Contain Yourself!

Contain Yourself!

The containers you choose for flower arrangements can make as much of a contribution to the visual impact of an arrangement as the flowers themselves do. To demonstrate, we’ve used the same flowers in four different containers to show how a little thing like using a basket instead of a vase (or a box, or even a hat!) can completely change the feel of the flowers. And by “we”, I mean my longtime friend and house manager, Nelly Salvacion and me. Nelly and I have worked together for fourteen years. Her flower arranging skills are incredible and she is frequently in demand by others for special parties and events – not to mention her culinary strengths, which you will hear more about in future posts.

If I’m choosing flowers for a party at home, we go to the floral wholesalers together to see what’s available and exceptional that day. I always have several different concepts in mind for flowers and containers before going; it’s important to stay flexible because even when flowers are special-ordered in advance, they can arrive looking past their prime, or too tightly-budded to open in time for the party. There’s an element of uncertainty in ordering flowers, and you can’t fault the wholesaler – they can only sell what they’re sent, and the transit process can be hard on blooms. So prepare to buy flowers with an open mind. You can eliminate some of the uncertainty, and be kind to the environment, by choosing seasonal flowers that don’t have to travel as far. A perfect peony in May is a safe choice on the east coast; in November that peony may have to travel from New Zealand and will be more expensive – and potentially travel-worn.

The local grocery store is an excellent source for flowers, and because they sell in volume, their prices are often competitive with floral wholesalers. Grocery store flowers are especially good for buying in volume. If a dozen Siberian irises from the grocery at $6.99 a bunch look nice, three dozen iris for about twenty dollars can be a real showstopper. Wherever you’re buying flowers, take the time to pick out the freshest ones; the cut stems should not be slimy or mushy and leaves should be perky and upright. The blooms should be on their way to being open or open, but not faded or drooping.

Vase with blue and green flowers

Sleek and contemporary


Country birch basket


An old wooden traveling box gives a more traditional look


Proof that almost anything can be a floral container – fun for a baseball team party or after-tournament get together

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