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Friday, November 11, 2016


In my last post about Restore House, I mentioned a retreat that I attended last month.  Other than hearing from the Parkers about their passion of restoring houses and running their store and event center, we also spent some time learning from darling sisters who run their own florist shop, called The Wild Mother.

flower arranging, how to arrange flowers, flower tips and tricks

They shared for about an hour and walked us through step by step how they plan for an arrangement and the process of assembling a show-stopping arrangement, and they were specifically focused on using what is the most accessible to all of us, grocery store flowers.  Here's one that they put together for us as they were speaking.  I think it's interesting how modern arrangements are veering away from everything being done in a perfect mound where it's symmetrical and proportionate all the way around.  Now many styles are leaning towards a longer spreading arrangement with a more haphazard (yet somehow still perfect) style.

flower arrangement, dahlias, how to arrange flowers, flower tips and tricks

I was eating up everything the shared, and taking notes furiously so I could share with you, too!

Tips when selecting flowers:
- Think about the space the arrangement will be in.  Where will it go?  Will it be against a wall or in the center of a table?
-What is the occasion (shower? party? holiday?)?
-Note the season you're in.
-Decide the color scheme you'd like to use.  Is there a theme to work with?
-Take a bucket with some water in it with you, even in the store.
-Know your grower or grocery store florist and ask what days fresh flowers arrive at the store.
-Ask ahead of time what's coming in and how much there will be.  Special orders might be possible even from the grocery store.

Tips for arranging:
-Make sure that your vessel and all tools/cutters are clean.  Bacteria shortens the life of the flower.  Clean work space and clippers often with a bit of bleach to kill any bacteria.  Clean vessel well in the same manner after each use.
-Use chicken wire in the vessel to help give shape to the arrangement.  Secure the wire around the edges with oasis tape (waterproof-I found some at Hobby Lobby).

-Always use the flower food that comes with the flowers.  Although there are many opinions here, The Wild Mother girls recommend using lukewarm, room temperature water in your vessel.

-Start with foliage as the base.  Snip to desired length and remove all leaves that will be below the water line to limit the growth of bacteria.  This will help your arrangement last longer.

-Begin with foliage, but leave space for additional blooms.  Keep building the base with a variety of foliage.

Add in flowers, larger first.  Clustering them adds to the impact.  Your eye should be drawn to one certain place, but then travel around to the rest of the arrangement (just like decorating a room).

flower arranging, floral arrangement, how to arrange flowers

At this point I knew I needed more flowers for the center.  It took me a several days from when I bought the flowers until I started arranging them, and meanwhile a few of the orange marigolds had died so that left me a little short.   I was crunched for time and wasn't able to run to a store and look for more.  So, like I often do, I grabbed my clippers and headed out our back gate in search of something that might work for filler.

Do you believe that God cares about even the tiniest, seemingly insignificant details in your life?  I do!  And He reminded me of that as I was working on this arrangement of all things.

I walked for a while and was just not seeing anything usable, everything back there was already too far gone for the Fall and there was nothing at all with color.  As I was heading back toward the house empty handed, a burst of orange over to the side caught my eye.  I made my way over to it, and apparently a neighbor had recently cleaned out all of their cannas for the season and tossed them all over their back fence.

Y'all.  They were orange.  And, I don't know how long they had been cut and laying there in that discarded pile, but they were still fresh enough to use!  See that one right in the center at the top?  That's one of them!  Our God, the creator of the universe, cared that I spotted the perfect, cast aside flowers laying among tall, dried up grasses to add to an arrangement for my Thanksgiving table.  Amazing.  How much more does He care about the really important things in our lives?

how to arrange flowers, thanksgiving flower arrangement, sunflowers, flower tips and tricks

Even though there were still some pretty orange blooms, most of the stems had dried up sections and pods on them too, which I LOVED and thought they added interest and something special to the arrangement.  Actually, several of the flowers I added, including a few orange zinnias from my flowerbed, ended up leaning towards the almost dead side, and I really liked that for this Fall arrangement.  It seemed appropriate for the season.

thanksgiving flower arrangement, flower tips and tricks, how to arrange flowers

A few extra tips:
-If the buds are still closed up a bit, blowing on them gently (to simulate the wind) helps them to open up a little.
-If roses are tightly closed, they can be gently manipulated in the center with your fingers to encourage opening up.
-Don't overlook or leave out buds or pods that haven't opened up yet, they add beautiful detail and contrast to the arrangement.

-For flowers with a strong contrast color on the center of their face (like anemones, sunflowers, etc.) pay attention when you're placing them together that they don't look like eyes staring out.  :)
-Use a wooden skewer (or 2) for adding fruit or pretty vegetables to arrangements.
-If your garden is full of basil, rosemary, or other pretty herbs, add some in!

Thanksgiving table setting, flower arrangement
See more of my Thanksgiving table here

When you think you're finished, walk away for a while.  Come back and look at it again with fresh eyes, making tweaks if anything is glaring.

To maximize the life of your arrangement, it needs maintenance every 2-3 days.  Remove the stems, trim about an inch off the bottom, change the water and add new floral food.

Now, I realize my version isn't nearly as stunning as our inspiration from The Wild Mother, but their tips were really helpful to think about as I worked, and as they say... practice makes perfect!  I hope these tips are helpful as you prepare for the holiday season.

If you're local to OKC and ever need a florist, be sure to check out The Wild Mother, and follow them on Instagram here.  I'm also loving following these three ladies who I heard speak at the BHG Stylemaker event, you might enjoy them for floral inspiration, too.  @francespalmer  @floretflower @emilythompsonflowers

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Great post and tips, your arrangement is perfect and yes, I love that God cares about everything, even a floral arrangement.

  2. Such a beautiful fall arrangement Jennifer! I love the tips and the dish is spectacular for this tablescape.

  3. God is so good! You reminded me to watch the video of their talk - it was soo good. Now I'm on the lookout for vessels for our Thanksgiving tables! I love arranging flowers - haven't done it in a long time. I like the new shapes of things. Excited to give it a try!

  4. Great tips! I am filing away your post for future reference. Your arrangement is really lovely, as is the whole table.

  5. Help! I have that same cabbage bowl but I bought it from someone and don't know where it originally came from. Do you know the company? Thanks!!

    1. Sure! They're made by a company called Bordallo Pinheiro. Here's the affiliate link I used in my Thanksgiving table post if you want to read a little more about it- I've gathered most of my pieces from Ross, TJ Maxx, and HomeGoods, and Tuesday Morning. If you keep an eye out they'll have pieces occasionally.

    2. Sorry, I missed that you'd linked to it. I'd seen the name on the bottom but never googled it because I'd figured it was just some random piece that I'd never find. I had no idea they cost what they did...I paid $8 for mine!


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