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Floral Arrangement Tutorial

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How to Arrange Flowers The Prudent Homemaker

This post contains affiliate links.

I took a floral arranging class as a university student. I often say that that class and my public speaking class are the two most practical classes I attended.

Floral arrangement styles have changed over the years. I follow several florists on Instagram (who have styles I love but that are very different from what I learned), many of whom are also the growers of those flowers, and they have inspired me to grow flowers I have never grown before. I find myself really drawn to very full arrangements, and in order to achieve those, I need to be able to cut more flowers at once from the garden. In the past, my arrangements have been smaller, because I had fewer flowers in bloom at the same time. Changing the layout in my garden beds has allowed me to plant more flowers.

Want to grow more flowers in your garden without spending a ton? Check out my article on Growing Flowers for Less.

Earth Angel Roses The Prudent Homemaker

When cutting flowers from your garden, it's important to cut them early in the morning to reduce wilting. I find that the closer to dawn I cut, the longer my flowers last. This is even more important in summer when dawn temperatures are quite warm.

Cut your flowers at an angle with sharp shears, and remove any leaves that will be below the water line to keep the flowers lasting longer.

Floral Arrangement 1 The Prudent Homemaker

I like to use chicken wire balled up inside a wide-mouthed urn to hold my flowers in place. Chicken wire will rust after a few uses, but it's still useable. I prefer to use it inside a container where it won't show for that reason. In a clear vase, I'll use a flower frog.

You can use floral preservative, but you can also use an aspirin in the water, or just change out the water each day to keep disease from taking hold in your vase. At the very least, add water to your arrangement each day (which is usually what I end up doing). Fresh water each day is best, as it gives your flowers needed oxygen.

 Floral Arrangement 2 The Prudent HomemakerI started my arrangement with any long greenery that I want to use on both sides. Here I'm using Bells of Ireland, which I grew from seed. These are a long flower that usually grows tall, but mine grew more sideways with our constant wind, so I decided to use them this way instead. Often I'll use vines here, such as honeysuckle.

Floral Arrangement 3 The Prudent Homemaker

I use the chicken wire to hold the stems in place. I prefer chicken wire over floral foam for many reasons: it's less expensive, it can be reused, and you can move your stems if you don't love where you first put them.

Floral Arrangement 4 The Prudent Homemaker

The next thing I added is a large Cafe au Lait dahlia on each side. A large flower or three are easy to add at the beginning. If you have several large blooms, the general rule for flower arranging is to have an odd number of them. In this case, I only had two dahlias in bloom, but on each side of the table, only one will be visible.

Floral Arrangement 5 The Prudent Homemaker

 Next, I added in several roses from the garden. These are a combination of David Austin and Kordes roses.

Floral Arrangement 6a The Prudent Homemaker

 Lastly, I added short bits of honeysuckle in bloom. 

Floral Arrangement Tutorial 6 The Prudent Homemaker

In my garden, I try to always have something ripe to eat throughout the year. I am now working to also always have flowers in bloom to be able to cut flowers each week for the house. It means doing a lot of succession planting and also seeking out flowers for each season of the year. Erin at Floret has a great article on succession planting; it's designed for flower farmers, but you can apply the same technique in your own garden.

June Floral Arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

This is the other side of the arrangement. Having enough flowers in bloom in the garden at the same time  for this full of an arrangement is a challenge for me, but I am planting more flowers each year so that I can make arrangements this large more often for our home.

Looking to learn more? Here are two great floral arranging books from two of my favorites:

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Bloom Where You Are Planted

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It's in the upper-80's here (about 30º C) and I'm spending every possible minute outside, working in the garden. I am working to make a more abundant garden this year, with more food and flowers than ever before.

While the front yard is a white garden, the backyard is where I plant flowers of several colors. I can see most of these from inside the house as I look out the windows.

March View From the Door The Prudent Homemaker

Daffodils in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

The daffodils are in bloom along with several of the fruit trees.  They smell wonderful.

March Sunrise 1 The Prudent Homemaker

I am loving the pink from my peach trees. I am hoping to see lots more color in the garden later this year, as I have planted both pink and yellow rose bushes and seeds for poppies, larkspur, and zinnias.

March Daffodils in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

 

March Miniature Daffodils The Prudent Homemaker

The miniature daffodils I planted around the circle have come up. They are teeny tiny.

March Sensation Lilac The Prudent Homemaker

I added a new lilac bush to my garden this spring, which doesn't require any chilling hours. It's called Sensation. I like having some purple in the back of the bed. The violet-crowned hummingbird that I have been seeing in the garden this spring has already found this new bush.

