Welcome to this weeks In A Vase On Monday when as usual I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to join in with her challenge to find something from the garden to put in a vase for the house every Monday of the year.
This week I have to confess is a little bit of a cheat – not only did I make the 2 vases on Saturday but they also contain a bunch of white roses that I purchased from the garage. In my defence I am away with my mother this week in Lancashire – on our annual road trip to revisit our roots, so anything I prepared had to be made in advance.
It was my turn to take care of the alter flowers in my local church this weekend and as I was spending a little more time on these arrangements than I would do for a jug of flowers for the house, I thought I would try and take you through my thought process when putting together an arrangement of flowers.
If you stick with me to the end you will also find details of todays Giveaway, which is a Paula Pryke book called Everyday Flowers.
The starting point for any arrangement is deciding on the raw materials – in this case I wanted to make something that reflected the May floral froth that I see all around me in the garden and lanes where I live. I like my flowers to look quite wild and loose, so I needed a selection of supporting foliage to form the base structure of the arrangement and as many airy delicate flowers as I could find to add movement and a touch of the hedgerow. I also like my arrangements to contain a few focus flowers to take a starring roll.
Although I try to find as much material as I can from my garden and surrounding lanes I have come to the conclusion that it is ok to plan to buy in the focus flowers for arrangements that I am making for events and special occasions. Trying to have these flowers available in my own garden for particular dates can be very stressful! On the other hand foliage and fillers can be adapted to what is available, so are always easy to forage for.
For todays arrangements I chose to buy in the white roses – just a bunch from the local garage as I only needed a few flowers. These will last well in the cool church and hopefully will still be looking good when I refresh the arrangement next Saturday. When I planned these arrangements last week my lilac was still in tight bud, but the warmer temperatures have brought everything on quickly – I was delighted to find that my white lilac tree was just coming into flower on Saturday, so the lilac flowers were an unexpected bonus! The foliage came from a philadelphus shrub and a mature honeysuckle which has also just come into flower. The airy filler flowers were found in spirea arguta Bridal Wreath and that lovely May weed called cow parsley, which is billowing along the edges of all the lanes this week.
Before starting my arrangements I always spend some time carefully prepping my flowers. I recut all the stems, remove any foliage that I expect to be below the water line and tidy away any browning leaves or unwanted dead material in my flowers. The stems are then placed in water in an assortment of containers on my kitchen work top. By spending a little time this way before I start work I get to know the flowers and am not held up by continually having to clip away at the stems to clean them up.
The roses were purchased on Friday morning and the stems recut and placed in a tall jug of cool water to rehydrate. The flowers were tightly in bud when I bought them, but started to relax after 24 hours in my kitchen.
I love the wild feel that vines such as honeysuckle and jasmine add to an arrangement – particularly if they come complete with a flower or two.
White lilac is my favourite starring flower but be warned – it has a very short shelf life both on and off the tree, These pristine white scented flowers brown very quickly. When I am prepping lilac I recut the stems and then make a cut up the centre of each stem of about an inch or two – the theory is that this increases the surface area that can draw up water so helping the flowers to last longer. I am not sure if it works but I like to play safe so always do this. I also always remove all the foliage from the lilac stems – I prefer the flowers to not have to compete with leaves for water.
Cow parsley lasts well in a vase but I have another warning – it sheds after a day or two and can make quite a mess – I tend not to use it on expensive wooden furniture but it is fine over washable material or wipeable surfaces.
Once I have gathered my materials and chosen my containers it is time to start arranging. Although I do use oasis (floral foam) when the arrangement demands it, my preference is always to arrange straight into water. As these alter arrangements are quite small a couple of my white jugs made perfect containers. The advantage of a solid container over glass is that you do not have to worry about how the stems look or whether the water is crystal clear. I started by taking the foliage elements and using them to make a framework in each vase that would support the focus flowers – the roses and lilac.
Once I was happy with the framework I tucked in the roses and lilac. I prefer to arrange my focus flowers in groups so that they sit as they would on a plant in the garden rather than dotted through the arrangement.
You can see my cup of tea in the foreground – there is always tea when I am working! Most of my cups have stories behind them – this is an Emma Bridgewater mug that I won in a raffle at a event organised to raise money to support cancer charities. The event was organised by Annie (who died recently) and her mother last autumn and I can vividly remember Annie bringing this to my house after the event. You can read more about the lovely Annie here.
Once the foliage and focus flowers are in place I feel the arrangement is close to being finished.
The final touch comes with the addition of the airy filler flowers. I like these to pop out over and around the arrangement, bringing an abundant wild garden feel to things.
These are the finished vases waiting to be transported – hopefully they brought a touch of the frothy May hedgerow to the church on Sunday morning.
So now to the Giveaway!! I mentioned last week that I was given this lovely book as a birthday present, but actually already had a copy on my bookshelf. This book is called Everyday Flowers and was originally published under the name Flowers Every Day. It is a beautiful seasonal book with lots of ideas for flowers and foliage to buy or grow for every season. In a move away from her grander wedding work Paula Pryke takes the time here to explain how she would create simpler but just as beautiful arrangements for the home. This is one of my personal favourite floristry books that I refer to regularly and as a thank you to everyone who follows my blog I am making todays Giveaway open to you wherever in the world you are.
To take part in the draw please leave a comment on this post asking to be included. As this is a thank you from me to you for your support all that I ask is that you are following my blog if you would like to be included – if you are following via FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter or Bloglovin just make that clear in your comment as you will not appear in my WordPress list. I will not include any comment in the draw that I cannot identify, so please do make that clear.
As I am away all week comments will remain open until midnight Uk time on Sunday 15th May. I will make the draw next Monday and name the winner in my ‘In A Vase On Monday’ post on 16th May. Once I have made contact with the winner they can provide me with their address via email. In the meantime I will be enjoying a week with my mother enjoying visiting old haunts in Lancashire and Yorkshire.
I hope you have enjoyed this weeks more detailed look at how I go about making an arrangement. I tried to take the photos as I went along this week, rather than just giving you the finished product.
Please do pop over to Cathy’s blog to see what she and the others have found in their gardens this week and if you are inspired to join us make sure to add a link to your flowers to Cathy’s blog. I have already had a peak at Cathy’s arrangement and can see that she has treated us to some lovely scottish hedgerow wild flowers.