It’s no secret that I love having fresh flowers in the house. My love for flowers started in childhood, it was something my mother valued but perhaps my confidence in selecting the ones I love is due to my great friend Anne from Charleston Stems who I have done so many creative projects with and learned from. Regardless, I am no expert at arranging flowers but, I do make sure to have a healthy rotation of cut flowers in the house. I love our access to the Charleston Wholesale Florist but also love shopping for flowers at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. And, for Charleston locals, I love SYG designs for arrangements beyond my ability!
I remember when I started to buy flowers from the wholesale shop, it was such a mystery. I didn’t know much about them beyond being able to recognize a standard garden rose, let alone how to make sure that I was keeping them alive for the maximum period of time and tending to them correctly. I was standing in the cooler at the wholesale florist here where I buy all my flowers now, and I bumped into one of my idols, Carolyne Roehm. She was so certain of herself as she went around selecting things I had never even dreamt of picking up — colors I hadn’t even entertained — and I watched it build like magic in her arms. It was there and then that I decided it is just all a matter of what you are drawn to, and a bit of bravery. Because I never place an order myself, I have to go with what is available. I walk in with an open mind and select the flower that I am most excited about and go from there. Oftentimes, it is something obvious like a peony or a ranunculus. I love lilac season and lily of the valley of course. Sometimes there are days like today where there is less obvious material available and you just have to go with it and give it a try, there is no failure if it’s just for you and I like adding something new to the mix to decide whether I want to work with it again or not.
For arranging flowers in this case, I went for clean whites and a bit of pink, and it’s hard to go wrong there…I love how silver Olive leaves are — I always try to select greenery for filler but stick with olive and eucalyptus for the most part (a safe choice I’m sure…) as I don’t love very bright greens. Stock isn’t something I use very often but it is great filler and can add a nice hue; I typically trim off the top bit of green to make way for more blooms which I find changes the whole appearance. I think it’s important to realize how much you can manipulate the flowers, I often shed lots of leaves and try to blow big blooms open. Some basic rules of practice for flower care are to cut the stems with you get home, to remove all the leaves that might fall below the water line and to put in fresh cool water, unless you want the flower to open more quickly in which case you can use warm. Of course every flower is different, and I am still learning so much.
I didn’t use it in this case, but chicken wire is a great thing to tuck inside your vessel. I learned this from the pros, but you just cut a piece and ball it up and it becomes the structure for the stems to lean in, allowing you to use less and not crowd or rely on each flower to hold the other up. I try to start with the greenery to create a base around the edges and then move along to the statement flower (say the peony) before filling in with the other whimsical pieces.