Each month, we cover a current event in the floral trade, florals from real weddings, our latest flower adventures and endeavors, design tips, current floral trends, floral design classes and workshops, book recommendations and floral tool tips.
Since 2010, we’ve created a hot list of what’s on for floral design in and beyond Southern California. As guest speakers inside and outside of California, we know what clients need in the wedding and event industry. We are your trusted resource for floral design tips and techniques for all levels of the flower enthusiast.
We are Kit Wertz and Casey Schwartz, the sister design team of Flower Duet. We are committed to educating our students and fans since we started our floral design business in 1999.
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Halloween Inspired Flower Decorating Ideas
This Thanksgiving arrangmement would look great on a front stoop or porch or on a buffet table. We used orange Marigolds, red Gerber Daisies and Broom corn in a hollowed out natural pumpkin. After hollowing out the pumpkin, spray the inside with bleach to keep it fresh a bit longer. Flowers by Flower Duet. Photo by Kit Wertz.
Trick or Treat? We believe flowers are a Treat any time of year, the Trick is making them last and look nice. Above, Casey made this design a few years ago inspired by our mutual love of Peeps Marshmallow treats. Black and Orange fabric inside a vase with some ghostly peeps, sets the mood to create something a bit more on the whimsical side.
Fall Flower Inspiration
Fall has officially arrived and shades of maroon, orange, dark purples have flooded the flower mart (for more on Fall Flowers – check out our September 2010 Newsletter). It is a lovely site. What to do with all these rich colors? How about planning a Halloween Party and making the perfect flower arrangement.
Flower Duet recommends the best containers are watertight and eco-friendly…so how about a hollowed out pumpkin as a vase? A tall slender pumpkin could host a tall dramatic arrangement with white larkspur and dark purple carnations, with some rust, maroon and orange mums.
Rich spooky colors are all apart of the season as the days grow shorter and the nights fall faster. Black Magic roses and Hocus Pocus Roses are a prefect mixed in with a spray of orchids which could look like a spider’s web.
Orange Asian Lilies are lovely this time of year…but remember if you want them to last — buy them closed, so they don’t bruise…however if you want them open for your event.…buy them early.
Cockscomb celosia looks like brains when clumped together. The colors are vibrating pinks and reds…sure to spook your guests.
How to make five Halloween Flower Spiders
We can just imagine how a few large faced sunflower spiders would certainly make an impression to your trick or treaters heading up your walkway. You could place these crawling out of your pumpkin too.
What to Buy:
1 bunch of 5 Sunflowers
1 bunch of greenery or cut greenery from your garden like Pittosporum or boxwood or even leaves of a lemon tree (be sure to give your garden greenery a good rinse before bringing them into the house to get rid of any real spiders!)
10 eyes from the craft store
10 black chenille stems
10 green chenille stems
1 red chenille stem
10 Zots or a hot glue gun
5 small water-tight containers
2 bricks of wet floral foam
Steps to Make a Sunflower Spider
Step 1: Soak floral foam with floral food mixture. See our June Newsletter on floral foam to learn more about this tool.
Step 2: Cut foam in 6 equal pieces and place 1 in each container. (You will have one piece left over. Place in Ziploc bag and put in the fridge to use for future – up to 3 months.)
Step 3: Remove yellow petals from each Sunflower and any greenery from each stem.
Step 4: Cut stems down to a good height to fit in your chosen vase.
Step 5: Glue on eyes with our September’s tool of the month Zots or usa a hot glue gun. If you are making these with your kids, be sure to handle the glue gun and cutters yourself.
Step 6: Cut the black and green chenille stems in half and placed them directly into the sides of the face of the sunflower to make legs.
Step 7: Cut the red chenille stem in 5 equal pieces to make the mouth of each sunflower and gently tuck them in place for each mouth.
Step 8: Add greenery around each spider sunflower face and enjoy!
