If you’re a regular here or on my Instagram you’ll know I love flowers. One thing I’ve always wanted to do, and have never had the opportunity to before, is to attend a flower arranging workshop. So when Anthropologie got in touch to invite me to the Bloomon x Anthropologie Flower Roadshow in Edinburgh I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather be doing on a sunny, Spring Saturday morning! Bloomon is a flower service that delivers directly from grower to customer. Cutting out the middle man, they are experts in picking the most beautiful colours, varieties and scents. All their flowers come from Holland keeping airmiles lower, working closely with the growers in the rhythm of the seasons. No December peonies flown from the other side of the world here! They also run workshops and have joined forces with Anthropologie to tour the UK and share their botanical expertise. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and picked up lots of tips from floral stylist Stuart, so thought I would share five pointers with you; whether seasoned flower arranger or relative novice, I hope there’s a gem or two here that helps you as well!
1) Firstly, prepare your receptacle. Shape is important: you want the flowers to have enough room so they’re not competing for light or water. Height is key to your style of arrangement, so it is worth having a selection of different vessels to choose from. Medicine bottles are in vogue, while Bloomon make the lovely made-to-measure hand-blown glass vases pictured. Flowers require crystal clear water so make sure your vase is clean – add a drop of bleach to remove any residue, rinse and add fresh water. I was surprised to learn that you don’t actually need to fill the vessel up to the top – in fact, this apparently drowns the flowers, eek! As much water as is in the workshop pictures is sufficient; clearly I’ve been getting this wrong for years…
2) When you receive your cut flowers, unpack them to let them breathe (they are cut when they are sleeping and will wake up in the water!). Before you add each stem to the vessel, trim their ends on the diagonal to increase the surface area available for the flowers to take up maximum water. Speaking of which, you should change their water every two to three days, and each time you do, you need to trim the ends a little more. You will be left with much shorter blooms by the time they are done but they will last much longer as a result.
3) To start arranging your flowers, begin with a thick stem of foliage. Cross with a long stem, turn the vase, criss-cross two smaller stems and so on. This will create a tepee shape so that your flowers are supporting themselves – rather than the neck of the vase. Keep threading them through, making sure that weaker, soft stems, such as tulips, are in the centre and thus supported by the arrangement and less likely to flop over. Work with the different shapes and heights and don’t be too precious – rustic is in (thank goodness!). See above for Bloomon’s before, during and after shots, and below for mine: you can see how the shape of our respective bouquets progresses.
4) As you play around with your arrangement, make sure you have trimmed off any foliage below the water line – and don’t let the leaves dip in the water as this will kill the plants. Likewise, if any of the stems start to die off over time, make sure you remove them from your vase as they will cause the other flowers to deteriorate. I was pleased to hear about the longevity of some of these blooms – up to two weeks! Foliage and hardier stems last particularly well and will dry out, too. Once dried, they last a lifetime; as such they lend themselves well to things like flower crowns that can be dried and worn again. Apparently eucalyptus is lovely hung in the bathroom as well.
5) You can add the flower food that comes with your blooms, but once you change the water you will need an alternative. At this stage, you can add a drop – and I mean a drop – of bleach and a pinch of sugar to perk them up. Always keep your blooms away from direct sunlight, sources of heat (or cold) and also, perhaps surprisingly, fruit – as they give off ethylene gas that can cause flowers to deteriorate. To stop tulips flopping, a couple of coppers in your water will magically make them stand up! As the flowers last different lengths of time – and because you are trimming each time you change the water – your arrangement will evolve, but that’s half the fun! I love ending up with lots of wee posies here and there, filling every room and eking out my bunch of flowers for as long as possible.
I hope you like the finished results as much as I do. My favourite thing about the workshop – other than gaining confidence in just going for it, and there being no right or wrong way with flower arranging – was being introduced to some new flowers. Some of the blooms we included that I was less familiar with were bells of Ireland, larkspur, calendula, ixia, snapdragons and blue delphiniums, with the more familiar Sweet William, freesia and stocks. Left to my own devices, I doubt I would have known enough to pick these for myself and put them together, but I departed the workshop feeling freshly inspired and determined to branch out from my usual floral style.
Have you been on a flower arranging course before? Do you have any tips to share?
I received a place on the flower arranging class for the purposes of review – but all love of flowers and bright colour entirely my own.