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How-To: Slow Flowers Bouquets

Make pretty, rustic bouquets with flowers from your yard or the famers market

Written by Debra Prinzing
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  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Slow Flowers

    One of the joys of gardening is to step out my back door and clip a few sprigs to bring inside. The day's prettiest blooms and just-unfurled leaves – gathered simply into a bunch and displayed in a jar of water – provide everything I need to start the day. The tiny arrangement graces my kitchen counter or brightens a spot by the keyboard, connecting me with the natural world even when I'm stuck indoors, away from my beloved garden.

    Is this floral design? I guess it is, but like many avid gardeners, I certainly never considered myself a florist. When I began a weekly flower arranging ritual, though, I discovered that there is great satisfaction in choosing blooms, foliage and other botanical elements – and then assembling them into a beautiful composition in just the right vase.

    As each season unfolded, so, too, did my passion for floral design. My experiment turned into Slow Flowers, a season-by-season, week-by-week book of ideas and inspiration for gardeners and DIY floral designers. My goal was to use only seasonal ingredients from my personal garden or blooms grown by local cut flower farms.

    A vase can be a little garden, its contents gathered and arranged to please the eye. So give it a try. Design a bouquet. Channel your inner floral designer and begin your own year with slow flowers.

    Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm (St. Lynn’s Press).
    Written and photographed by Debra Prinzing

    St. Lynn's Press, 2013
    $16.95
    144 pages, hardcover

    Photography: courtesy of Debra Prinzing

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Spring Bouquet

    A display of twigs, ferns, and flowering bulbs: Three simple ingredients that add up to a breath of fresh air in a spring vase.

    Go to the next slide for Step One.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Spring Bouquet: Step One

    Here's how I created this bouquet:

    Step one: Select a vase with relatively straight sides. This green glass vase measures 8-inches tall x 6-1/2-inches wide. Begin with branches. These become the framework to support all the other ingredients. I've used black pussy willow (Salix gracilistyla 'Melanostachys'), arranged so the stems tilt outward and overlap one another at the base

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Spring Bouquet: Step Two

    Add the maidenhair fern fronds, tucking their black stems in between the crossed willow twigs. 

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Spring Bouquet: Step Three

    Insert the daffodils, cut to a length so their trumpet-shaped blooms emerge just above the twig-and-frond composition.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Spring Bouquet: Final

    Together, this trio announces: Spring is (almost) here!

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Bouquet of Lilies

    I love old-fashioned metal or glass flower frogs. These floral design accessories offer today's flower-lovers an eco-friendly way to create bouquets - without using florists' foam, which is damaging to the earth and harmful to handle.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Bouquet of Lilies: Step One

    Place vintage metal frog in bottom of vase. This frog measures 2-3/4-inch tall x 5-1/4-inch in diameter. The container is a vintage English cachepot, 9-inches tall x 9-inches in diameter.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Bouquet of Lilies: Step Two

    Fill the vase with stems of lily-of-the-valley shrub (Pieris japonica), to fill the opening of the vase - let the drooping clusters of flowers cascade over the rim.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Summer Bouquet: Step Three

    Insert 7 stems of Asiatic lilies. These flowers will stay upright and perfectly positioned, stabilized by the flower frog and the pieris foliage.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Farmer's Market Flowers for a Summer Bouquet

    These are the freshest, most lovingly-grown summer flowers - straight from Choice Bulb Co., Jan Roozen's farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington. I met Jan at the farmers' market and brought these great ingredients home for a bouquet.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Summer Bouquet: Step One

    I chose a green etched-glass vase, 8-inches tall by 5-1/2-inches diameter. Then I added several goldenrod stems.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Summer Bouquet: Step Two

    Next, I clustered stems of Brodiaea coronaria, which has funnel-shaped, dark blue-purple flowers.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Summer Bouquet: Step Two

    Detail of Brodiaea coronaria.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Summer Bouquet: Step Three

    Then, I inserted 5 white dahlias, their stems shortened so they nestle between the other ingredients.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Summer Bouquet: Step Four

    Add taller elements, including foxtail lilies (Eremurus xisabellinus), allowing them to emerge from the lower ingredients for drama.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Summer Bouquet: Step Five

    Add ornamental allium (Allium 'Globe Master'). Their strong orb shapes play nicely with the linear foxtail lilies.

  • Courtesy of Debra Prinzing

    Summer Bouquet: Final

    Insert some smaller drumstick alliums (Allium sphaerocephalon) to echo the color and textures of other ingredients.

  • Take a look at Debra’s video tutorial on eco-floral design techniques or visit her website for more tips.

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