Build The Perfect Bouquet With Tips From A Flower Guru
Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard is an urban flower farmer who has made a practice of creating professional farm-style cutting gardens in her west Toronto neighborhood where she grows beautiful and rare blooms sustainably. She turns these flowers into bouquets for her weekly subscription service, as well as for weddings and events. Sarah’s arrangements display the gorgeous possibilities of Canadian-grown flowers and urban farming.
Here she breaks down six arrangements that are fresh and unfussy, identifying the blooms and greenery and giving insider flower arranging tips. Click through for her foolproof bouquet formulas.
This colorful arrangement was created in a wide-mouth vessel, so Sarah applied floral tape in a grid pattern across the opening for support (unlike regular tape, it can stand up to water and won’t peel off). “Insert the foliage in the grid first to set up the structure of the arrangement. It will provide a base to help support the flowers.”
Pictured: 1. Rose ‘Maid of Honor’ 2. Scabiosa ‘Fama’ 3. Coreopsis 4. Chantilly Snapdragons 5. Poppy pods 6. Daucus Carota ‘Dara’
Some greenery has more staying power than others. “Even if the cut flower is great in an arrangement, the leaves might not last and will need to be stripped. Be sure that no leaves sit below the water line — they will rot.” In this arrangement, scented geranium leaves, which emit a chocolate mint fragrance, and pea vine are used; Sarah adds that cherry or currant tomatoes are also great foliage choices.
Pictured: 1. Dahlia ‘Lakeview Peach Fuzz’ 2. Dahlia ‘Bride to Be’ 3. Scabiosa ‘Fata Morgana’ 4. Dahlia ‘Robin Hood’ 5. Lavatera 6. Scented Geranium ‘Chocolate Mint’
“Scrub and rinse containers well, especially glass ones which can have a waterline from previous arrangements,” says Sarah. “Get rid of any soap residue — the vase should be clean enough to drink from. You don’t want bacteria to remain behind.” Sarah also recommends changing the water for arrangements every couple of days to reduce bacteria and increase longevity. Adding flower crystals such as Floralife will help extend an arrangement and encourage flowers to open, too — just follow the directions so the ratio of water to flower food is correct.
Pictured: 1. Peonies 2. Wild Rose 3. Lady’s Mantle 4. Mock Orange
Blocks of floral foam are often used to secure arrangements by commercial florists. “It’s a petroleum product that is non-biodegradable, and it’s dangerous to inhale the dust,” says Sarah, who avoids them. In opaque containers such as this one, try balling up some chicken wire, or use a floral frog to support the stems instead.
Pictured: 1. Dahlia ‘Labyrinth’ 2. Rose ‘Maid of Honor’ 3. Dahlia ‘Lakeview Peach Fuzz’ 4. Dahlia ‘Mission Gypsy’ 5. Daucus Carota ‘Dara’ 6. Raspberry 7. Scabiosa ‘Black Knight’
When mixing different colors in an arrangement, it can be helpful to have particular flowers bridge the hues by picking up undertones. The Rudbeckia’s brown center picks up the dark brown shades of the shiso foliage (lower left of arrangement) and the speckles on the foxgloves, and as well as bringing out the creamy brown undertones in the Cafe au Lait Dahlia. The buttery yellow petals of the Rudbeckia connect with the yellow of the peach dahlias and the creamy yellow of the foxgloves.
Pictured: 1. Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait’ 2. Lavatera 3. Foxglove ‘Dalmation Cream’ 4. Rudbekia Sahara
Next time you prune the garden shrubs or a vine, the cuttings can be slipped easily into an arrangement. “Ninebark and Weigela are both common shrubs which have interesting shaped leaves to add texture, and they last a long time.” Change the water for arrangements every couple of days to reduce bacteria and increase longevity.
Pictured: 1. Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait’ 2. Phlox ‘Cherry Caramel’ 3. Sunflower 4. Daucus Carota 5. Japanese anemones