Tips from a Pro: Beautiful Bouquets
There were not nearly enough pages in our March issue to accommodate all of the bouquets floral guru, Christina Stemble of Farmgirl Flowers, put together from our cutting garden. We thought you might like to see the full line-up and hear some tips on arranging these beauties.
All photos above by Tom Story.
When it comes to floral arrangements, my favorites are always the ones that look less fussy and more organic—almost as if the flowers could have grown together in the vase. But pulling off that effortless field-to-vase feel to a bouquet can prove a bit more challenging than it looks.
When flower-guru Christina Stemble was in our photo studio arranging bouquets, I noticed she used a handful of useful tips and techniques that helped give that look of casual composition:
Start with an opaque vessel – You may have noticed that all of the vases Christina used were made of opaque materials (metal, ceramic, concrete, and a wooden box with a liner). Not being able to see a tangle of crossing stems brings the focus straight to the blooms. Plus, opaque containers can hide anything used for structure.
Establish structure – The key to pulling off an arrangement in an urn or any shallow vessel is to create enough structure to support top-heavy blooms and keep them from falling over the sides of the vase. Christina swears by balled up chicken wire dropped into the bottom of a container as an environmentally-friendly alternative to floral foam. Sprigs of foliage placed in the bouquet before the flowers also works well.
Vary flower forms – For each of the bouquets, Christina used a variety of flower shapes and sizes to add interest. An easy rule of thumb is to choose a “thriller”, a “filler”, and a “spiller”. For example, bold sunflowers (the thriller) mix well with tiny daisy-like feverfew (the filler) and trailing green amaranth (the spiller).
Pay attention to colors – I prefer warm-toned pinks like peach and coral to be separate from cool-toned pinks like rose or mauve. I’ve run this by friends and they think I’m crazy, but when I look at Christina’s bouquets, she’s put the hot coral zinnias in bouquets separate from the cool-toned lavender pink dahlias and cosmos. I rest my case. Take away: add flower colors that complement each other to your eye.
Add foliage – Adding lots of foliage to a bouquet makes it feel like a miniature garden and the rich greens show off the bright flower colors. Christina picked everything from spearmint to variegated pittosporum from our garden and brought silver dollar eucalyptus and holly leaf ferns from the flower market.
For more on flower arranging, check out an autumn bouquet from the Test Garden.