers, which cuts down on the number of stems you need to fill out a great arrangement. Simply insert a smaller glass tube inside a large vase, put the flowers in the inner vase with water and surround it with the filler material. Another way to make the most of a smaller floral arrangement is to place mirrors a mirror underneath the vase to make the centerpiece appear larger.
Even if you have only a few flowers, a small potted plant, or trying something as simple and inexpensive as fresh fruit, a creative container can make all of the difference. You don’t need an expensive cut crystal vase to make a stunning centerpiece. Often, simpler more personal items are perfect for expressing your personality while sprucing up your décor.
If you’re bringing items in from the garden, show your gardening pride by carrying a ‘green thumb’ theme to the table. Put fresh flowers or pot a plant in a tin watering can that you can either leave charmingly rustic or paint to match your mood. Really, almost anything can be a vase – decorative tea pots, colorful water pitchers or antique medicine or perfume bottles (carefully cleaned out, of course).
After the Party
Don’t confine your creativity by thinking that the centerpiece for your dinner party has to be one large floral bouquet in a vase. As we illustrated earlier, containers come in all shapes and sizes. Picture creating a tablescape that is a collection of smaller arrangements, which not only leave a lasting impression on your guests, but can be separated and scattered throughout your home to enjoy long after the party. Use antique teacups or sleek white egg cups to hold large individual flowers or a few smaller flowers held in place by a small round metal “floral frog.” Fill the cups three-quarters of the way with water, and as with other arrangements, change the water daily to extend its life. You can group the cups together on a cake stand, or place one at each table setting to give each guest their own personal arrangement.
Regardless with what you do, just remember to have fun exploring your creativity.