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Arranging flowers from your garden

By Cynthia Overbeck Bix and Philip Edinger

Sunset Books 2002

5 15 37 95


Fresh From the Garden Bouquets on Stage - All the Garden’s a Stage - Rooms in Bloom


Designing with Flowers Flower-filled Rooms - The Nature of Flowers - Beautiful Containers - Creating Flower Arrangements - Tools, Tricks, and Techniques Flower Arranger’s Corner


Flower Arranging Season by Season Daffodil Twist - Spring Enhancements - Springtime Medley - Petite Treasures - Bold-color Bouquet - A Garden on your Table - Zinnias by the Bundle - Romancing the Rose - Old-fashioned Posy - Classics Revisited - Rainbow Bouquet - Summer Dazzlers - Stately Stems Late Bloomers - Harvest Bounty - Autumn’s Riches


Gardens for Cut Flowers What Kind of Garden? - Raised Beds - Planting Techniques - Caring for the Garden - Harvesting and Conditioning - Roses - Leaves, Berries and Branches - Cut and Dried - Plans for Cutting Gardens

The best marriages of rooms and floral arrangements are based on reading the ambience and style of a room and using flowers to enhance both. It helps to think of the flowers and vase as a parcel of your decor like wallpaper and upholstery.

Fresh from the Garden Whether blooming out of doors or gracing the rooms in your home, flowers seem to make life better– more colorful, more pleasant, more serene. As a gardener or a garden lover, you enjoy the way flowers combine with their surroundings. You step back and see them as one facet of a larger picture, a living landscape painting that includes the sky, green trees and lawns, and fences or house walls of wood, brick or stone. When you bring the same blooms indoors, though, you enjoy them in a different way. A bouquet in a vase is like a still life. You tend to look closely, savoring the blossoms’ special qualities: their colors and textures, even the shapes of their stems.

Anything Goes: Mix styles, color, sizes – your cutting garden doesn’t have to follow a script. When beautifully arranged, almost any kind of flower has star potential.

Enhancing Your Home with Flowers Every room in the house comes alive when you fill it with flowers. A large dramatic bouquet can be the focal point of a room; a small, understated one can be a subtle surprise. Large or small, bold or dainty, in a group of standing alone, bouquets of blooms say. “Welcome.” Places for Vases” The place for flowers in your house is... anywhere. A fireplace mantel is a natural stage for a trio of simple bouquets in pastel ceramic vases; the corner of a sink is a not-so-obvious but equally appropriate spot. In any room, a tall arrangement like the flowering quince supplies an instant focal point and conversation piece.

Rooms in Bloom


Bring fresh flowers indoors, and a kind of magic happens. From casual den to elegant dining area, any room in the house comes to life with the colors and scents of the garden.

plement a room’s color scheme or dominant colors – those of wallpaper and paint, upholstery, window treatments, and so on. Another approach

Flower-Filled Rooms

is to pick up or complement the col-

The colors in your flower arrangements should be as personal

ors of objects in the room, such as

as those you’ve chosen for curtains, carpeting, or sofa. In your

decorative glass ceramic pieces or a

garden, you have doubtless assembled a living palette of favorite

particular painting. When you’re

flowers in the colors you love, and these will form the backbone

selecting flowers for a dining table

for your arrangements. Of course, the available palette changes

or buffet, the dishes may provide the

with the seasons, expanding your choices throughout the year and

color cue.

allowing you to vary the feel of your rooms as the months go by. Any case, you can’t go wrong in choosing flowers that match or com-


It is possible to make beautiful arrangements using only one or two flower types. But if you want to create an arrangement incorporating some of many types, begin by placing the tall, spiky flowers first, to establish height and line.

Designing with Flowers Bringing the beauty of blossoms and foliage from your garden into your home doubles the rewards of growing flowers. You get to enjoy the sights, scents, and colors of your borders and beds any day, any time, anywhere in the house. A bouquet of creamand-pink roses gathered at the peak of perfection lends an atmosphere of luxury and romance to a bedroom; a single jaunty sunflower on the kitchen table perks up a family supper. Gracing the sideboard in the dining room, an elegant assembly of glorious daisies, brilliant cotoneaster and hospitality.

