A stunning flower arrangement is as close as your garden


Years ago, I had my hair done professionally for a wedding, and I remember the stylist saying, “I’m going to make it look like you did it yourself.”

At that point, I thought, “So why am I paying you? It doesn’t matter that my hair doesn’t look at all like what I made it myself. It looked like she had left a team of workers inside supporting him with scaffolding. My hair has recovered, but the lesson from that bad big hair day has remained: the beauty I admire the most looks natural and effortless.

This is just one of the reasons I enjoyed Clare Nolan’s new book, In Bloom: Grow, Harvest, and Organize Local Flowers Year-Round (CompanionHouse Books). This book is for anyone who is beyond the stiff wreath of identical red roses and prefers to echo the garden in their home a bit more.

Count on me.

After I picked up Nolan’s book, I picked up the phone and called her at her house in England. Like in her book, she kicked off the discussion with a compelling pep talk about why we should grow and harvest flowers at home.

“When you buy flowers at the store, the flowers are all at the same stage,” she says. “With garden flowers, you can mix buds with open flowers and replicate what happens in nature.”

And that’s why I love what I do. I never thought of that. “Mixing a bud with a full bloom is the signature of the naturalistic style,” says Nolan. Plus, store-bought flowers often have these straight, erect stems, forced to grow in one direction, which is not what they naturally would. Yard flowers often have a crazy little wiggle, or a leaf nibbled on insects, gifts that the group is home to, which adds a bit of magic. “

Cut not only the flowers, which she encourages, but also the fronds, tree branches, stems with pods.

I feel a craving for granola.

“Plus, it’s cheaper,” she says. Now I am really listening. “When your friend comes over for lunch, you can go out and pick a bunch of sweet peas that you would pay $ 10 in the store for, but it only cost you a bunch of seeds. And you make a bunch that isn’t. symmetrical or perfect, but personal to you and your garden, and better than money can buy. “

Another reason I love In bloom it’s because the arrangement photos seem so achievable, ”I tell him.

“I’m so glad you said that,” she said. “I took the pictures myself, which was a risk. But I know how I feel when I take a cookbook and make the recipe and look at what I did in relation to the picture, and there is that heartbreaking moment. “

“Each. Single. Time,” I said.

“I really wanted the photos to be just me in the garden picking stuff I had grown in real time. I didn’t want the photos to be taken with a 10-person styling team,” says Nolan. , who worked as a writer and stylist. for a variety of lifestyle magazines so I would know. Still, she tries to keep it real.

Emboldened, I went to my garden, where I don’t have a formal flower garden. I looked around and saw plants that I had never paid much attention to let alone thought of cutting. I cut a few branches of flowering bougainvillea, some tall grass, a branch laden with unripe holly berries, and a few hidden peacock orchids. I dipped them in a clay wine cooler, I put them on the kitchen table.

I took a step back and enjoyed a ta-da! moment. The bouquet looked like I made it myself, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Here are some more tips on harvesting and organizing Nolan flowers:

• Early and late harvest. Pick the flowers early in the morning or late in the day. Do not cut the flowers in the midday heat.

• Keep it clean. Cut the stems with a sharp, clean trimmer and drop them directly into a bucket of water. Let them sit indoors in a cool place for a few hours. Prepare your vase. It should be clean enough to drink.

• Feed them. Add these small packets of flower food to the water. The potion really prevents the formation of bacteria and nourishes the flowers.

• No garden flowers? Because not everyone has an English garden, Nolan says aim for a more natural look by buying flowers in the store and mixing them with the greenery in your garden. “When you mix a bunch of peonies with roses and bring your own greenery instead of using that rubberized green thing from the store, it makes all the difference.”

• Arrange with flare. To create a hand-tied bouquet, arrange all your pickings and your own vase. Remove any leaves that will fall below the waterline. Arrange a few pieces of foliage in the palm of your hand. Add a focal flower, then a few filler flowers. Then, and here’s the pro tip, twist the bouquet so that the stems start to spiral downward, much like the spokes of a wire whisk. Continue to add foliage and flowers, rotating the bouquet with every third stem. Place the flowers a little lower as you go to create a rounded shape.

• Be disruptive. To break the symmetry and “add a little weirdness,” pull a few smaller flowers so that they protrude a little, and maybe a branch. Aim for imperfection. Once you are satisfied, tie the bouquet with a string where you held it. (The higher the tie, the tighter the arrangement.) Cut the stems at an angle so that they are even and fit the vase. So take advantage of what money can’t buy.

Unionized columnist Marni Jameson is the author of five books on the home and lifestyle, including Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go.

HomeStyle on 05/25/2019


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