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Getting the best out of your flowers

I adore having flowers in my house and they don’t need to be an extravagant arrangement, often my favourites are those that have been made up from leftover bouquet flowers or bits that I've cut from my garden. However, it can sometimes feel a little daunting knowing how to arrange them. To help, I’ve pulled together a quick guide on how to arrange flowers either from a tied bouquet or from shop brought.

If you've brought or received a hand tied bouquet the first step is to take them out of their wrapping as soon as possible and rinse the ends of the stems. You can either trim the stems to the length you wish (dependent on vase you are putting them in) or you can remove the tie and pop them in a vase loose. This creates a more relaxed, fuller display.

If you are opting for arranging yourself then the first thing to do is group your flowers and foliage into piles. If you've brought flowers then prior to this you will need to ‘condition’ them. This means stripping away any leaves that will be under the water level when you pop them in your chosen vase. If you have brought roses make sure you also remove any thorns.

You are ready to arrange

My first step is to add foliage to the vase. I pop in three pieces of the same type of foliage, at an angle, evenly distributing them in the vase. I then pop in the second type of foliage, in-between the first three. I cut these so they are just slightly longer than the first foliage put in. My general rule is that there should be enough foliage to have built up a basic framework but still gaps to then add your flowers. 

The first flowers to put in should be the focal flowers, usually the ones that are the biggest. I usually pop one in the middle and cut it so its slightly taller than the others.

Tip - Before you cut make sure you hold the flower next to the vase to measure how much to cut (sounds simple I know but the amount of times I’ve got this wrong!).

Then start to stagger the remaining flowers in, working on the basis of five of each flower.

Then add in your remaining flowers. Again, I would put in the second focal flower and start inserting at an angle. The general rule to create a graduated shape that is high at the top and low at the bottom – imagine a posy shape. Add your third flower again following the same process as above.

Finish off by adding foliage to any spaces and around the base of the arrangement.

My top tips

• If you are having problems when arranging in your vase (and its non-opaque) pop some chicken wire in the bottom of your vase to help keep your flowers and foliage in place.

• Make sure you keep hold of any pieces that are too short and keep for a smaller mini arrangement. I pop them in a little cut-glass tumbler and scatter around my house. 

• Vary your foliage to create different textures and add herbs to your arrangements. I’ve started growing mint, rosemary and lavender in my garden so I can do just this. Not only do they look beautiful but they add to the scent. I can’t resist rubbing mint every time I walk past just to get that hit of a fragrance.

• Make sure you continually turn your vase when arranging to ensure its balanced and that it looks right from each angle. If your arrangement are going on a kitchen or dining room table then you want it to look great wherever you sit.

Maximising the life of your bouquet

• Make sure your vase is as clean as possible. I give mine a clean with some bleach spray before filling with water. I also pop a tiny amount of bleach into the water to prevent bacteria forming, repeating this daily.

• Cut the stems at an angle to maximise their water uptake.

• Keep your arrangement in a cool place, out of direct sunlight and away from ripening fruit.

• To prolong the life of your flowers, re-cut the stems and any leaves that would be below the waterline.

• Replace water daily.

• You may find that some flowers start to look tired before others. I often at this point remove those and cut the remaining ones to quite a short length and make a smaller display.

Enjoy your flowers!

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