The quickest way to brighten a room isn’t changing the paint color on the walls, adding lighting, or rearranging the furniture. The fastest room makeover happens when you place a vase of flowers in a conspicuous spot. A simple bouquet brings color, beauty and the non-uniformity of Mother Nature to a man-made world. And that’s refreshing.
But not everyone feels like a budding genius at flower arranging. It’s an art, no doubt, but it’s an art that’s easier to master than you might think. We thought we’d share a few tips and tricks from our Soft Surroundings designers and stylists. They’re sure to help your inner arranger blossom.
The first pointer is to match the vase to the stems you want to display. In essence, don’t let the container be an afterthought. And almost anything that holds water can be a vase. We especially love using unexpected household items like canning jars, enamelware pitchers, or sugar bowls to show off an array of blooms.
There are basically four types of stems or flowers you’d use for an arrangement: woody stems, stiff-stemmed flowers, soft-stemmed flowers, and no stems at all.
Woody stems are favorites to display in the spring. At this time of year, these branches are often covered with petite flowers in vibrant colors. Examples are the sunny yellow petals of forsythia, the red-orange quince, the pink-white clouds of the cherry tree and the creamy-white dogwood blooms.
The trick with these woody branches is to use no more than three or four in the arrangement and it’s perfectly fine to use just one. Don’t overcrowd. Select cuttings that have an asymmetrical shape so the spray of flowers branches horizontally as well as vertically.
You’ll need a heavy vase or container for woody stems and it should be at least one-third as tall as the length of the branches. Something like our Vintage Glass Bottle would elegantly display a branch or two. And all three bottles in their range of sizes would make a gorgeous centerpiece, each with a spray of dogwood or cherry blossoms arching above the table.
If you use a more traditional vase for woody stems, you might want to put clear marbles in the bottom to help support and give the whole thing weight. The marbles also let you position the branches exactly where you want them—and keep them in place.
Don’t forget to trim the leaves and blossoms that fall below the water level. This will keep the arrangement fresher longer.
Roses, irises, mums and peonies are just a few examples of flowers that have stronger, stiffer stems, but they’re not as tough as the branches described above. We just love using glass hurricanes as vases for these beauties because the look is so classic and graceful.
Our two sizes of Galle Glass Hurricanes are perfect. The hand cut glass has a time-honored appeal, and a bouquet of roses or peonies cut short and placed inside is exquisite.
To create an arrangement of flowers like this, start by removing all but the top leaves. Cut the stems short and cluster three in your left hand. Add stem by stem with your right hand, as you turn the bouquet with your left. You’re layering the blooms so they have shape and impact.
Once you have the look you like, tied a rubber band or bit of raffia around the stems at the top near the flowers. Then cut the stems to similar lengths below the rubber band and place in the hurricane. Leave the band on the bunch if you want them to stay together tightly, or remove it to let them separate a bit. Either way is beautiful.
Flowers with soft stems, like tulips, jonquils and lilies, need vases that support them. Either choose a container that is at least two-thirds as tall as the stems, or trim the stems so only one-third pops above the rim of the vase.
Our French Engraved Vases are a great choice for soft-stemmed flowers because they are tall, stately cylinders with sturdy pedestal bases. Wisps of trailing ivy, fern fronds, and flowers are etched into the sides of these hurricanes. With a grouping of supple blooms, they do say French country like almost nothing else can.
In the heat of the summer, when soft, fluttering marigolds, bending wildflowers and fragrant rosemary are growing with abandon, we love to grab a haphazard handful and place them in very unexpected containers. As we said, mason jars are perfect for this, but don’t overlook anything. For example our delightful Expressions Tea Cups would be a hit with an assortment of trimmed asters, coneflowers or black-eyed susans inside.
We first introduced our glamorous hand-gilt Maison Hurricane at holiday time, but it’s just as breathtaking in full summer with one or two sunflower blooms cut short and perched inside. The interplay of gold etching with the vivid yellows and greens of the flowers might have made Van Gogh turn his head!
Floating Blooms and Flowering Houseplants
We have two final tips to help you make a pretty floral statement without much trouble. The first is floating blooms. There’s nothing quite like one gardenia blossom floating in an earthenware saucer on the corner of the bathtub, or a wild rose drifting in a porcelain sorbet bowl at bedside. Floating blooms are the most effortless way to add the beauty and color of nature. So rescue a single blossom on your next walk through the woods or meadow and give it a home.
Orchids and African Violets are one more way to add long-lasting blooms to your décor. Properly cared for, these two flowering houseplants will turn out in all their glory, time after time. Spotlight their beauty under glass, as with our Sabine Glass Sphere and Stand or our Clara Cloche and Stand.
We are always interested in hearing how YOU decorate and especially how you bring nature’s blooms inside and arrange them. Please comment below—we’d love to hear from you.