I can't wait! It is almost here! This weekend I will have the pleasure of designing flowers and joyfully attending Joe and Casey's wedding out in the Columbia River Gorge. Stay tuned for pictures!!
This past weekend, I had the honor of making personal flowers for a wonderful couple using this classic color palette of green and white. I love the black and white striped grosgrain ribbon for the bridesmaids and the delicate and feminine lace ribbon for the bride. The bouquet ingredients were: local fresh mint, scented geranium leaf, white freesia, super green garden roses, local white dahlias, white lisianthus and white stock.
Over the years I have been asked countless times from clients on how to get fresh flowers to stay looking their best. Usually because they have recently received flowers or bought flowers and found themselves pitching the whole arrangement within 3-4 days. Most people have this assumption that the arrangement is self-sufficient and requires no maintenance, or subscribe to some lazy tricks that will do the job for them. You know the ones I am talking about: putting a copper penny in the vase, mixing in vodka, sprite or bleach to the water, slitting the neck of a tulip, adding the commercial powder....none of this really works folks.
Assuming that the florist is buying the freshest product from the wholesaler in the first place and has taken the necessary steps to care for the flowers during processing and designing, the client should just be responsible for changing the water daily and giving the flowers/foliage a fresh cut.
Changing the water daily means changing the water daily, not adding water to the vase. Which a lot of people assume is the same thing. That only makes a vase with a little bit of dirty water turn into a vase with a lot of dirty water. Changing the water out completely is crucial because if the original vase water sits day after day the bacteria is just building upon itself. The flowers are drinking that dirty water constantly and thats why they rapidly deteriorate. After all, it is just stagnant water. Depending on how large your arrangement is, changing the water out might be a two person job. That is how it is typically done in a flower shop. One designer gently grabs the arrangement at the top of the vase with both hands and lifts it out, while the other designer dumps the water and refills the vase with cool water. This helps to preserve the design. Otherwise, if you are by yourself, you can grab the flowers with one hand and dump the water with your other. This takes a little skill though. If you have another vase that is similar, add fresh water to that one and just transfer the arrangement to it. The water level should be at least to the middle of the vase, if not higher. I always top my vase off with water once the arrangement is in the new vase. I have encountered many times in my career clients that are baffled as to why their lily got droopy all of a sudden. It was because the arrangement itself had sucked down so much water, the water level had gone past where the stem could reach. Also, make sure to take off any scrappy foliage on the stems that will be sitting in your new clean water. Leaving it on will only make your clean water turn to dirty water faster. The crucial fresh cut step would obviously be taking place in between pulling the arrangement out of the old water and placing it in the new water.
If you frequently receive flowers or place flowers in your home, investing in a florist knife or a decent pair of clippers is a must. Do not use regular scissors! They damage all the preciously delicate cells in the stem. Plus you never get a crisp cut. People end up massacring the flesh of the stems because they are just sawing away with a pair of dull ribbon scissors. And for the love of God, just because you have long sturdy fingernails to pinch the ends off, don't do that either. I would recommend using a knife over clippers, but a lot of people are intimidated with using a knife, so clippers are the next best thing. (I will cover using a florist knife vs. clippers in later blog post) When you are cutting the stems you don't have to take off much-about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch should do the trick. Since you are doing this everyday to the arrangement, you don't want your tall entryway bouquet to turn into a table centerpiece in two days. The objective is that you are reopening the pores of the stems so they can slurp up all that fresh water you are about to plunk them into. Within a day the stem pores begin to shrink and scab over within the cut area, making it harder for the flower to pull the water into itself. Cutting the stems daily keeps a constant flow of fresh water to the flower.
