Bouquets have a reputation of being gifted on special occasions. The roses your husband sent to your office for your anniversary. The tulips your parents send you each year on your birthday. The peonies that made up your bridesmaid’s bouquet at your best friend’s wedding. Each arrangement is, in its own way, sentimental and beautiful, brightening your day, your desk or bedside table, and your general outlook with its sunny blooms.
Consider this: if special occasion flowers put a smile on your face whenever you receive them, why not create your own arrangement just because? Having something as optimistic as a sunflower in your immediate space is an easy way to invite simple beauty into your daily life. Flowers are a celebration—of life, of nature, of brave little moments of underappreciated beauty in the everyday. Get to really enjoy them by consciously bringing them into your home and spending some time making them into something beautiful. Instead of buying a prepackaged, cellophane-wrapped bouquet at your local market, take the time to create your own design, and enjoy every minute of the lost art of floral arranging as a respite from the hectic nature of your regular life.
Go To The Market
Local farmers markets are the best place to shop for the components of your will-be bouquets. The merchants that sell their blooms at these markets can introduce you to little known plants and flowers, like larkspurs and anemones, happily sharing their expert insights on seasonality, scent and anything you may be curious about. The flower assortment is wide, and the plants are most often freshly cut—check the stems you’re buying to ensure they’re not brown and mushy, but rather firm and green and/or white, which indicates freshness. More than anything else, take the time to enjoy the ceremony of what you are doing. Investigate unknown types of flowers. Ask questions and get to know the people that bring these plants to your neighborhood each week. Stop and literally smell the roses.
Decide On The Overall Look
Once you select your favorites, decide on the general look of your bouquet. Looking to make an impact with a few dramatic flowers? Choose irises or tulips, and leave the stems long for a tall, well-spaced arrangement. Want something smaller with just as much flair? Opt for big impact blooms, like hydrangeas or ranunculus, and plan to cut their stems short for a dense presentation in a shorter vase. And if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, mix and match whatever flowers you like and plan to stagger their heights for a natural look. You can choose groupings of types of flowers (tropical or local wildflowers, for example), colors (brights, pastels, monochromatics), or simply create an assortment of what looks beautiful to you. Add some greenery to “accessorize” your bouquet, and you’re set. Remember, there’s no such thing as a “wrong” bouquet. As long as it makes you happy, it’s right.
Prep The Arrangement
As soon as you get your flowers home, trim their stems to your desired heights. (If you’re planning on leaving them long, make sure to trim off about half an inch anyway—this exposes a fresh stem to the water that will be in its vase and increases how long the flower will stay alive.) Start arranging your bouquet by placing the most prominent flowers in your vase, then decorating around them with your smaller specimens and greenery. Be sure to rotate the vase often, making sure you like the look of your bouquet from all angles. If your stems aren’t staying still, use a rubber band around their base to keep them in order.
Nourish Your Blooms
After your flowers are arranged just-so, apply these tips to keep them looking their best for days to come. Remember that bacteria breed in vase water quickly, and lead to rotted stems and wilted flowers—keep your bouquet’s water supply fresh and bacteria at bay will a tablespoon of vodka or vinegar. Also important is nourishment. Flowers do well with a little sugar in their water, which you can supply with a shot of flat soda or 2 TB of sugar. Want the arrangement to last even longer? Change out your water and trim a tiny amount off each stem every other day to keep your arrangement fresh.
Delight In The Beauty
Now, for the most important part of the process: take a moment each time you see your bouquet and reflect on a positive thought. Think of the time that you spent picking its flowers, the new things you learned and the unexpected conversations you had at the farmers market. Be grateful that you took the time, that you had the time, to create something beautiful from scratch, and realize that while it may not perfect, it’s the perfect reminder to appreciate the little things that bring beauty into your life everyday.
Image via Frolic