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November 1999 Issue
Creating a Focal Point
by Jenny Wojcik
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Almost everyone I know agrees on flowers. Nothing makes us feel quite as special as flowers do. Whether you are young, old, male, or female, flowers are just pleasant things to give or receive. And in the throws of winter, nothing else gives us quite the same hope of spring as a bountiful bouquet. The holidays are special times that we tend to share more with others, and flowers can make a get-together feel a bit more unique.

Live flowers are more readily available than ever before. It is common to find live flowers and greenery in our local grocery stores, some drug stores, and vegetable stands. Many carry stems, plants and bouquets as well as common fillers like delicate baby’s breath and festive fern. Some of the larger grocery chains will actually put arrangements together for you while you shop, some offer pre-assembled arrangements while others simply provide you with the flowers, and you create your own arrangement.

Floral shops are plentiful, offering a wide selection of flowers and floral accoutrements including containers, floral wire, tape, and the like. Additionally, florists are talented, trained professionals who can provide you with a wealth of information. Many people don’t realize that a florist will sell you “just flowers” – not necessarily arranged or in a pot or vase. The do-it-yourself flower arranger can purchase all your supplies here, as well as flowers that are not “in season” or plentiful elsewhere. (If they’re out of season or rare, they always cost more, so keep that in mind.)

Flowers often come from friends and loved ones for special occasions. My belief is that I always deserve flowers, and I treat myself to them regularly. Maybe you do too. So you buy flowers because you know that you’d like to have them in your home, but other than putting them into a crystal vase that someone gave you for your wedding or graduation or an anniversary, you don’t know where to start. There’s help and hope, here.

Let’s talk about containers. There are pots for flowers and vases for flowers, yes. We’re familiar with them. I have a few secrets though. Flowers can be arranged in almost anything. What about buckets, glasses, and mugs. How about tea cups or soup cans? Have you ever considered boxes? How about a cardboard cylinder that you’ve made from a file folder? How about a gift bag or a plain brown bag with rope handles? How about baskets? There are a million things that you can easily find and/or create to hold your flowers and make them more uniquely special.

There are things that you have around the house that will help to enliven your floral arrangements. For example, ribbon. It’s the time of year when we have lots of ribbon around. Even if you’re the type that buys the stick on bows, you probably have some plain old ribbon laying around. If you are a crafter, you probably have some raffia, as well as ribbon with wire embedded in the edges (great stuff!). You might have some fabric left over from a project – we can certainly put that to work – and maybe if all else fails, you have some tea towels that are colorful and available for other uses. You may also have some small hat boxes that could either be painted or covered with a nice paper (wallpaper works well here).

If you like arranging flowers, you probably have some supplies like frogs (no, not the leaping green kind, but the flat on the bottom, needle bristles sticking up kind that hold flowers in place), glass marbles and green florist’s tape. Floral foam is essential too. You can soak the “bricks” in water until the bubbles stop, then you know it’s full of life-giving water for your flowers.

Great, now look around in your yard. Do you have some interesting looking sticks, or evergreen or perhaps a bush laden with berries? Those are wonderful things to have at your doorstep. Plan to take cuttings and incorporate them into your flower arrangements.

With these materials, we are already on our way to creating some beautiful floral centerpieces for our homes and gifts for our friends. Now for the simple rules: flowers grouped together look better in odd numbers; 1, 3, 5 etc. and should be cut fresh under running tepid water to extend their lives. It’s also best to remove leaves from stems below the water line. That’s it. No more rules.

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