I touched on lots of good tips for using plants in decor in an earlier post, 9 Valuable Tips for Decorating with Plants. Rather than reiterate those tips, I’ll introduce a few more ideas to consider when decorating with flowers and plants.
FLORAL SHAPES CAN SPEAK VOLUMES
Greenery and flowers bring life and texture and color to a room. Florals can be as simple as a single stem in a jar to an elaborate mass of flowers filling a huge urn. Use them to reinforce a theme by choosing a flower in keeping with the style and color of your home.
Flowers that are long and spiky like gladiola, liatrus, bells of ireland, iris or delphinium used alone give a sculptural, modern look. Flowers that are round and daisy-like are casual – like gerberas, hydrangeas, lilacs, mums and dahlias. More formal flowers would be ones like roses, calla lilies or orchids. Wildflowers make the most casual arrangments and using poppies, yarrow, queen anne’s lace, baby’s breath, cornflowers, phlox or any of the many other wildflowers will instantly make the most formal flower take on a new persona. Tropical flowers are kind of their own category: anthurium, heliconia, protea - they are generally more exotic looking, harder edges and big in scale, you don’t often find them blended in with gardeny arrangements.
Liatris are always nice and straight and upright, last a long time and can be used alone for a very rigid arrangement or used to define the shape of a mixed flower arrangement.
As a florist, Bells of Ireland were always one of my favorite flowers to use. Ususual in shape, bright apple green color and a fresh ‘green’ scent make them a versatile flower.
ROUND, CASUAL FLOWERS
A great casual flower, the versatile gerbera daisy comes is so many colors that it’s easy to use them to support a color theme. Although your local grocery store may only carry the more usual colors like the picture, visit a florist and see variegated ones, petite ones, or a double daisy. The one flaw they have is that if the stems are left long and they don’t get enough water (usually the stem wasn’t cut before putting it in water), they tend to get floppy heads very quickly.
Like gerbera daisies, dahlias come in every color (except blues) and shape and size. They are generally a long lasting cut flower and make a great addition to a gardeny arrangement.
This is a great example of how NOT to display calla lilies. Their stems are often quite long and straight, so putting them in this vase that keeps them so upright doesn’t do them justice. At a minimum they should be at staggered heights, or cut shorter so the flower heads relate more to the vase opening. Even the addition of some long bear grass stems or a couple branches of curly willow would help immensely. (just my humble opinion)
Dendrobiums are one of the more common types of orchid. Orchids are known for their exotic look, graceful drape and vivid colors. Real plants will last a long time, cut stems are one of the longest lasting cut flowers and their beauty is undisputed. Though they have no scent, they are a welcome floral touch on a bathroom vanity, on a bedside table, or massed in a big pot for a dining room centerpiece or on an entry table.
Roses are a perennial favorite – they say romance and elegance and formality all at the same time. However, as with most things, roses have another side.
Roses can be more casual if you cut their stems short and snug them up close together. Or go totally gardeny and let the roses really open up, add lots of soft filler and some dainty wildflowers and enjoy the softer side of roses (below). ** Here’s a secret floral designer tip: If a rose head starts to droop, pull the flower out and submerge it flat in a sink of lukewarm water for 15 or 20 minutes. Recut the stem under water (cut about an inch off) and put the flower back in the arrangement. It will totally revitalize the flower and you’ll easily get another few days enjoyment from it. **
Mother Nature didn’t create very many naturally blue flowers – hydrangeas are one. They come in all ranges of blue from soft pastel through to deep purples. Hydrangeas are lovely grouped in big lush bunches, but beware – they don’t last very long as a cut flower so if you’re going to use them for an event, get them only a day ahead. This is one instance where silk flowers have a definite advantage and there are some pretty realistic options available.
In the same general category as the hydrangea, peonies are another of my favorite flowers to use. They are available mostly in pinks or white, and have a wonderful delicate scent. They have a small window of availability and don’t last terribly long in arrangements (definitely not in florist foam, they do better in vase arrangements), but are worth the splurge when you can. Peonies are such a versatile flower (like roses) that they work well in formal styles, lush gardeny mixes or contemporary, single bloom bouquets.
WILDFLOWERS AND FILLER FLOWERS
Wildflower and filler flowers are the last ‘category’ of flowers. Generally they have smaller heads, less rigid stems, come in all colors and you’ll find them in your garden, alongside the road, in the fields. Use them liberally to fill in around the bigger focal flowers for a truly lush arrangement. Or, just put a stem or two in several vases and group the vases together for a quick flower fix.
Ginger blooms come red, pink and white, have thick, very sturdy stems and are perfect to create height in a tropical arrangement. They would also work well in the line flower category and have a decidedly modern feel.
Many protea varieties have velvety petals and their shape reminds me of artichokes. However, pincushion protea offer a different look – airy and very textural and perhaps the easiest tropical flower to blend with gardeny flowers.
Of course, these are only a small representation of flowers available – and I encourage you to explore and experiment and embrace adding flowers to your rooms. Fresh flowers are so readily available and fairly affordable (look for seasonal specials) that it would be a shame to deprive yourself of the small luxury of occasional fresh flowers. Explore your local florist too. You’ll find all sorts of unusual things that grocery stores don’t carry. You don’t have to buy a $50 bouquet; florists will sell by the stem so just pick something you like and buy one or two stems for a bud vase.
This post ended up going a different direction than I expected. I had planned to show ways to use flowers in various rooms in your home, but as I began I realized that a quick education of shapes and styles of flowers might be a helpful introduction. Check back tomorrow for the post I intended to write today…….all about how/where/when to use floral arrangements in the home.