With this current demonstration, I wanted to show how to make a fairly decent arrangement just by grabbing a few bunches of standard-issue store-bought flowers (these came from the holy land, Home Depot, but similar ones can be found at most supermarkets, Trader Joe’s, etc). As you can see, I also stuck a couple of sprigs of garden cuttings in there, too–but this was a last minute embellishment that really isn’t required.
I grabbed one bunch of a dozen orange roses, and two bunches of a dozen orangey-yellow tulips. Monochromatic arrangements are a really quick way to get a lot of visual pop without having to over-think it. It even looks really great if you’ve got different shades of the same color (like, for instance, these roses don’t perfectly ‘match’ the color of the tulips, but they’re all pretty orange, wouldn’t you say? Good enough!). Don’t ever try to match flower colors–it is a battle you cannot win.
Two bunches of tulips, one bunch of roses.
I picked one of my favorite metal containers from Ikea (the other holy land). It’s about 7.5 inches tall and 5 inches wide at its rim. This is kind of a low, rounded arrangement, so it needs a low container with a wide mouth.
Oh, Ikea….you complete me.
Stripped tulips. Scandalous.
Stripped roses. Also scandalous.
Next I stripped those flowers. Typically speaking, you want to strip all the leaves off of tulips, unless, like me, you might want to see a little green here and there, peaking out. If so, leave maybe the top one or two leaves and gently yank the rest of them off of there. Get every last leaf off those roses–if you’ve got a rose stripper, great–if not, just pluck each one off.
Now you wanna take one of the little packets of flower crack that come taped to the cellophane packaging (hopefully, you didn’t throw them away, this stuff works–use one for this, and keep the rest! DO IT.), add some to your container and then fill the container with cold water. For this sized container you don’t need to use the whole packet–maybe only half–I dunno, it’s not an exact science.
Free-with-purchase flower preservative.
It’s go time, people!
I always start an arrangement by putting in the flowers that take up the most volume first–in this case, it’s the roses.
Grab the whole bunch in one hand, and then fiddle with each flower until they kind of form a nice, rounded, even bouquet. Don’t make it flat; have the roses in the center be a little higher than the ones around the edges. Maybe you lucked out and the way you grabbed them looked great. Again, this does not have to be perfect.
Now, while holding them still in the bouquet, you’re gonna cut the stems to the length you want. For these sorts of arrangements (the full, low, mounded sort), I like to cut the length so that the flower heads are gonna theoretically sit right on the top edge of that container. But to really get this right, you don’t want to cut the stems to be exactly 7.5 inches long (the height of this container)–you want to cut them a little shorter than that. Maybe more like 7 inches. You’re better off cutting them a little on the short side instead of the long side.
Next, just drop them in the container and let them fall where they want. They’re gonna naturally produce some gaps, and this is where you want to start sticking tulips. One at a time, cut each tulip to a length of about 7 inches, and start sliding them in there.
What you absolutely DO NOT want to do here is try to space things evenly. This is a lost cause. You want the tulips to look like they’ve grown up through the roses naturally with no space-planning. You should wind up with a haphazard vein of tulips peeking through the roses.
Now fiddle with the flowers individually to give the arrangement as a whole a soft, mounded look. This is where cutting the stems a little (only a little) on the short side comes into play–it is really helpful to be able to push and pull the flowers to the appropriate depth. Again, don’t try to make the shape perfect; by morning, those tulips will have grown a half inch taller (they keep growing the whole time, and you either have to embrace this and let them do their thing, or keep adjusting them everyday). I happen to love this about tulips.
At this point, you’re really, actually finished! This is a cute monochromatic arrangement that only required three bunches of Home Depot flowers and a vase that you, hopefully, had at home.
But maybe you’re not satisfied. Maybe you want to get crazy and add a little more color. So get crazy. Stop whining about it. Go see what you can find in your yard to add in. Sparingly. The main oomph of the arrangement is the tulips and roses–accent flowers and greens should be just that–accents. Don’t go overboard. It’s really easy to junk it up. Use only one or two more materials….if you bring in five more types of flowers and greens from the yard and shove them all in there, it’s gonna look manic.
A few suggestions about yard clippings: greenery is pretty easy to deal with. Most tree and shrub clippings are pretty hardy. Vines work pretty well for the most part. Flowers are temperamental; not all of them are gonna survive being cut and put in water. The only way to know for sure is to try. But such is the beauty of this arrangement: if your accents don’t work, pluck them out and try again with something else, or just leave them out altogether.
I brought in about six pieces of dark blue salvia and five small bits of live grapevine from the yard. The blue is really bold against the orange, so I only wanted to just tuck a wee bit in. As usual, I did this in a very asymmetrical way: three or so clustered just a little off-center, and then the rest spaced around one side of the arrangement. Don’t try to evenly space them around the whole arrangement. It will look too contrived. The grapevine mostly gets tucked in around the base of the flowers, although I always like to have one or two little bits of greenery poking out of the top.
Hopefully, you rode out this long instruction manual and now have a gorgeous arrangement of your own creation. If so, congrats! If not, you’re probably swearing at me right now, and I totally understand.
Please let me know if you have any questions about or what you thought of this tutorial by leaving me a comment.