Expert Tips on How to Create Your Own Floral Arrangements
Owner of The Little Flower Shop, San Anselmo
What is in bloom right now?
In April and May we are still getting some of the amazing spring flowers: sweet pea, freesia, ranunculus, but we are moving more into peony season (everyone’s favorite!). Lilac, nigella, hyacinths, clematis and foxglove are the seasonal blooms that I get most excited about.
When planning a cutting garden, which plants are the most versatile?
The most important thing is plant what you love, and think year-round so you always have blooms. Typically, the stunners of a bouquet — roses, protea, peonies, lilacs, clematis and blooming branches — are more established plants that need a long-term time investment. Plant those, but in the short term, plant lots of others. My favorites are daffodils and narcissus, nigella, sweet peas, scabiosa, French tulips, lupine, zinnias, dahlias, Icelandic poppies and hellebore. Keep an open mind and find beauty in what your garden provides.
Any flower arranging techniques you can share?
Push yourself with heights when designing — some elements should be super low and others should be super high and the rest should graduate at different levels in between. The second most important tip is to always design with odd numbers (use three of every element). Last, trust yourself — pretty much all arrangements look “bad” until you are around 80 percent done, so just keep going.
Founder and Owner of Bloomingayles, Mill Valley
Where do you get your flowers from?
I source flowers and plants from various farms and ranches in Stinson Beach, West Marin and Sonoma and from local landscapers and gardeners in Mill Valley.
What have you recently planted in your own cutting garden?
My first love, roses! I wanted fragrant roses and certain colors. I recommend Just Joey, Elizabeth Taylor, Givenchy, Tropicana, Beautiful Day, Double Delight and Iceberg (for starters). I also chose pollinator plants, which feed birds, bees and butterflies. I love buddleia, alyssum, lavender and salvia apiana (sacred sage). All of these flowers are perfect for bouquets and creating arrangements for tablescapes, gifts, parties or petite bouquets beside the bed or on the kitchen windowsill.
What is the best way to extend the life of cut flowers?
It is very important to take care of your flowers. They will last much longer if you remove the foliage from the stem that is under the water, keep them safe from the heat and sun, change the water every other day and clean the vase — fill it with fresh water and give the flowers a new cut, and you will have much pleasure from them.
Floral Designer at Point Reyes Flowers, Point Reyes Station
What made you want to start a floral business?
My love of art and nature. I always have flowers and other natural things in the house. Even in winter there are things to be gathered: interesting branches, seedpods, etc. Dr. Andrew Weil tells us that bringing nature into our homes contributes to emotional well-being.
What are your favorite types of flowers to use this time of year?
Flowering quince, pussy willow, mock orange, gladiolus, sweet peas, daffodils, ranunculus, tulips, daphne and other things that say spring.
What do you suggest planting in a cutting garden?
Roses, daisies, sunflowers, zinnias, salvias (many types), dahlias, yarrow, rosemary, valerian, lavender, iris, delphiniums, gaillardia, woody perennials such as red twig dogwood, forsythia, olive trees. Many annuals and perennials will easily naturalize in Marin. Let nature do the work.
Any tips for mixing your own garden cuttings with wild flowers?
Be open to unexpected combinations; mix it up. Look for textural contrasts.