Create beautifully untamed bouquets using finds from the wild or your own backyard
Johanna Silver, Leilani Marie Labong, and Debra Prinzing
1 of 23Photo by Thomas J. Story
Pro flower arranger Max Gill, of Max Gill Design, advises, "On a magenta clematis (C. ‘Madame Julie Correvon’), trim the longest stems of the lower leaves, place them into the vase, and let them spill down to the counter. Tuck in shorter stems, which twine together for support. Add cut flowers and buds last.”
2 of 23Photo by Thomas J. Story
“For this study in strawberries, cut just enough foliage for foundation and structure, then add the taller stems of immature alpine fruit and almost-ripe ‘Earliglow’ strawberries. If you can find them, add a few fleetingly pristine strawberry blossoms at the end,” suggests Max Gill, of Max Gill Designs.
3 of 23Photo by Thomas J. Story
Max Gill says, "Love-in-a-puff is my favorite weed—otherworldly, with tiny white flowers and chartreuse seedpods. I’ve found it growing from cracks in the sidewalk. Use the cuttings to arrange a ‘nest’ in the vase, then add the Rudbeckia (R. laciniata ‘Herbstsonne’). Finish by tucking in a few clusters of unripe ‘Sweet 100’ tomatoes."
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Max Gill designed this chocolate-and-mint bouquet. "For this fragrant composition, use herbs as a foil for chocolate cosmos, adding them in bunches of five to seven stems at a time. The mint geranium is the final touch; a botanical bow, if you will," he says.
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“Cut just a few flowers and buds from each marigold plant to make sure blooms keep coming,” Gill says of the sunny bouquet.
6 of 23Photo by Thomas J. Story
Max Gill explains, “I arranged cherry tomato stems in my hand before placing them in a bottle.”
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You have two choices – flowers or foliage. Actually, make that three choices – you can use them both in a mixed bouquet.
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Use foliage from any type of pittosporum as filler in a bouquet.
9 of 23Photo by Howard Rice / Getty Images
Mind the thorns, but we love the look of unripened berries in a summer bouquet.
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An all-lilac bouquet is possibly the most stunning—and fragrant—statement you can make. No other ingredients necessary.
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The feathery foliage adds a wispy feel to any arrangement.
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Yes, they’re a classic. But never underestimate the power of a single rose in a vase by the bed. And don’t forget to add rosehips to the mix as the season comes to an end.
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Whether still in bud, or as fully-opened purple thistle flowers, artichokes are great in a vase.
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This edible makes an unexpectedly great foliage addition.
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A sure sign that spring has arrived, bring daffodils inside to cheer up any room.
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Moody as can be, we love hellebores of any color as an element to an arrangement.
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The big leaves of chard—especially rainbow varieties—look great on display.
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Branches with white or orange-red flowers add height to an arrangement.
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Use just a stem mixed in with other flowers, or trim a larger brunch for a stunning display of its own.
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Oh so common in the garden, but oh so right in a bouquet. Silvery leaves are just the right touch.
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Leaves of green on one side, and silver on the other? Yes, please. They add texture and movement to any arrangement.
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Foraged bouquet tricks & tips
Tools. Floral designer Max Gill uses bonsai shears to make precise cuts (he always has a pair in his truck’s glove compartment). He transports larger clippings in square buckets, and smaller materials in mason jars placed in a box.
“Wow power” foliage and flowers. In Gill’s dynamic silhouettes, clematis (pictured) spills, fruit-heavy branches arch, and hellebores nod. He also loves black chervil (for its fernlike silhouette), as well as blueberry flowers and true geraniums.
Maintenance. Giving stem ends a sharp cut before placing them in clean water and displaying bouquets out of direct sunlight helps them last longer.
23 of 23Photo by David E. Perry
If you don’t have the flora you need at home, pick it up at one of these spots.
Arizona | Atelier de LaFleur. At this shop in Tucson’s historic train depot, owner Colleen LaFleur specializes in desert-adapted plants like cactus and native tree seedlings. lafleurplantscapes.com
California | Louesa. Trained in fine art, Louesa Roebuck finds beauty in the wild places around the Bay Area. At her mini shop tucked into San Francisco’s H.D. Buttercup, she sells local and foraged vines, branches, and blooms. louesaroebuck.com
Colorado | Field Florals. In Paonia, Ashley Krest cultivates some materials in her fields, while foraging others—such as chokecherries, goldenrod, and wild sweet pea—from her property. fieldflorals.com
Oregon | By the Bunch. Owner Rachel Galloway stocks her Portland shop with locally grown and foraged finds, which in early summer may include Equisetum, garlic scapes, and maidenhair ferns. bythebunchpdx.com
Washington | Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative (pictured). During public shopping hours on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., this alliance of Washington, Oregon, and Alaska farmers sells high-quality seasonal cuts. Buy a $5 day pass, and bring buckets for taking your picks home. seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com