How to…..Summer Garden Bouquets

by Kat Weatherill

Simple Summer Hand Tied Bouquet

Its lovely having flowers in the garden but its even more of a joy to have flowers for the home. All to often though, it feels an extravagance to just spoil yourself and if you wait for other people (or your other half!) to treat you you can be waiting a while! So today I thought I’d share with you some basic tips for creating beautiful budget bouquets for home or to treat a friend…..

The contents of the bouquet can vary but the principles are the same. In this bouquet I used mostly flowers and foliage from my garden and from the hedgerow which I collected while out walking the dog this morning! These “bulking out” flowers and foliage are fillers. This allows you to keep spending in check. My feature flowers in this bouquet are scented Stocks, British grown, which are readily available from your local florist and even the supermarket. Please try to support either your florist or local cut flower grower before you but from the supermarket. I know if your busy working, its not always easy but please try and do buy British Flowers whenever possible. Expect to pay somewhere around £5 for between 5 and 7 stems of Stocks.

The tools you require are minimal – a good pair of secatures, scissors, narrow ribbon or  raffia for tying the bouquet and a vase or jug of water to put the flowers in both before and after arranging.

For this arrangement I bought 7 stems of Stocks and in addition, I cut from the garden – fern leaves x 5, Alchemilla molls (Lady’s Mantle) x 7 stems, Nepeta (Cat Mint) x 5 stems, Astrantia x 3 stems, Allium Purple Sensation x 3 (these were 3 small flowers left in the garden, most of this variety of Allium have finished flowering now but if you plant some in autumn in a area of semi shade, they flower later that normal) From the hedgerow, I collected Cow parsley x 3 stems and meadow grass x 10 stems. Remember, as soon as you have cut any flowers or foliage, get them in to water and allow them to have a good drink before you arrange them.

Let you flowers are foliage have a long drink before you begin arranging them

Once your flowers have been in water for around 30 mins, you can begin to make your hand tied bouquet. Firstly, prepare all your stems by removing any excess foliage and leaves that would be below the tying point or that would be submerged in water. This will help the bouquet last longer. Any foliage that is in the water will rot quickly, causing the water to smell and go cloudy. It will allow bacteria to grow, shortening the life of the fresh flowers.

Before and after – remove all excess foliage from the stems that will be in the water. Simply pull gently with your fingers down the stem to remove or on more woody stems, prune with secatuers.

Next place a feature flower and some greenery in your hand. Begin by placing the first stem against the palm of your hand secure with your thumb (see below). Add each further stem one at a time, alternating between flower and foliage. Turn the bouquet clockwise in your hand as you add more stems.This creates the spiralling that is key to a hand tied bouquet. Turning the bouquet also makes it easier to position your flowers and keep the finished effect balanced. It does take practice but don’t give up! Sometimes even experienced florists have to face their arrangement not going quite to plan and start again!

Hold the bouquet firmly as you begin to spiral the stems.

Keep adding the flowers and foliage. Look at the bouquet from above to ensure you’re happy with the effect your creating. Once all the flowers have been added, secure at the tying point. This is simply where your thumb has been in holding the stems together. Tie with raffia or narrow flat ribbon (twine or string can cut into delicate stems so flat ribbon or raffia is better). Ensure you cut your ribbon length prior to beginning your bouquet as trying to hold your creation while manoeuvring scissors to cut ribbon can be tricky! Hold one end of the ribbon in place with the thumb that’s already holding your stems, wrap the remaining length around twice then tie in a knot.

The tied bouquet –  note how all the stems below the tying point are free from excess leaves and foliage.

Now all that remains is to cut off the excess length from the stems. To do this, hold the bouquet up to the vase or jug that you will be placing it in. You will then be able to see how much length you will need to loose. Cut the stems with secaturers, preferably on a slight angle as this will allow for more surface area of the stem to absorb water.

Stems before and after

Leaving the bouquet tied, pop it into your container and voila! Remember to top up the water daily and change it every other day if you can. A drop of bleach in the water will also help to keep it fresh. You now have a beautiful bouquet for around £5 that will give you days of pleasure –  even more pleasure than if you had bought it as you have the added satisfaction of having created something gorgeous all by yourself!


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