March Pots The Prudent Homemaker

This corner is full of nasturtium flowers, and you can see more of the miniature daffodils, which I planted in all of the large pots on the patio. Nasturtiums are one of the least expensive ways to add flowers to the garden; you can buy seeds just about everywhere, they spread out (and down) and they reseed readily. You can collect seeds to plant next year if you don't get enough volunteers, or if you just want more to plant in more places. As a bonus, both the flowers and leaves are edible.

March White Bench The Prudent Homemaker

I really enjoy the birdsong while I am out working in the garden. 

I'm planting more flower seeds today. I hope to have many more flowers out here later this year!

March Bee on Pear Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

 

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Thanksgiving Centerpiece final The Prudent Homemaker

A low floral arrangement works well at a meal, so that you can see over it to converse with the people across from you.

I started with a wide-mouthed pint-sized canning jar. You can use anything you have--an old jar that used to have food in it, a short glass--just something wide enough that it won't tumble over from being top heavy.

Fill the glass with lukewarm water if you're cutting fresh from the garden (and cool water if you're using storebought flowers). Over the next week, when you need to add more water to the arrangement, use cool water.

This time of year, I don't have a lot of flowers blooming in the garden, so I planned an arrangement that is mostly mixed greenery. If you don't have any flowers in your garden this time of year, but still have some evergreens, you can still make a beautiful arrangement with just the greenery, or you can add a small amount of storebought flowers to complete the arrangement.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 1 The Prudent Homemaker

I started this with a few vines that needed to be trimmed from the walkway. I cut passionfruit vine and Lady Banks' rose vines for each side of the arrangement.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 2 The Prudent Homemaker

I then cut and added euyonomus branches that needed to be trimmed. When I pruned my hedge in October, I left a few spots untrimmed so that I could cut from them later for arrangements. I pulled the leaves off anything that would be underwater, as leaves underwater drastically shorten the vase life of arrangements. These branches will last for 3 weeks or more after being cut.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 3 The Prudent Homemaker

I then cut some lavender, again tearing off any leaves that would be below the water line. Though it is not blooming at this time of year, the lighter shade of the greenery add a nice contrast in the arrangement.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 4 The Prudent Homemaker

Next I added three sprigs of dusty miller. Since this is bigger, and almost flower-like, adding an odd number of stems is good. As this arrangement is two sided, make sure to look at both sides of the arrangement when adding items.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 5 The Prudent Homemaker

I then added in my flowers. I cut three stems of roses from the few in the garden. Ideally, I would have many more than this, and there is room in the arrangement, but this is what I have blooming in the garden right now. 

Thai Basil The Prudent Homemaker

For a little more color, I added in some Thai basil flowers. If you don't have anything small flowering, you could add in some skinny bare branches.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 6 The Prudent Homemaker

When I was done, I set the glass jar into a silver-plated medium sized mint julip container, but of course it can be left the way it is. You can also start out by tying a bow around your jar before you begin you arrangement.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece final The Prudent Homemaker

 

A note if using storebought flowers: You should always recut the stems of any flowers you buy before putting them in water to extend the vase-life. For a low arrangement like this, you'll be cutting them a lot shorter than they were when you purchased them. Cut individual stems different heights to fill out your arrangement. 

Grocery stores often carry less-expensive individual flowers to make your own arrangements. I've found the lowest prices and greatest selection at Alberston's. They carry bunches of individual flowers for $3 to $4 a bunch. I've occasionally also seen individual flower bunches at Walmart (especially carnations) for $3 to $5. 

You can also use this method to arrange a grocery store Thanksgiving bouquet. Start with greenery from your yard, and then add in the greenery from your arrangement, adding in the flowers last. Often there is one odd flower in mixed bouquets. If you don't want to include it in your arrangment, try putting it in a seperate bud vase (an old vinegar jar works well for this, too) to enjoy elsewhere in the house. Don't feel obligated to include all of the flowers in your arrangement if you don't like the way they look together--just make something different with the others.

Roses have the shortest vase life of this bouquet. They can be pulled out when they have died, and replaced with something else, or the arrangement can continue to look good for weeks with just the greenery.

Be sure to add more water each day, and change out the water completely as often as possible, replacing it with cool, clean water.

 

 

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Happy May Day!

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May Day Flowers The Prudent Homemaker

 Have a wonderful first day of May!

Poppy The Prudent Homemaker

 

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Larkspur and Rose arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

It was another windy week, though there were some still hours in which I managed to get outside to do some work in the garden.

