Written by: Katherine Perry, publishing assistant
For a recent bridesmaids’ luncheon hosted by our editor-in-chief, I attempted to add a little punch to the punch bowl with a floral ice ring. With a few simple instructions from our ever-creative design editor, Sybil Sylvester, I set out to see if this project was really as foolproof as it sounded. Good news! This project is easy and impactful… and may become my signature party trick.
All you need is a round metal mold, water, and a botanical filler such as roses, impatiens, or mint. I borrowed a mold from Sybil and used pink and white impatiens from the backyard.
Begin by adding water to the mold until it is about 1/3 full. Give your flowers/herbs a rinse and add some to the thin layer of water. Place this initial layer in the freezer for a couple of hours until it is completely frozen. Once the first layer has frozen, add more water until the mold is approximately 2/3 full and sprinkle in more of your filler. Allow this layer to freeze, then add your final layer of water and filler. Freeze overnight.
To remove the ice ring, wrap a hot towel around your mold to loosen the ice and slide the ring into the punch. And yes, this entire process is just as easy as it sounds!
Flowers with tender or short stems (hyacinth, daffodils, orchids and more) can be placed in water picks before including them in an arrangement; water picks will give your more fragile flowers a bit more support and prevent them from wilting too soon. Water picks are especially useful for arrangements that use Oasis, as it will then be easier to stick them into the firm surface of the floral foam:
flower's Spring 2009 Mechanics design
Cleanup is always the least entertaining facet of entertaining; after enjoying the happy bustle of a dinner party, just the thought of washing pots and pans can be exhausting. Similarly, when an arrangement begins to wilt it can be tempting to toss the old water, give the vase a quick rinse, and call it a day. It’s a small thing, but properly cleaning your containers after each use helps your future floral designs enjoy a longer life. Rather than merely rinsing your vases out with cool water after they’ve been used, ensure that any grime left over from standing water is removed with hot, sudsy water. You can be assured that this simple step will prevent bacteria from harming future thirsty stems, resulting in a longer vase life for your blooms.
Photo Credit: Liesa Cole
Hydrangeas are gorgeous blooms that thrive in warm weather with plenty of water (“hydra” is Greek for “water”). In arrangements, though, these flowers may begin to wilt because their woody stem does not absorb water as easily as other flowers– and there is nothing more sad than wilted flowers in a floral design! Luckily, there’s a quick fix for when your hydrangeas get droopy:
Dunk these thirsty flowers into a bowl of water and let them drink for 20 minutes or so. When you pull them out, you will have revived hydrangeas ready to take their place back into your floral design!
In our Summer ’08 Mechanics segment, we created a “cut flower garden” with bright blooms dancing free from containers. This fun look is achieved with the use of floral foam, which provides a structured base for flowers while also enabling your design to adapt to your desires easily. Some flowers, though, (like the hyacinth pictured below) will still crave some extra support to prevent their blooms from drooping. The solution is simple: take a small string of raffia and simply tie the stem to a sturdier nearby stem. Being bound to a steadier neighbor helps weaker stemmed flowers like the hyacinth stand tall in your arrangements. It’s a simple trick that helps keep your designs looking fresh and vibrant.
Floral foam is a great tool for providing structure for your arrangement, but some containers make it hard to hide. In our Spring 2008 issue, we use variegated flax leaves (which can be found at your local floral wholesaler) and a simple basket weave technique to decoratively disguise the mechanics behind our work. Click through our gallery to see the simple steps required to achieve this look, as well as the completed arrangement flower girl Mimi Brown used it with in our Spring 2008 mechanics department:
One of Mimi Brown’s consistent tips when arranging flowers is to always remember to remove “grower” petals, especially from your roses. Roses often travel far to get to us and sometimes the wear and tear shows. Removing any damaged outer petals will make over even the most bedraggled-looking blooms.
In our current issue, Mimi’s design used black roses and darker red spray roses, whose edges do tend to turn brown, so removing those outermost petals is even more important. You’ll be surprised at how this little trick will freshen up your flowers. In fact, it’s something you can continue to do as the flowers wilt.