April 2013 Newsletter

Eco-Friendly Flowers with Debra Prinzing

by Kit Wertz

Slow Flowers Book CoverAcclaimed garden writer Debra Prinzing, author of The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers, wants to show us the rich, floral bounty that is local and fresh. Inspired by the “slow food” movement which encourages people to grow and eat food that is both healthy and sustainable, Debra looks close to home for floral inspiration in her own backyard and nearby farms. In her new book, Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm, she takes us through the seasons to create 52 sensual bouquets using only locally sourced materials — even in winter.

This book is perfect for the DIY floral designer with expert tips, bouquet recipes, eco-friendly arranging techniques and a comprehensive index with climate zone information for each botanical ingredient. After speaking with Debra on the phone about her book, I am totally inspired by how she approaches floral design. It’s a natural, unforced view of how flowers can be displayed in your home or for a special event at any time of year. Even on the phone, I can tell she has a warm personality and it shows in her floral design which is featured so beautifully in the vibrant color photographs of her book.

Slow Flowers Book Cover
Pictured above is the cover of the new book by outdoor living expert Debra Prinzing. We’ll be hosting her at our studio on April 16th, 2013 for a wine and cheese reception, floral design demonstration and book signing. This is a free event open to the public.

On the cover of her new floral design book “Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm” (shown at left), she features a simple and beautiful spring arrangement made of two different colored Tulips, six stems of Curly Willow and 8 stems of Camellia japonica and describes the container she uses including the color and dimensions. For this design and the other 51 designs in the book, she talks about her thought process that went into the design, as well as the architecture used to create it and a complete flower recipe so you can recreate it.
Orchid Nest Detail
From “Slow Flowers,” here is a detailed look of an “Orchid Nest” design that Debra created.

I LOVE floral design books that give away all the details on how each design is made. It prevents you, the reader, from wondering, “How the heck did she do that?” and other perplexing questions like, “Just what the heck is THAT flower?” Debra answers all these questions and writes in an easy conversational tone that is easy to understand and free of any hard-to-understand floral lingo.

Los Angeles Flower Design Demonstration, Book Signing, and Reception – April 16, 2013

The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) will be part of this event. The CCFC is an organization funded by cut flower and greens farmers to help our California farms survive and thrive while ensuring consumers in the United States have quick and affordable access to the freshest, highest quality flower possible.

In her demonstration at our studio, Debra will show us all how to create floral designs that feature flowers and branches you can find close to home and even in your own backyard for every week of the year. She will also demonstrate how to use branches and chicken wire to secure stems in two different types of containers as opposed to using floral foam.

Please join us for wine, cheese, the free floral demonstration and book signing. Take the opportunity to come and meet with professional florists and floral enthusiasts like you.

Learn more about this free event and RSVP today.

Tips for Earth-Friendly Floral Design

by Kit Wertz

To go with our Earth Day theme this month and follow along in Debra’s footsteps, we thought it would be good to remind our readers of an extensive article we wrote about how to design with flowers in an eco-friendly way in our May 2011 newsletter. One of the tips we wrote about, but did not illustrate, was to design with Curly Willow as underwater architecture. Here is how that works:

Curly Willow
Curly Willow on Hand

Buy a bunch of short curly willow (it comes in three lengths).

Take a few stems and wrap around your fist before placing in a container.

Curly Willow in container
Freesia Spring Flowers
Repeat the process by making a few more little balls of Curly Willow until you feel you have enough in the container to give you a good structure. Fill the container with pre-mixed water and floral food. Add flowers such as Pink Jasmine, Freesia and Alstroemeria which are shown here. I harvested these from my garden to illustrate that you can design with just a few stems from your own backyard.

Make a Grid of Branches to Hold Stems

Grid for Stems
Photo from “Slow Flowers,” here is a stem grid that illustrates a visually appealing and sturdy option for displaying blooms in a cube vase.

Debra’s book is filled with great ideas for holding stems in a design using natural architecture like this grid method. She also includes a plethora of ways to keep certain flowers hydrated and what to expect from some flowers like Tulips once they are in a vase. She also talks about tools, supplies, flower and plant growers, and more earth-friendly floral techniques to help you design the “Slow Flowers” way.

Use Aspenwood Excelsior as Underwater Architecture

Excelsior Stems
In her book, Debra mentions a much more eco-friendly option to floral foam for keeping stems in place in a container. The beauty of this tip is that it looks nice in a clear container as well as a hidden one. (See floral tool tip at right for details on where to purchase.) Excelsior, also know as Aspenwood, is basically shredded wood that is primarily used for packing wine bottles for shipping in wooden crates. It’s also used a lot in crafts for packing gift baskets.

Untangle the masses of wood shavings before placing into your floral container and add water. Insert your stems into the mass of fibers which will hold them in place. After the floral design has wilted, the entire bouquet along with the wood fibers can be composted (which you cannot do with floral foam).

