Fabulous flower gardens | Living the Country Life
More
Close

Fabulous flower gardens

Michelle D'Arcy tells us how to create the best garden for flower arrangements--and how to assemble them once the blooming's done.
  • Fresh and floral

    Michelle D’Arcy has always loved fresh flowers in the house. “To me that’s just natural, and the flowers in your garden are so much better than the ones at the florist. Plus there’s always a wealth of material, even if you have a small garden.”
     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • An early start

    Michelle began gardening as a youngster when she would follow her grandmother around, helping her to weed and do little chores. She moved on as she got older to helping her dad grow tomatoes and vegetables, and eventually the family vegetable garden became her domain as a teenager.

    Now Michelle has turned her love of plants and growing in a business, Horticulture Associates Inc., that helps homeowners with the finer points of gardening. “We don’t mow, but we do everything else, such as edging beds, weeding, planting bulbs and containers, and maintaining perennial and annual beds.”
     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Tiny surprises

    When pretty flowers were in bloom, Michelle would occasionally make arrangements of them and leave for her clients. That was received so well that creating floral displays has become a regular part of her business.
     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Small is fine

    Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have a cutting garden, says Michelle. You don’t need a designated cutting garden to create lots of wonderful arrangements. “People are often afraid to grow a cutting garden, they’re afraid it will look messy and they need to find a place to put it. You don’t have to plant rows of zinnias all lined up. Just create a beautiful flower garden and go in and cut.”
     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Unexpected elements

    Look around your yard, she says, and you will fine lots of material to use for pretty arrangements. Start with whatever is in bloom, if you wish, then search for foliage as a base. Then add in unusual elements you may find in your yard: grasses, branches from trees and shrubs, and unusual seed pods.
     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Start small

    Begin with small arrangements in small vases if you don’t have a lot of material or need to boost your confidence. “You can often use just a couple of flowers here and there and still have a lot of impact,” she says. It’s also often nice to do a series of small arrangements rather than a big one. At the beginning or end of a growing season when there are fewer blooms in the yard, this is a particularly effective strategy.

    “It’s always so nice to have a bud vase in a powder room, on a side table in your bedroom, on your desk or at the kitchen sink,” she says, “ and you can put them together so quickly.”
     
     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Getting started

    While the flowers available sometime dictate the kind of arrangement you make, other times you may be having a special event or want to use a particular container. A large elegant formal container would determine a different kind of arrangement than a more informal sort of container, such as a basket or earthenware pitcher.
     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Choosing color

    Color may be a consideration as well, says Michelle. Perhaps you want to do an arrangement all in one color, or you want to stay with pastels, or you want something brighter. Michelle often likes to put together displays that feature complementary colors (colors opposite each other on a color wheel) because they are so bold and bright. “People seem to really respond to them,” she says.
     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Tools

    Gather together your tools. You can use either pruning shears or a floral knife. You may need some floral wire or tape to strengthen stems.  Also useful are a frog, some marbles or pebbles, chicken wire, or floral foam to hold the stems in place, plus floral preservative.

     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Cutting

    Try and cut the flowers in the cool of the morning when they are freshest. Plunge them immediately as you cut them into a container of warm water with floral preservative. Then keep them cool until you make your arrangement. “The blooms will last longer if you keep them in a cool spot,” says Michelle. 

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Making an arrangement: start with greens

    Begin by filling your container with water and add floral preservative. Michelle says she likes to start with greens when she begins a floral design. “One of my favorites is hosta leaves. They hold up well, sometimes lasting for a couple of weeks, and they come in a large variety of color, texture and sizes,” she says. Peony foliage is another favorite that is often found in most gardens.
     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Making an arrangement: add flowers

    After a base of foliage is in, she begins putting in the flowers, usually starting with the largest or heaviest, such as hydrangeas, or the flowers with the boldest colors. Then she fills in with medium-sized flowers and works her way down to the smaller flowers and any accent pieces, such as grass plumes or seed pods.
     

    Keep your arrangement fresh by keeping it out of the sun and as cool as possible, changing the water every day and adding fresh floral preservative each time.

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Enjoy your garden

    Enjoying your garden inside the house as well as outside the house by making colorful and beautiful arrangements is a great way to extend the pleasure of your growing season.
     

    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012
  • Michelle's tips for fabulous arrangements

    • Cut flowers early in the morning
    • Cut stems on an angle and immediately put in warm water with floral preservative
    • Start an arrangement with the largest or brightest flowers first, working your way down to the smallest
    • Several small vases with just a few flowers makes just as nice a display as a larger arrangement
    • Change water daily and add new preservative to prolong a display
    Date Published: October 1, 2012
    Date Updated: October 1, 2012

Latest Blogs

Betsy's Backyard |
5/25/18 | 11:05 AM
My daughter, Caroline, said she missed my blog, so I'm going to download a few ...read more
Betsy's Backyard |
3/12/18 | 1:18 PM
The Living the Country Life Spring/Summer 2018 issue comes out this month. I loved the...read more

Add Your Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login