Squish, Squash and Simply Gourd-geous – Try adding Gourds and other Dried Organic Items to Your Fall Floral Designs
by Casey Schwartz
Fall Gourds from a farm stand in Reston, Virginia last month. Photo: Kit Wertz
Many Uses for Pumpkins
The most well known gourd is the pumpkin. It comes in all sizes and the classic round shape is most often found, but certainly not the only shape. Head to your local pumpkin patch or grocery store and pick out a pumpkin. To make a vase, cut around the stem and pop off the top, scoop out the seeds and pulp, fill the pumpkin with water, add fresh flowers and voilà, you have nature’s own perfect floral container. It is reasonably priced, watertight, you can select the size you need and you can throw it in the compost pile when your squash starts to squish.
Save the seeds you scooped out to make a crunchy snack. Just rinse them, place on a cookie sheet, add a little salt and cook at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until they start to pop and turn slightly brown.
Foam Pumpkins Last a Long Time
An alternative is to use a foam pumpkin. Artificial foam pumpkins are available in a brilliant bright orange color with a thick skin that can easily be adorned with flowers, ribbon, or a Sharpie marker pen. You could spray paint them or cover them in glue and add glitter. There are a few companies that make these and they are wonderful. Funkins is the most well known and sold online and at some craft stores. These foam pumpkins can be carved just like the real thing and won’t rot. They can be used every year with either battery lights inside if you carve a face, or just carve out a lid off and add flowers.
Photo Source: Funkins.com.
Gourds in Floral Design
Smaller gourds like these pictured at left and top are abundant at grocery stores and famers’ markets in the autumn. They add great texture and their colors work so well with the palette of fall flowers. Simply insert a floral pick or bamboo skewer into the bottom of the gourd and add to your arrangement.
Dried Floral Decorations
To extend the life of your floral design, try adding dried Lotus pods, such as Kiya, Hakea, or Frog’s Mouth. Or, add Ting Ting, a rigid grass from Asia. It’s long, comes in a few varieties such as Magdalena, Straight or Twisted Ting Ting and is sometimes even glittered! (We like the plain and natural Ting Ting.) It is easy to cut and place low in arrangements or to keep tall to add gentle height to designs without the bulk.
Make Your Own Gourd-geous Floral Design with Flower Duet
Join Flower Duet at The Huntington Library later this month to create a floral arrangement using gourds and dried floral elements such as the ones mentioned above. Book now while there is still space. The bonus of booking a class at The Huntington, is that you have a pass for the day to stay and enjoy the lovely gardens and art collections.
We shared Kit’s succulent wreath that we created at the end of September. It has been resting and rooting for the past month and is just about ready to hang. I made one as well and I have watched it transform and fill in over the past month. The sedum has grown and filled in and the jade is blooming (pictured above.)
Flower Duet’s Mini Succulent Nursery
We have been so enamored with succulents over the past couple of years that we have found ourselves with a rather large collection of plants which in turn continues to offer a bountiful harvest to create wreaths and other succulent-based floral designs. Just a few years of plantings afforded over 700 cuttings which were transferred into six wreaths for the upcoming holidays.
We decided that our passion for succulents was far from waning, so I decided to turn an underused part of my backyard into a succulent nursery.
Before the transition in the backyard…
To create a comfortable growing environment, we collected abandoned wood shipping pallets left near to our floral design studio, added legs to them and gave each one a few coats of “Oops paint” to protect them. “Oops paint” is found at hardware stores or paint shops. The paint color was custom mixed for a customer, but it was not quite right so it’s offered for sale at a fraction of the original price. Sometimes a gallon of high end exterior semi-gloss paint drops from $35.00 to $5.00 just to get it out of the store.
After the transformation into a new nursery ready for plantings!
Those odd oranges, yellow and blues are perfect for adding a pop of color in a rather green pallet of succulents. We also used pots and containers from past succulent plant purchases, replanted cuttings and we have separated some of our succulents that have just gotten too big for their containers.
We will be offering some great floral design classes working with succulents and fresh flowers, as well as living art.
Flower Duet offers a variety of services including custom floral designs for weddings, corporate events, birthday parties, Bat Mitzvahs and Bar Mitzvahs, retirements, sympathy designs, hotel installations, restaurant installations and more! We also teach flower arranging at our design studio in the South Bay of Los Angeles and at The Huntington Library in San Marino. We offer custom private lessons, flower arranging parties, workshops and flower tours throughout the year. Each class, workshop, party and lesson reflects seasonal flowers and the current hot floral design trend.
