Sunday, March 15, 2009

Quick & Easy Spring-time Flowers

I thought it might be time to talk about a couple of simple floral arrangements that can be done at home, frugally. Tulips are one of my favorite flowers, along with orchids and daisies. Tulips are fairly inexpensive and easy to come by. I bought mine at the Food Emporium in my neighborhood, it's one of my local supermarkets that has a nice section of fresh cut flowers. Today I bought 3 bunches for under $20 and I already had vases at home that I could use.

I chose to use the clear vases because tulips have incredibly pretty light green stems and leaves that can become a complimentary part of your arrangement. Add cold water to a clean vase so that it's half to 2/3's full.

Prior to cutting the stems of the tulips, always rinse each bunch off under cool water to loosen any soil that's still stuck within the crevices of the leaves. Once rinsed, pull off the leaves closest to the bottom of the stems. They should be shucked off like shucking ears of corn, rather than torn off so that the stems look smooth and clean without a remainder of leaves stuck on them.

This is the key to a clean tulip arrangement! Removing the lower leaves allows the arrangment to have room within the vase to stand straight up, creating vertical lines of green, which visually elongates the arrangement. The upper leaves can be left on the stems so that your arrangement looks fuller at the top, like the second image above with yellow buds. After removing the lower leaves, cut about 1/2" to 1" off the bottom of the stem at an angle. This allows a larger opening in the stem for water to pass through, up to the bud. You may need to cut off more if you're working with long stems. Make sure you don't cut too much off the stems or your arrangement could end up being too short for your vase. The buds that have straighter stems should be placed in the center of the arrangement and the buds that bend outward should be placed around the perimeter of the bunch.

For a very sleek and modern arrangement you can remove all of the stems and place in a clear vase. This gives it a minimalist feeling and looks great in a modern or contemporary setting. If you choose to remove all the leaves make sure you have enough flowers to create a full but not stuffed arrangement. Also feel free to use assorted colors of tulips.
Another alternative is a shorter arrangement that can be used to add a touch of color to a smaller surface area like an end table, a window ledge or in the powder room. You can achieve this by following the beginning steps above-add cold water to your clean vase, rinse and de-leaf your tulips. From the leaves that you remove, put aside about 3 of the widest ones for later use. Then place each tulip into one hand, arranging them so that the top of the buds are all at the same height. Still holding them in one hand, place them next to your shallow vase so that the base of the buds are 2 inches from the top of vase. Still holding the bunch next to your vase, check to see where the stems are level with the bottom of your vase- this is where you will cut them. Keep holding them in one hand and use your other hand to cut all the stems level.

Using the leaves you put aside, tightly wrap the stems of the tulips in your hand. Use enough leaves to cover all the way around. Then place them into your vase. Once in the vase you can loosen the wrapped leaves so that they touch the inside of the vase. These wrapped leaves help to keep your arrangement close together, like the first image above with red tulip buds.