September 22, 2014

Free Flowers Challenge

I'll admit it. I'm a flower snob. I love ALMOST every kind of flower, but there are just some that I don't like. I know, I know. A lot of people have made really beautiful arrangements out of these flowers, but because there are gazillions of other types of flowers, I just wouldn't choose most of these.

So, when I was in the flower market the other day visiting my guy Fernando, I bought a bunch of flowers to make arrangements. He handed me my flowers all wrapped tightly in brown kraft paper, I thanked him, smiled and left. It wasn't until I got home, that I realized in addition to the flowers I picked, I was also given someone else's selections! And these flowers included many I would NEVER pick!

So, I took this as a cosmic challenge. The Gods must've wanted me to spread my wings and open my mind. Okay, maybe a little dramatic, but I couldn't say no to any flower if it's free. 
(kind of like the ugly puppy that's so ugly, he's kind of cute).

This is what I was "given".
CARNATIONS - ugh! These are probably my mother-in-law's favorite flowers, and my least. They are great for fundraisers in high school because they last so long without water. And I know Colin Cowie makes amazing creations with them. But, I'm not a fan...
Dyed Leaves - yuck! I like things natural (hence my now indistinguishable hair shade of blonde/gray, but I digress) and so I can't stand it when they preserve once beautiful leaves with an icky dye.
Calla Lillies - I've done plenty of weddings where the bride HAD to have these. And the wedding I did where the bride and her bridesmaids each carried one giant white calla lilly with a beautiful silk ribbon trailing down the stem was really pretty, but on a whole, I don't love the shape or the colors all that much. 
(see? I am sounding snobby and I'm not in person, I swear!)

Golden Rod/Solidago - okay not as bad but I generally don't pick it because I have hay fever and I know too many people who also suffer so I never want to make arrangements that could make someone sneeze.

Football Mums - I swear this is the name for this large, oversized, floppy mum! I love, love, love football (and my New England Patriots won yesterday - phew!)  and I do like mums but usually it's a chartreusey spider mum that catches my breath. These aren't so bad and color-wise they go with everything else.

Yellow spray roses - yes, I would choose these. Spray roses are one of the best deals you can get when buying roses and flowers in general because there are so many blooms per stem.

So, to whomever took the time to carefully select these flowers, I say you have a nice eye for color, and thank you for the free flowers. On to the challenge!

I went to Michael's but you can go to any craft store, and bought some pretty burlap chevron ribbon, a jar (that I could reuse for lots of things) and ball of oasis or wet floral foam and the rest I had at home.

I tackled the carnations first; like when you have food on your plate that you can't stand so you eat it first to get it out of the way

All I could think of was to keep them separate because carnations and baby's breath (another flower I'd rather do without) are better in masses on their own. I love topiaries so I figured I'd make a round ball of carnations for my table. With only one bunch, I didn't have enough to make two balls but it worked out okay.

 I cut the stems short, just below the bud and to save time, did them all at once so I could start placing them into the foam
 If the carnation buds aren't as open as you'd like, you can be pretty fearless in smooshing (how's that for a technical term?) open the petals until it's a little more open and bigger all around. You need to be able to cover the entire surface with the flowers
I started at the top center and worked my way around the ball in stripes just to keep it compact. Then when I was done, I rotated the ball all around looking for holes that needed to be filled

 All I needed here was a pair of googly eyes and it would have looked like a face :)
Okay, it's not so bad - maybe this challenge thing is working?
 If I were to do this for real, and wasn't the recipient of free flowers, I'd probably make a pair of these balls. But I didn't have enough flowers. 

Now on to the accompanying arrangements that I planned to put in my antique French milk bottles.
I liked these a lot because of the rustic look of the snap tops for my Fall table and they also elevated the flowers so you wouldn't have to try to talk through them when sitting.
 I started with the football mums and since the opening of my milk bottles was small, I stripped the leaves off the base of the stems so I'd have enough room for all the flowers
I made sure to rotate the bottle so the mums were balanced and faced in all directions before I added the calla lillies
I played around with the height of the lilies so some were higher than others close to the bottle's neck
 I separated the roses so I could see what I had and stripped many lower leaves off, but not all because I wanted some to add green to the arrangement 
Again, I played with heights so there was some yellow at varying levels for interest
The goldenrod was next and I have to say, as far as goldenrod goes, this was kind of cool in it's coloring - aaaachoo!
I used most of it down low to create a base but I stuck a few springs in higher. I made two of these arrangements to go on the table
pay no attention to the clutter in my background - I'd rather make flower arrangements than clean :)

I still haven't used those dastardly leaves! I decided the only thing they'd be good for is was as the base of my table, so I placed them down the center

And this is why I hate these things. Any natural plant should be allowed to shine and NOT leave dye on hands - gross!

I placed my single carnation ball in the center and then the two arrangements on either side. I used the pretty ribbon as napkin rings, making sure I dovetailed the ends to mimic the chevron pattern. The red crystal wineglasses were my husband's grandmother's (I was a VERY lucky recipient of much glassware from Gammie). I own the sage green Juliska glasses and paired my collection of Dartmouth College plates with gilded chargers

It turned out to be a beautiful table and an early celebration of Fall. I guess I learned my lesson to once again, never judge a book or FLOWER by it's cover. Shame on me! 

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