Whites and Creams Roses, lilies, freesias, lilacs, hyacinths, carnations, hydrangeas, peonies, tulips, amaryllis, gladioli, alliums, agapanthus, stock, stephanotis, tuberose, gardenia, lily of the valley, delphiniums

Yellow Roses, lilies, freesias, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, ranunculus, carnations, eremurus, gladioli, honeysuckle, gerbera, iris, narcissus, snapdragons, dahlias

Orange/Red Roses, lilies, carnations, gerbera, gladioli, tulips, marigolds, sterlitizia, poppies, carthamus, celosia, banksia, dahlias, leucospermum, amaryllis, tulips, peonies, heliconia

One of the things I love most about flowers is the huge spectrum of colors that are on offer, from dramatic, moody red and purples to luscious candied pastels to flawless, ethereal whites. When deciding on a color theme for a design or an occasion, it is helpful to know exactly which flowers are available and in which color. And whether arranging flowers at home or putting together gifts in this book, I find that experimenting with color is one of the most creative parts of the process.

Pink Roses, carnations, lilies, ranunculus, amaryllis, peonies, tulips, phlox, stock, proteas, hyacinths, gerbera, gladioli, freesias, celosia, orchids.

Purple/Mauve Roses, carnations, delphiniums, hyacinths, alliums, asters, agapanthus, orchids, iris, dahlias, tulips

Color Swatches

Blue/Green Roses, ranunculus, carnations, amaranthus, tulips, orchids, lilies, chrysanthenemums, brassicas, delphiniums, aconitum


Essential Equipment Florists’ tape Shown here is Oasis tape– a sturdy tape used to hold floral foam firmly in a container. Other types of florists’ tape are available. The thinner tape is used for covering wires for bridal or funeral work. It comes in rolls and is available in white, green, and brown. There are several brands available, but I prefer gutta percha.

Spool Wire Fine wire is available on spools and is used to support and strengthen delicate flowers, such as lily of the valley, or single leaves that require support to maintain their form or hold them in place. The wires shown above are heavier, and mainly used for decorative work or holding moss in place in wreaths and other arrangements.

Twine and String String or twine is used for binding flowers together in a hand-tied bouquet. It’s also used to bind moss to a frame. I like to use Oasis Bindwire. It looks just like twine, but is in fact a paper-covered wire that holds flowers together effortlessly.

Florists’ Wire Wiring strengthens and supports flowers. Fine wire begins at 32–34 gauge and is cut into 15cm lengths. The 56-gauge wire is more supportive, while 71-gauge wire is stronger again, and is the most commonly used. Stronger, thicker 90–gauge wire is used to support heavy items such as fruit, pine cones, or larger flowers.

Pearl-Headed Pins These are perfect for finishing the ribbon-covered handles on bridal bouquets, or holding in place leaves that have been wrapped around a group of stems. They can be purchased in a variety of colors, so can even become a major part of the design.

Pruners Pruners are so useful when it comes to tackling strong stems– you’ll find them invaluable if you’re cutting woody foliage or other tough stems.

When it comes to working with flowers, there are a few basic items that you’ll use over and over again, some of which are illustrated below. Apart from these items, I think the most important thing has to be a good pair of florists’ scissors– sturdy little devils that grip onto the flower stem as you cut. Some people prefer to use pruners, and if you’re creating enormous displays, you probably will need one to slice through tough branches.


Classic Flat 9 x stems alliums 10 x stems salvia leucantha 3 x eucalyptus 8 x stems Cool Water roses, stripped of their lower leaves 3 x ornamental cabbage heads 2 x purple-tinged hydrangea heads spool of twine

This hand-tied arrangement is an updated version of the traditional “flat� bouquet. The flower stems are left long, so the flowers can either be displayed as they come, or may be re-arranged by the recipient. Flat bouquets are the ideal gift for friends who enjoy arranging flowers.

Bouquet 1. Begin by taking three stems or

center. Tie together, two-thirds

more rounded, flowerlike effect.

allium and grouping them together

of the way down the stems.

4. Now place the two ornamental

so the heads are staggered in height.