Dia de los Muertos Centerpiece How-To
We review a great book this month on Centerpiece ideas – called Bouquets – A Year of Flowers and Settings for the Table by Marsha Heckman (see review at right) and the author created a design that was inspired by the Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead celebration.
Ms. Heckman used Cockscomb Celosia and Marigolds in the design in the book. We substituted more accessible orange Spider Gerber Daisies (10 stems) and dark maroon Carnations (25 stems) which turns out to be a simple purchase of one wholesale bunch each of each flower.
Ms. Heckman also suggests finding a cute, water tight container for this base of this design so Casey re-used a container that had held yummy fresh fruit from an Edible Arrangements gift she had received from a client. The green was a perfect color to add to the color blocking tiers of colors. Using a half a brick of wet floral foam, we placed it securely in the bottom of the container.
First we placed the Gerber Daisies around the edge of the design, but we pre-poked hole around the edge of the foam using a chopstick so each Gerber stem would slide in easily without breaking.
Then we fluffed up each Carnation (by petting each bloom out gently to coax the flower to open a bit more) before cutting the stems to form a mound design in the container. Be sure to remove any greenery off the part of the carnation stem that will go into the foam.
TIP: If you start placing each carnation stem closest to the Gerbers, then you can make a better judgment of how tall the stems will need to be in the middle of the design by the time you are ready to fill that in. So always start this type of a design from the outside in.
Libra Florascope — 23 September — 22 October — Rose
Rose (Libra) Traits
If you are a Rose (or Libra), you love being in love and are astute with finances. Good careers for Roses include environmentalists, diplomats, musicians, computer graphic designer, art dealer or image consultant. Roses have a practical side and are willing to put words into action Rose children are natural contenders in baby photo competitions. Roses get along well with other roses, cactus flowers, orchids, sunflowers, tulips, passion flowers and birds of paradise. Famous Roses include Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Michael Douglas, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Gershwin, John Lennon, Olivia Newton John, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sting and Catherine Zeta Jones.
About Roses — Botanical Information
A rose is a perennial flower bush of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae, that contains over 100 species and comes in a huge variety of colors. Roses that are grown for the commercial cut flower consumer in the United States primarily come from Columbia and California. Most of the commercial roses sold today have lost their scent in favor of longer stems and long-lasting blooms that are tolerant to pests in the growers’ fields. There are a few varieties you can still get that have a great scent – like the purple Lavanda rose.
Rose water, made from the rose oil, is widely used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine and now is a popular ingredient in cocktails. We’ll be talking about how to make your own rose water and how to make “flower cocktails” in our holiday season newsletter in December so look forward to that!
Rose hips (pictured at right) are occasionally made into jam or are brewed for tea, primarily for their high vitamin C content. They are also pressed and filtered to make rose hip syrup. Rose hips are also used in skin products and some makeup products.
Roses are ancient symbols of love and beauty and were sacred to a number of goddesses including Isis and Aphrodite. The rose is often used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary. In Rome a wild rose would be placed on the door of a room where secret or confidential matters were discussed. The phrase sub rosa, or “under the rose”, means to keep a secret — derived from this ancient Roman practice.
When Buying & Arranging with Roses
Choosing the Best Roses: Buy Roses when the blooms are still mostly closed and the greenery lively and not dried out. Make sure you can see all the folds of a rose’s petals when you are looking straight down into the bloom. If you see just a ‘cone’ of petals, choose another bunch. The cone might not ever open. You can also gently squeeze the base of the bud to see if it’s fresh. If the bud gives way in your fingers, the bloom is on its way to the compost heap.
Picking Roses from your Own Garden: Be sure to pick roses that are not too far open and pick them in the morning before the heat of the day has dried out the stems and the blooms. Carry a bucket of water and floral food mixture with you into the garden. When you harvest each stem, place it immediately into the bucket of water so the stem does not have time to seal up (less than 10 seconds). Blooms from the garden will not last as long as ones from the commercial grower, but by harvesting them in the cool morning with your handy flower food mixture, you should get a good 2–3 days out of the bloom in your home.