We Love Our Floral Design Students
We have a wide variety of students who attend our classes. Many of them are wedding planners who want to learn the basics of floral design just in case they need to fix a centerpiece or boutonniere during a wedding. We also have a lot of budding floral entrepreneurs, many of whom just bought a floral shop and then realize, they need to learn the ropes – and quickly! For these students, we offer a custom set of classes which accommodates each student’s individual needs.
Calling all Floral Enthusiasts and Flower Hobbyists
Our “floral enthusiast” students continue to amaze us. We have a number of regular floral denizens who return to our classes each month and continue to challenge us to create new flower arrangements and techniques that represent the current trend. These wonderful students, men and women, are game to meet the challenges. We continue to be amazed, too, with our new floral design students. These flower enthusiasts are often stunned to find their hidden talent following a nervous arrival to our floral design workshops or classes. If you have never tried a flower arranging class, please join us. We will teach you what you need to know to have the confidence to buy flowers, make them look great in a design and have that design last a long time in the vase or container.
Young Floral Designers Rule!
We are also inspired by the young designers who wow us every time they listen and watch our floral design demonstrations and then go on to create amazing designs. Each year, we teach a number of children’s classes at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif. for children ages 7 through 12. They come up with unique variations of our designs.
2012 schedule (so far)
Flower Duet Design Studio and Showroom, Torrance, Calif.
All classes follow optional tours of the Los Angeles Floral District on Saturday mornings. Tours take place in downtown LA from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and workshops are held from 10 a.m. to Noon.
- January 28, 2012 – Succulents Class – Learn how to combine succulents and fresh flowers in a modern floral design.
- February 25, 2012 – Tropicals Class – Use tropical or exotic flowers to create an on-trend design.
- March 24, 2012 – Wedding Bouquet Class – Hand-tied bouquets that can be used as centerpieces as well!
- April 21, 2012 – Spring Centerpiece Class – Inspired by the colors and flowers of spring, students will work with ranunculus.
- May 19, 2012 – Arranging with Tulips Class – Learn the ins and outs of working with tricky tulips.
- June – December 2012 – More to come! Stay tuned to our workshops page.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, Calif.
All Classes are on Saturday mornings. Adult classes are 10 a.m. to Noon. Kids’ classes are from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Each child must be aged 7-12 and accompanied by an adult. Each flower arranging class is inspired by a garden, art piece or exhibit from The Huntington.
- January 21, 2012 – Chinese Garden Inspired – Chinese New Year arrangement using traditional flowers and greenery elements. Adults’ and Kids’ Classes
- March 3, 2012 – Desert Garden Inspired – Living art piece with succulent plants. Adult Class
- April 28, 2012 – Shakespeare Garden Inspired – Tall hand-tied arrangement in a vase. Adults’ and Kids’ Classes
- June 2, 2012 – Japanese Garden Inspired – Working with cypress and fresh flowers for a Bonsai style design. Adult Class
- September 8, 2012 – California Grown Flowers – Use garden Dahlias in a loose open style design. Adults’ and Kids’ Classes
- October 20, 2012 – Herb Garden Inspired – Create a centerpiece using floral foam, fresh herbs and fresh flowers. Adult Class
- November 17, 2012 – Australian Garden Inspired – Using flowers and greenery native to Australia, students will create a long-lasting design. Adult Class
- December 15, 2012 – Jungle Garden Inspired – Get a little untraditional with a tropical wreath! Adults’ and Kids’ Classes
Fresh Flower Arranging by Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks
Published earlier in 2011, this floral design book has amazing photos, step-by-step instruction, and on-trend designs. In our classes, we often refer to the floral designers in the UK as being cutting edge, and this book, by UK publisher, DK Publishing is up to the task. The best flower arranging books are the ones that show a gorgeous flower design followed by photos and instructions for each step of the design. It is in this aspect that Fresh Flower Arranging does not disappoint its reader. It offers photos and descriptions of each flower and greenery stem in the design, how many stems to buy, what type of container, how to create the stem architecture, which greenery or flowers to add first and each step of the creation so you can easily recreate the design. This is a must-have for your floral library. Download a free PDF on How to Create a Cherry Blossom Tree featured in the book and then order the book for your reference today!