3. Place the roses and the

cabbages on top of the other

Cut a length of twine and tie them

remaining alliums on tope of the

flowers, toward the center.

together two-thirds of the way down

hand-tied bunch, with five roses

Finally, add the hydrangea heads,

the stems. This forms the backbone

on one side of the bouquet and

placing them just below the

for the bouquet, so its important to

three on the other. With a flat

cabbages. Now grasp the stems

choose flowers with strong stems.

bouquet, the idea is to display

tightly toward the bottom and tie

the flowers rather than arranging

them all securely in place. Neatly

2. Add three stems of salvia and

them, so the taller pieces should

trim the ends into a “wheatsheaf�

eucalyptus to the bunch of alliums,

be at the back and the shorter,

shape. The bouquet is now

placing the salvias on one side and

larger-headed pieces at the font.


the eucalyptus on the other. Make

Take the ornamental cabbages and

sure the foliage curves away from the

gently open out the leaves for a


Color and Pattern A container may echo a room’s patterns and colors in various ways. In a sitting room with chairs upholstered in flowered rose-and-pink chintz, for instance, you might choose a china vase with a pattern of pink roses and fill it with cream-colored tulips. In a room with lots of bright colors and interesting patterns, you might select a solid-colored ceramic

pitcher in one of the hues and

or a clean-lined contemporary

fill it with multi-colored flowers.

vase, whether it is clear or

Going for contrast and accent is

translucent, or tinted, glass

another possibility.

is always beautiful. It’s also

Container Materials

adaptable, complementing

Gleaming silver, rustic pottery,

usually blending with any decor.

tinted glass– you can choose from a huge variety of container materials. Following a survey on the impressive array available. Glass: whether is takes the form of an antique cut-glass pitcher

almost any arrangement and

Beautiful Containers


In any arrangement the flowers are only half of the picture. The container is of equal importance, helping to set the tone of an arrangement and connect it to its surroundings. A container’s material gives it its basic style. Gleaming silver and fine porcelain are naturally elegant, for example, while galvanized metal and rough-textured earthy pottery are inherently casual and countrified.

Before you begin to arrange your flowers, place the empty vase or container where you want the finished arrangement to go– on your foyer table or mantel, for example. If the vase looks good and is in proportion to the room, the arrangement will look good.

Choosing Container Shape There are six different container shapes, and all will be described briefly below. Flared or trumpet shaped containers are narrow at the bottom than it is at the top with a gracefully flared neck. Cylinder vases have the same narrow diameter all the way through, this versatile shape is useful for holding soft-stemmed flowers upright. Globe vases are attractive but can be tricky to you. Cube vases have a square neck and requires a lot of flowers to look full. Bowl vases are low and wide, best for floating flowers. Bottles have a narrow neck and only allows one or two stems.


To freshen cut violets or hydrangeas, submerge them, flowers and all, in cold water for a minute or so. Lift out and give a gentle shake or two. The wrap violets in damp paper towels. Leave in cool dark place overnight before arranging.

Arranging Season by Season Every garden season has its glories. From the spring’s dainty buds and delicate, newborn colors to summer’s riot of floral forms and hues, from autumn’s rich leaf and flower tones to winter’s dramatic contrasts, Nature offers beauty in endless variety. At any time of the year, you can create lovely arrangements of flowers and foliage that will bring your rooms alive with the colors, scents, forms and textures of the season.

This lavish arrangement shows off one of the spring’s sprightliest bulbs in striking fashion. Above the vase’s neck, a dome of ruffled golden trumpets glows like sunlight; below, the flowers’ fresh green stems, coaxed into a gentle swirl, provide a fascinating linear element. Before arranging the blooms, be sure to condition the stems as described.

1. First decide how high above

2. To begin creating the twist,

3. Gently drop the bouquet

the vase the flowers should be by

take 10 to 12 stems. Holding

into the vase; the stems should

holding a small bunch of them

them about halfway down their

fall into a crisscross pattern.

next to or inside the empty vase.

length, lay half of them across

To emphasize the spiral effect,

Then fill the vase with water.

your palm in one direction; then

gently lift the whole bunch by the

Now you’re ready to cut the

lay the other half in the other

stems, easing the stems around in

flowers to length. Working with

direction to form an X pattern.

a circle. Then add more flowers

a few at a time, use hand pruners

Continue to add more stems a

to fill out the arrangement.

to cut all the stems to the length

few at a time, some going one

Carefully insert them one at

you’ve chosen.

way, other going the other, until

a time, following the pattern

the bunch gets too large to hold.

you’ve already created in the vase.

