Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weeds as Flower Arrangements

When I typed that title, I thought: Well, there goes the readership.

But, as you well know, I am an unpredictable chance taker from way back.

But, from the perspective of never becoming too particular and soldiering through hard economic times, this arrangement will go along way toward beauty achieved from things one already has surrounding themselves. But it does not defy the Blushing Commandment prohibiting piles of twigs being thrown on the table and pronounced a centerpiece. No, no. This is really cultivated weed stuff - pun intended, kinda.

Sharing several corners of my world with you now because the Blushing letters, ever so graciously, asked it of me. And who am I not to answer on the subjects of flower arrangements, DIY's, our bar, and the inside of our home, all in one fell swoop?

Do I keep flowers in the house? Yes, constantly, though not always in a conventional sense and no houseplants but for that one ill fated orchid. I try to maintain a small cutting garden, usually several rose varieties because they are hearty and do well where ever we are living, and whatever else the zone allows for climatically. I try not to buy flowers at the market but I am a sucker for peonies and great color. Finally, because flower arranging requires a great deal of greenery as a base, I use whatever pretty shrub, herb, weed, or ground cover I can press into service.

The arrangement for the bar this week is relevant in that any one of you could probably create this without a trip to the market and you should, you will only need to rethink your own greenery. It is a much larger arrangement than I usually place there because I wanted a heavy shot of green in part of the room: That corner is man's land. It is dedicated to the vessels upon which my Husband has served. That is his photography and memories above the bar. The area always just fades into the wall if I am not forceful with the floral color. This arrangement is huge for the area but I just tired of a bright, single color, French bouquet arrangement there so, while the scale is off, it is a relief of sorts at the moment.

Now, a disclaimer: I keep floral foam, wire, tape, and many vessels handy. All these things are inexpensive. I mean, spend the $10 and learn to DIY your arrangements like a pro or do what I did in my pampered professional life and call down to the florist to have the pleasure of spending $100 for the same thing. You will find all this in craft stores where they also sell silk flowers (which do not darken the door of my life - to answer another query).

Second disclaimer; I desperately wish this room, photographed by Southern Accents (RIP) were my cutting room. But alas, it is not.

It was important here to use as an example things you will recognize from ordinary landscaping or potted plants, all of these but the tea roses are native tropicals to this area and are in abundance everywhere (aka weeds).

I took my inspiration for the first swamp weed gathering from these resources which were thought provoking:

First, this bridal arrangement in Charleston Weddings. To die for beautiful, mostly swamp weeds like those I have intentionally cultivated in the back yard because they are beautiful when treated well:

How magnificent for a low country wedding is that work of art? I would plan an entire fete around that bouquet alone. Moving on: the large leaf is Monstera, then there is any number of locals: Standard fern, orchids, hosta, lilies, among others.

Then, do you remember this window box in Charleston? Yes, "cultivated natives."

Finally, I thought of this arrangement in Susie Edward's Encyclopedia of Flower Arranging. Though I stress that it is only for an concept. I truly cannot stand arrangements of this nature with the honking huge color candle in the center but the arrangement itself has merit, so bear with me here.

She includes green and white hosta, white roses, spider plant, ivy, and so on.

You will need, for certain:

Floral shears or scissors
A vessel
Half ball of floral foam
Dried Spanish Moss
Floral wire (depending on what is included in your arrangement)

Then a pile of weeds or green yard plants: I used lemon and lime branch, standard fern, rosemary, a green and white border plant which predated us, and gardenia branch cuttings. Asparagus fern is the base.

To prepare, strip all the leaves on roses or any like flower which will be below the water line; if left on, they will decompose quickly and destroy the arrangement very fast. Like any arrangement using a floral foam, soak the foam in water for a bit:

While you do this, get your cuttings organized on a safe surface, it was raining, so I brought them inside to arrange them. Normally, I would do this on the porch. I keep a vinyl tablecloth for projects of this nature inside: Just pick up the mess and toss all the trimmings back outside. For this arrangement I used both bagged dried artificially colored Spanish Moss and the real gray from a tree outside, I like the contrast and this stayed within my color commitment: Green, a little white, small flashes of yellow.

Place the asparagus fern in the foam, rotating placement circularly and up over the top of the half ball, it will help to anchor everything else. Arranging starts with mass greenery, it is not "filled" in with it.

Then, taking each variety of greenery separately to create balance, I go around again. This is a half-front arrangement so there does need to be some balance at the back but lightly so.

Place the roses (or orchids, if you choose) at the base of the arrangement haphazardly, as they would be in nature.

If you are moving the half ball into a larger container, add some warm water and move the arrangement on the half ball at this point. Cover the half ball with a little dried moss. Allow the real Spanish Moss to trail from the arrangement, once again, just as it does in nature.

There you have it.

A desperately needed huge shot of green and yellow in man land.

While you are visiting Blushing Hostess, be sure to contribute to this week's Etiquette Challenge Workshop.


Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Wonderful tutorial! I smiled when I read your title instead of running away. :) I'm not a fan of candles in flower arrangements either. Yours is lovely! Visiting from Kimba's party. :)

Ashley @ AshleysBusy said...

Your arrangement looks great. I'm ok with anything green brought inside, always make the room look better and more alive :)

Anonymous said...

Love how it turned out! You have much prettier "weeds" growing in your yard than I do. ;)

Southern Fried Gal said...

Cute. I was visiting a friend today and she took us out back to show off a new bird bath. She had a pot filled with weeds - they were gorgeous! She didn't do it on purpose, of course, but decided to go with it after it filled in for the summer - ha!

tales from an oc cottage said...

How cool!!

m ^..^

Your cool friend Cheryl said...

Thanks for sharing!

Beth said...

I think some weeds deserve their time in the spotlight too :).

Becky said...

A great lesson. Thanks. They are so beautiful.