Norman A. Plate

A do-it-yourself floral arrangement

Kathleen N. Brenzel,  – November 3, 2004

What’s your valentine’s pleasure? Long-stemmed red roses from the florist? Camellia blossoms or branches of sweetly scented Chinese witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) from your garden? Or your own mix-and-match arrangement of flowers purchased at the local grocery store?

Any bouquet can bring a smile to your valentine’s face. And if you arrange the flowers yourself (a less expensive proposition than a florist’s creation), you’ll have a guaranteed heart-warmer.

Here are tips to make your bouquet a standout.

• Match the flower colors to the vase. For the arrangement pictured above, we chose a square vase of red glass, then bought flowers to match. Red tulips echo the color of the vase; pink tulips and white Queen Anne’s lace fill in around them. Pink Oriental lilies splashed with red add punch, and variegated ‘Needlepoint’ ivy softens vase edges.

• Mix flower sizes and shapes. Buy or cut the bulk of your flowers in smaller sizes for the support cast, and use as few as three or four stems of larger flowers (such as Oriental lilies) as the stars.

• To prolong the lives of the flowers, plunge their stem ends into a bowl of hot water, keeping them submerged as you cut off the stem ends with pruning shears (make diagonal cuts).

• Arrange the ivy fringe first, then the supporting cast of flowers, and finally the stars.