Fill Your Home With Lasting Bouquets

"Flowers say what words can't,"

says Sabrina Carroll, owner of Medford's B. Cazwells Floral Dezines. With the myriad of blooms in Rogue Valley gardens and growers markets, everyone can express themselves with flowers. Rather than simply plunking blooms into water, spend a few minutes crafting an arrangement to make a statement. Here are some tips from some of the valley's floral designers.

choosing the right vase

When choosing a container for your blooms, select one that complements or contrasts with the arrangement in style, size and form. The size of the opening is important as it will dictate how many flowers and foliage you'll need.

If accenting a spacious room or large tabletop, use a tall vase or pitcher as the base for a grand arrangement. Start from the bottom and build it up until it's balanced and pleasing to the eye. "Oases, frogs or floral foam helps hold the flowers and works well in a bigger space," says B. Cazwells Floral Dezines owner Sabrina Carroll.

No vase? No problem. Use anything that holds water… peanut butter and jelly jars, cool water bottles, even teapots. Even old vases can be updated by wrapping them with tea towels or scarves and securing with rubber bands or double-sided tape. Float stemless flowers like camellias, gardenias or magnolias in a low bowl or a collection of glasses.

Start early.

To minimize moisture loss, cut garden flowers early in the morning.

Give them a trim.

Keep blooms fresher longer by trimming the ends. Cut about one inch from the end of the stems and immediately put them into warm, fresh water. Since clippers can smash stems, Carroll prefers using a sharp paring knife. Florists recommend cutting stems at a 45-degree angle, exposing as much surface area as possible. This way, flowers absorb as much water as possible and the flat stem doesn't sit on the bottom of the vase. Give them a trim each time you change the water.

Add water frequently and feed them.

Barbara Jones, floral designer for Flowers for Friends, says it's important to add fresh water to arrangements daily. Change the water every few days or as soon as you notice an off-odor.

Thirsty flowers can quickly drink a small vase full of water. She also suggests adding an aspirin. It's thought that the aspirin's carbohydrate provides energy to the cut flowers.

Floral and retail shops often include a little packet with each arrangement. "Use them. They've got nutrients to fortify the flowers and other agents to prohibit bacteria growth," says Carroll. Bacteria shorten the life span of your arrangement. Trim all leaves, extra greenery or blooms that come into contact with the water.

Go green.

When creating a floral arrangement, Jones always starts with the greenery. She suggests criss-crossing the stems to make a grid. These sturdy stems act as a foundation for the arrangement. Once the greenery is placed, add flowers, working your way around the vase. Continue building the arrangement until no holes remain. Use greenery to fill in areas and balance the bright flowers. Look around the yard for grasses, ferns, bushes, weeds and branches like oak, birch and Japanese maple to add interest to your arrangement.

Three is the magic number.

When designing an arrangement, the rule of thumb is the rule of thirds. Imagine dividing the whole composition into three parts. In a balanced arrangement, the vase should occupy one-third and the flowers, two-thirds of the whole.

Also, use three different heights of flowers — tall, medium and low.

Flowers have a language all their own. Let a few stems of cheerful daisies or a few stylish magnolias speak up in your home. Carroll says, "You really can't go wrong with fresh flowers "¦ they're magical."

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