Remember, we always recommend to use floral food when you are arranging with roses (or almost any flower for that matter). See our August Newsletter on more about the benefits of using Flower Food in floral design.
This is a lovely book and was a gift to Flower Duet’s collection from a client.
Published in 2005, it is a timeless guide to decorating tables for simple, elegant and grand events. Ms. Heckman takes the reader through the seasons, working with flowers available accordingly, and she also transports us around the world with themes inspired by Mexico, Asia, France, Hawaii and the USA.
She invites friends to find containers in their homes to help build an eclectic collection of centerpieces for a wedding and uses photo frames as a base for Old Glory. This book Offers inspiration to look beyond the usual containers you may use for a vase and to work in what you might already have. Ms. Heckman also worked closely with her sister and mom on the designing. That is something Flower Duet knows a lot about!
We were inspired by her suggested design for Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead celebrated in Mexico just after our Halloween holiday. In most regions of Mexico, November 1st honors children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2nd. We made a similar design to the one she created in the book to show you how nice and clear her directions were to achieve this look. Check out the “Dia de los Muertos Centerpiece How-To” in this newsletter (at left).
Floral Tool — Floral Wire
The tool that is. Not wiring flowers to a client, but replacing floral stems with wire. Wire gives you the chance to lengthen stems to achieve the height you may need or to replace stems in a boutonnière or corsage to prevent the design from getting bulky.
This thin and often long tool is the key to creating boutonnières and corsages, as well as incorporating stem-less blooms like orchids into a bouquet or taller design. Wire is also used to secure greenery to wreath forms or garlands – and will be handy for upcoming fall and winter designs.
Floral wire is not used on its own to secure blooms to for a variety of design purposes, but is teamed up with stretchy and sticky floral tape to create a secure and worry free combination.
The floral tape not only hides the wire, but it also assists in holding the moisture in the stem.
There are many types of floral wire to choose from and we’ll talk about each.
Straight Wire in different Gauges
We use the wire that comes straight and 18” long. We can cut it to the size we need, and it works well for any shaping we would need. It’s commonly sold in 12lb. boxes but sometimes you can buy smaller amounts – depending on the supplier. The number of wires in each box depends on the gauge of the wire.
Wire is coated with green enamel to help prevent rusting and to help the wire blend in with the design.
It’s important to select the smallest gauge wire that will support the flower while also keeping it in place.
Gauge 16–18 – Thickest wire. Also called “Stub” wire, it’s very heavy, thick wire that does not bend easily, these work well to extend stems as they won’t bend under pressure. Don’t use too large a wire for a delicate stem or it will damage the flower and won’t be usable.
Gauge 20–22 – Medium thickness wire that is most commonly used. Great for creating florists bows and binding stems together.
Gauge 24–32 – Thinnest wire. The higher the number like 24 and 28 are much thinner and bend easily. This size works well to build corsage components. Giving you the ease of placing your pieces together closely and not add a lot of weight. Remember though that if the wire is too thin, the stem won’t be supported properly.
Travels well and is compact for your floral toolkit on site at venues. Paddle wire comes in different gauge sizes as well. Remember the higher the gauge number the more flexible and thinner the wire will be. We often use paddle wire for hanging wreaths by shaping it into loops and find it ideal for securing floral material to wreaths, forms or creating garlands.
Cloth Covered Wire
The cloth allows you to grip it easily, tie knots and hold stems securely. We see it used in artificial flower arranging and for cake making and decorating use. Cloth covered floral wire can be used as the stem when creating royal icing flower decorations on your cakes.
How to use Floral Wire Video
Flower Duet wired a few succulents with a technique called a single leg mount. Check out our free video here to see that technique.
Learn How to use Floral Wire during our Wedding Flower Workshop
If you are in the Los Angeles area we are offering a Wedding workshop this month at our South Bay Studio. We’ll be wiring a variety of flowers during that class, as well as building a bridal bouquet! Don’t miss it!