Norman A. Plate
"The easiest floral arrangements to make are the ones that look like you lifted them right out of the garden," says Janelle Wiley, color specialist and floral design instructor at Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar, California.
To prove her point, Wiley demonstrates an "English border in a basket." To assemble it, you just stick the stems of large, showy flowers such as roses and Dutch irises into floral foam, then tuck smaller flowers around them. "If you've ever held a trowel, you can make a bouquet like this. Trust me--it's instinctive," Wiley says.
TIME: About 1 hour
COST: $12 for materials (not including flowers)
• One brick of florist's foam, 3 inches high, 4 inches long, and 9 inches wide*
• One green papier-mâché floral basket, 6 inches in diameter*
• One small roll of florist's tape*
• One package of sphagnum moss, at least 8 ounces*
• 3 feet raffia or string*
• Two stems of curly willow, at least 36 inches long
• 12 or more sprigs of ivy, rosemary, or other greenery with pliable stems
• 16 to 20 tall cut flowers, at least three of each kind (Wiley used both blue and yellow-and-white Dutch irises and pink roses)
• 16 or more shorter flowers (Wiley used white freesias, yellow button pompom chrysanthemums, and pink Geraldton waxflowers)
• Florist's scissors or hand pruners to trim stems as needed
*Sold at floral supply shops
1. Immerse the brick of florist's foam in water until thoroughly soaked, about 30 minutes.
2. Drain the brick and cut approximately 2 1/2 inches from its width. Push the brick partway into the basket; it will fit snugly. At least 1 inch of foam should extend above the rim. Firmly secure foam to basket with tape.
3. To conceal the papier-mâché, wrap spaghnum moss around the basket, tying it in place with raffia. Make sure the moss doesn't touch the foam or it will absorb water and possibly dampen a tabletop.
4. To form the handle, insert stems of curly willow into the foam on both sides of the basket, then weave the stems together at the top. Insert ivy stems into the foam on both sides of the basket and twine them around and through the curly willow. Insert additional ivy stems at the front and back of the basket to form a skirt to conceal the foam.
5. Place taller flowers in the basket first, grouping them by kind. Repeat the process with the shorter flowers, using the daintiest blooms to fill in the last few spaces.