I picked mulberries from my neighbor's tree. The wind and birds had aleady claimed quite a few. It was too windy to risk picking on the extension ladder, so I only picked a small amount. I froze what I picked to use in smoothies.

I planted basil, vinca, zinnia, borage, and portulaca seeds in the garden.

With permission, I took cuttings from my neighbor's honeysuckle plants and planted them in my garden.

I cut flowers, branches, and vines from the garden for indoor arrangements.

I bought a beautiful bookcase off a Facebook garage sale page for a wonderful price (and paying for a third of it from money I've made selling items on that same site). I had intended for this to go in the boy's room, but it was too tall to fit through the hallway to get into their room, so we added it to the library. Because of the original plan to put it in the boys' room, I ended up doing some bookcase switching anyway. I moved the cabinet with shelves (that has doors on it) to one girls' room, and the boys other short bookcase to the other girls' room. I moved the taller bookcase from one girls' room to the boys' room. The switch ended up being just what they all needed to be more organized.

Our vaccum died last week. Having to replace a vaccum doesn't seem like a frugal thing--however, this vaccum started giving us trouble several years ago--it is an upright that would even break in half on a regular basis!  We worked on it before and made it keep working for us. When it first started looking like it was time for a new vaccum, I researched and added the one I wanted to my Amazon wish list. My husband suggested we keep using the vaccum (we would put it back together each time it fell apart) and I put off buying the new one--for four years! Now that I had to replace it, I was able to not only get a great price on Amazon, but they also had a bonus $20 off coupon; all I had to do was click the button and the $20 off was applied to the total!  (I must have hit just the right day for the coupon, too, because it wasn't on there the next day when I went to look at it online again). After four years, I saw that the model I researched still has high reviews. It is also bagless and the filters can be washed. 

My husband cut his hair.

My husband and I went out for lunch on my birthday to Firehouse Subs, since they have a free birthday 8" sandwich. I had never been there before; I thought their options looked delicious and my sandwich was very good! We both had water to drink and my husband bought himself a sandwich (we didn't get any sides) so our lunch was just the cost of his sandwich. It was a nice date.

Dill Seeds The Prudent Homemaker

I collected dill seeds and snow pea seeds from the garden.

I cut lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and parsley from the garden. My lettuce is usually bolting and turning bitter this time of year, but I continued to plant every couple of weeks, and so I have newer lettuce than usual this time of year. In addition, the hot temperatures that we had at the beginning of the month were blown away by the colder wind storms that have come through, which has been a blessing in keeping the lettuce growing well.

I picked white and red strawberries.

What did you do to save money last week?

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Ivory's Blue and White Birthday

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Ivory Birthday The Prudent Homemaker

About a year and a half ago, I found a beautiful piece of fabric on Black Friday. It was just a little bit (a yard and 3/8) and there was enough to make a dress for Ivory if I made it while she was young.

This piece of fabric became my theme for her party--blue and white, which seems fitting for a blue-eyed girl named Ivory!

Ivory birthday dress The Prudent Homemaker

The dress is made from the Pascale pattern. This pattern is my absolute favorite pattern; I use it for everything! It has so many variations. I have a copy from the inside of Sew Beautiful magazine from years ago. It's a basic bodice dress with buttons in back. I used blue buttons I bought on a 50% off sale at JoAnn's. The collar is made from white muslin. The dress cost me under $9 in supplies.

Ivory Bracelet The Prudent Homemaker

I made her a matching bracelet with beads I bought on 50% off sale last year at Michael's. This was super simple; I strung the beads on a piece of clear stretch elastic that you can find in the bead section.

Ivory headband The Prudent Homemaker

Her headband is one I recovered (I cut off the original covering). The ribbon that you see is a ribbon that I bought on clearance many years ago. The bottom part of the headband is a navy blue grosgrain ribbon. I cut out two pieces for the bow and sewed it by hand, and then sewed it onto the top ribbon by hand. I then sewed both ribbons together down the sides, leaving the ends open. I slid this over the plastic headband. I folded the ends over twice near the inside bottom of the headband and sewed them closed by hand.

Ivory Imp The Prudent Homemaker

She loves headbands. I made her another one for her birthday too (not pictured) from white grosgrain ribbon. I put a bow on that one as well.

Blue and White Table The Prudent Homemaker

For decorations on the table, I went really simple: blue glass bottles I've had for years with a single stem of snapdragons cut from the garden, and the blue and white vase I found at a garage sale last fall (for $2) filled with more white flowers from the garden, all on a white table runner.

White Flowers in Blue and White Pot The Prudent Homemaker

Ivory giggles The Prudent Homemaker

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