Let's remember, that at the end of the day, flowers are a perishable item. They are not meant to last forever, no matter how good you take care of them. A typical flower shop arrangement should look as good as the day you got it for 3 to 4 days-if you doing the things I mentioned previously. After that time, some (not all) of the flowers will be peaking and won't be around much longer. There is nothing you can do about this. A mini calla lily will always outlast bella donna delphinium. So just discard the flowers as they expire and enjoy the others. However, if you do receive flowers or buy flowers and they are just completely sad within a day, call the flower shop immediately. They should replace it, without question. It also gives the flower shop time to see it (you can bring it in or they might have the delivery driver pick the original one up when they are dropping off your replacement) and call their source for the flowers to get credit. Do not wait a week or later to call and let them know. It is unfair to the flower shop at that point. They can't be sure if the product was in fact bad or if you weren't taking care of it properly from the get-go, because as I mentioned above, some flowers will surely be on their way out within a week. It puts the flower shop in an awkward position as well because in the end, they want you to be happy. They will be at a complete loss if they send you a new arrangement and can't get any credit back from the wholesaler. Some people out there have unrealistic expectations for flowers. It would be like buying a gallon of milk and complaining to the grocer that it tastes sour after the expiration date...well duh.
Beyond the two major responsibilities of giving your flowers a fresh cut and changing the water daily, there are two other pieces of advice I would give. The first one is, keep the flowers away from heat. Don't put them in a sunny window or leave in a hot office. There are some people out there that think that "cut" flowers need ample sunlight to live. No. They needed it when they were still attached to the original plant. Now that they are cut, exposing them to direct sun or heat will only make them droopy. Lastly, pinch petals or pollen off as the flower ages in the vase. It is more aesthetically pleasing and once a tired bloom is plucked the flower will refocus on blossoming the remaining buds.
Every spring when I start meeting with summer brides, about half of them have a shade of blue as one of their main or accent colors. Turquoise has been a popular choice for the past couple summers to use in weddings, along with teal, Robin's egg blue and of course the favorite Tiffany blue. The problem is mother nature doesn't make flowers or foliage in those shades. She sticks with cobalt blues, dusty light blues, blue-grays and deep blue/purples. I always suggest to brides that if they are wanting to use turquoise or the like as a color within the flowers, it is best to introduce it through ribbon, glass, feathers, etc.- the hard goods. Whatever you do, just do it tastefully. I am 99.9% opposed to spraying or dying flowers unnatural colors, but sometimes certain textures look cool spray painted a crazy color. For instance in the photo shown, I spray painted a manzanita branch turquoise (and hand-painted the chevron box!) and it looks really fun and pretty.
If the blue color you are wanting falls in line more with the natural tones available, here are some photos of great choices to use. Scroll over the photo to find out their names.
Wow! This is really happening!! A dream come true. I can't thank enough my husband, family and friends who encouraged and supported this desire of mine to have my own floral design business. I have to also thank the great folks over at legalzoom.com for getting me up and running so fast. Even though they are not lawyers, their customer support team is extremely helpful. In fact, while I was filling my paperwork out online, I inadvertently missed clicking a crucial information box before going onward to the next page. Within seconds my phone was ringing. It was a customer support representative from legalzoom.com informing me that I had missed that important step.....saving me a ton of time and frustration down the road.
Also, let's just be clear that I am a novice when it comes to computers. Especially looking down the long, scary barrel of building my own website. Long ago are the days when I was proudly showing my parents how to use a VCR back in 1986. A fellow business owner of mine told me about Weebly. I love it and I'm proud they are hosting my site. It's very intuitive to build and design your website, but even if you get stuck they have a live chat to help you out quickly. I was up and running with a full functioning website in 8 days. They are genuinely happy and know their product very well. I would highly recommend checking them out if you are in need of a beautiful start to your new business or you are an established business that might need to refresh a dated looking website.
Thank you so much for all of your hard work on the flowers and sharing your talent with us! We're incredibly grateful!
-Taylor and Kendra
Thank you soooo much for all of your hard work on our wedding. We couldn't have pulled it off without you! We have truly enjoyed working with you- you always have the best, positive energy....which was needed when ours was waning :). We hope to work with you again in the future. Please keep in touch.
XO Erika, Deborah and Jon