How to Rehydrate Boxed Cut Hydrangeas

by Kit Wertz

Boxed Hydrangea
Boxed Hydrangeas are the best option when you need to buy over 25 stems for a design. You’ll get fresh blooms and a great price per stem. Pictured above are 40 Hydrangea blooms in one box. Some boxes contain only 25 stems (depending on the grower and color of Hydrangea). Make sure when you need to order a lot of stems that you order by the stem count as opposed to the box count to ensure you are getting enough stems.

In March, we created a wedding that featured over 500 stems of white Hydrangea blooms (see photos of the event on our Facebook page). So, we made a call to Mayesh Wholesale Florist, and had 14 boxes delivered to our studio. Once we had them in hand, it was our job to take each one out of the box, remove the plastic protective sleeve from the head, cut off the water reservoir at the bottom of the stem, give it a dip in Quick Dip® and then let it sit in floral solution and water to rehydrate for 24 hours before we could create designs with them. Here are the steps we took to get these beauties ready for the event.
Sleeved Hydrangea
Hydrangea Water reservoir
Blooms arrive in plastic sleeves to protect them during shipping. As the florist processing the flowers, you have to remove this or it will cause moisture to become trapped and could start to wilt the blooms prematurely.  Hydrangeas need a lot of water and they are shipped with these little tiny bags of water at the bottom of the stem. It’s best to cut this off and Quick Dip® the stem before adding it to a bucket of fresh water and floral food. Read more about Quick Dip® in our January 2013 newsletter.
Hydrangea before
Hydrangea after

Top…the stem before we re-hydrated it and then, the fully-hydrated stem. What a difference!

Hydrangea In Bins
Some of the 500+ stems fully hydrated and ready for designing.
Hydrangea Designs ready to place
Some of the 100 designs we created for the event…ready to be placed in their vases on the tables.
Hydrangea on the tables
Here we are setting up at the At&t Center in downtown Los Angeles for the wedding which featured over 100 floral arrangements. Learn more about working with Hydrangeas from our August 2011 newsletter How to Buy and Arrange with Hydrangeas.


Video: Eco-Friendly Gather, Drop and Fill Technique Floral Design

by Casey Schwartz

Gather Drop and Fill Purple arrangement
Gather Drop and Fill – even a 7-year-old can do it!

I was recently asked to lecture at an educational facility about my career as a floral designer as well as demonstrate a technique of floral design. I was honored for being recognized for my career that started in Europe over 20 years ago. I was given a place to prepare, asked to lecture to three classes and only had 15 minutes for each lecture and demo which left about 10 minutes for questions.

I had to make the demonstration to each class very quickly, so our “Gather, Drop and Fill” technique was the one that came to my mind. My audience was a discerning group of experienced flower girls, ring bearers and wild daisy gatherers. Yes… I was speaking on Career Day at my son’s public elementary school. Second, third, and fourth grade classes made their way to where I was teaching. The second graders were a tough crowd, as they had been told not to talk and to be very quiet. All my jokes and silly design ideas had no effect. Finally, I left a rose a lot higher than all the other flowers and said, “Ok, I think we are done. This looks great.” I got a lot of huge eyes back at me and so I said, “That looks silly, it looks like a giraffe head sticking out of a tree.” The kids finally laughed. “Whew,” I thought.

For the main flowers of the demonstration I used white Alstroemeria and orange Roses. This is a great combo and easily found at Trader Joe’s on a regular basis. I did have some Berzillia Berry stems on hand and these added a lovely green shade with a delicate texture. Each class had great questions, interesting comments and all believed that they could recreate the arrangement after watching it done live.

I gave the teacher from each class a finished arrangement in recognition for all the work she does for our kids. That way the kids could enjoy the flowers for the rest of the day! This technique is quick fun and easy and instantly lovely. Plus, the combinations of flowers for this type of arrangement are seemingly endless. Give it a go and send us an image of your combination.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: fashioningflowers so you’ll know when we’ve uploaded a new show of our own!

Casey Schwartz of Flower Duet has appeared on Public Television’s Creative Living with Sheryl Borden the past two seasons and returned to Portales, New Mexico to film another set of five shows for the 2012-2013 season.

Flower Arranging Book Review

by Kit Wertz
Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm is an essential addition to your flower design library and would make a great gift for Mother’s Day!

Come to our studio to buy the book and have it signed by the author! Debra will also have her first book available for purchase and signing, The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers

Or purchase from Amazon.com.

Floral Design Tool: Aspenwood Excelsior

Aspenwood or Excelsior is a great alternative to floral foam for securing stems inside a low vase or floral container. Read all about this floral tool in our article on Eco-Friendly flowers in this month’s newsletter and order some from Amazon.com today. Quality Growers Natural Aspenwood Excelsior. We also found we could purchase it at The Container Store.

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