Siri Thorson on how to make the most of indoor displays during months of precious little daylight.
We expect a lot from our blooms. Not only must they evoke emotion and express our personal taste, they are cut and contorted to present their natural beauty in what are often unnatural shapes and situations. Siri Thorson adopted her family’s small organic farm on an island off the coast of Washington State, while travelling the world as a floral designer known for her wild and romantic style. Imperfect, striking and a little bit sad, her displays are likely to make lookers-on feel something unexpected, if only for a brief moment. She shares her advice on how to treat stems tenderly.
Tip one. Always start with a clean vessel. Give your containers a good wash using a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar, a natural disinfectant. Fill your vase as full as you can as flowers take up water not just from the ends but from the entire length of their stems. Change the water in your arrangements regularly to avoid bacterial growth.
Tip two. When arranging, cut stems with very sharp clippers at a 45 degree angle before placing them in your vase to help increase their uptake of water. At the same time, make sure you are removing any leaves or buds that will be below the waterline of your vessel. Leaves will rot in the water, turning your beautiful bouquet into a murky swamp.
Tip three. Make the most of fewer blooms. Invest in a kenzan, also called a pin frog or flower frog. Used in the Moribana school of Japanese ikebana for decades, these handy little things might look a bit like medieval torture devices but they will help anchor your stems in the bottom of a shallow or wide-mouthed vessel and give you more control over placement. Remember that just a few carefully selected flowers or branches in the right vase or collection of smaller vessels can be just as impactful and gorgeous as an armful of blooms. The fewer elements you use, the more deeply you can appreciate the subtleties and nuances of each petal, bract, berry, leaf and stamen.
Tip four. Just like food, flowers that are currently in season tend to be stronger, healthier and more long-lasting. It may not seem like much is blooming in December, but restriction gives birth to creativity. Poinsettias happen to be a very long lasting cut flower – just be sure to soak cut stems in water for at least half an hour before using them as their milky sap can be hard on other flowers. Seek out the more subtle, variegated varieties and combine them with forced narcissus, hellebores and a generous handful of weeds from around the neighborhood to create an arrangement that feels decidedly of-the-moment.
Lastly, consider everlastings. Dried flowers are gaining popularity lately and for good reason. There are so many beautiful varieties of everlasting blooms, grasses and seed pods that require next to no care and will last indefinitely in your home, especially when kept out of direct natural light.
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