Here’s a quick how-to for arranging a bouquet of summer flowers. I’ve chosen roses, stock (matthiola incana), viburnum, and lavender because they’re available at most flower shops and the roses and stock come in a variety of colors. I’ve been doing a lot of relaxed, casual flowers this summer, and it seemed time to do something a little more a la White House.
In the first photo, you’ll find what you need to get started: a vase, scissors, and floral oasis, which has been cut, soaked, and pushed down into the vase. I secured the oasis with floral tape to hold it still inside the vase. Both oasis and floral tape can be purchased at most florist shops. Floral oasis comes in very useful, porous blocks that hold flower stems in place in an arrangement and keeps water near the stems. You can stick any stem into oasis and it will stay right where you put it. The weight of the water-filled oasis also holds the flowers securely in the container. You can cut it in any shape you like, to fit any container. Just be sure you have thoroughly soaked it with water before you start arranging flowers, so that it is properly weighted.
The peach stock is first into the arrangement, to create a basic shape for the bouquet. The peach David Austin roses are next. These are the old-fashioned double-blooms that I love, and they are the central point of interest. The viburnum goes in with the roses, so that they are seen throughout the bouquet, always in contrast to the roses. I added rose leaves around the bottom of the arrangement, to ground it.
Next: the lavender is added for a pop of color and some textural interest. This is a very structured bouquet, not some loose and flowing collection of wildflowers. My choice for the structure was dictated by the traditional silver container. So often it’s not the flowers that determine the formality of a bouquet, but the container.
Sadly, the lovely bright green viburnum blossoms drooped alarmingly only a couple of hours after I bought them, and were mostly unusable. I substituted some small green hydrangeas from the garden in order to achieve the look I was after – but the viburnum would have been so much better. Note to self: don’t buy flowers that are out of season!
A few basic bouquet tips:
Changing the water in an arrangement every day will help it to last longer.
When cutting flower stems, cut across the stem diagonally, to allow them to draw water more easily.
Always trim flower stems before putting in a vase, even if they’re already the length you want them to be. Each cut on a stem immediately begins to seal itself off, and you want to keep the water flowing up the stem as much as possible.
Put flowers in water as soon as you get home: if you want the flowers to open more quickly, use warm water.
Try not to allow any leaves to be in the water; they will begin to decay and foul the water, and the flowers won’t last as long.