Daffodil Twist Creating Drama


Spring Blossoms

and stems


Any soil can be rated according to their pH of 7 are neutral, neither acid nor alkaline; those with a pH below 7 are acidic, while those above pH 7 are ranging from moderately acid to slightly alkaline.

Gardens for Cut Flowers Every garden season has its glories. From the spring’s dainty buds and delicate, newborn colors to summer’s riot of floral forms and hues, from autumn’s rich leaf and flower tones to winter’s dramatic contrasts, Nature offers beauty in endless variety. At any time of the year, you can create lovely arrangements of flowers and foliage that will bring your rooms alive with the colors, scents, forms and textures of the season.

When you’re establishing a cutting garden, don’t just charge outside with a shovel and some seed packets– take time to plan. Once you’ve decided what you need, the outdoor work can begin.

What Kind of Cutting Garden? Start by asking yourself a few questions. Will you be happy with flowers alone, or do you also want other material; foliage, berries, attractive twigs, and branches? What time of year should material be available? Some gardeners focus on spring and/or summer, while other want something for cutting all year long. Note that if you’re interested largely in floral displays for spring and summer, you’ll find many dozens of plant choices.


How to Wire Flowers and Foliage

Roses If the rose is a variety that opens quickly, you may want to help it stay closed. Push a wire through the head of the rose and bend down both sides so they lie parallel with the stem. Wind on end around the stem and the other to support the head.

Leaves To wire a leaf, turn it face down and insert a tiny “stitch� through the central vein about a third of the way down from the tip. Bend the end down forming a loop to support leaf and twist the ends around the stem.

Buds To support a tiny bud, use a fine 32-gauge silver wire. Push one end of the wire into the calyx then twist it down the stem. When you reach the bottom, add another wire then cover the wires with tape.

Wiring flowers calls for a lot of patience and painstaking care. The wiring replaces the flowers’ bulky stems, allowing you to manipulate a flower or leaf into the desired shape, and most importantly, making the item much lighter. The thickness of the wire depends on the weight of the flower, but in general use as fine a wire as possible.

Larger Flowers A flower with a heavier head needs a stronger wire– a 71 gauge, say. Punch a length of wire into the small amount of stem left in the base of the flower. To hold the flower in place, use finer wire inserted through the base of the flower head.

Lily of the Valley Something delicate like this needs an ultra-fine wire carefully wrapped around the stem and wound in and out of the individual bells. At the base of stem, add double-legged mount for extra support.

Camellias I’ve provided this stem with a doubleleg mount fashioned from heavier wire to provide extra strength. Use wire and bend it double and wind one end around the stem of the flower and the other wire.


Arranging flowers from your garden

2. 4.

How to Pin a Boutonniere

1. 3.

1. A boutonniere should be placed on the left side of the shirt. When you walk up to pin on the boutonniere go to your right (it will be his left). 2. As you position your boutonniere on his shirt you will want to eyeball the location to be similar to if your date were wearing a jacket with a lapel. Generally you want to place a boutonniere 4" down from the collar bone (or shoulder seam in shirt). 3. With one hand behind the boutonniere and the other hand holding the stem of the boutonniere place it on the front of his shirt. The front of the boutonniere should be facing you. 4. Hold the pin next to the boutonniere. 5. Slide the pin into and out of the shirt. Be careful to only get the shirt material and not your date' s flesh. 6. Weave pin edge in and out between the back of the boutonniere stem and shirt fabric and enjoy a beauitful boutonniere for the evening.



Create Beautiful Arrangements from your Own Flower Garden

Twelve cutting garden palns any location– including containers Step-by-step photographs show how to make beautiful and natural looking arrangements The best cutting plants to grow for each session

Arranging flowers from your garden


Arranging Flowers from your Garden  

Book redesign

Arranging Flowers from your Garden  

Book redesign