When my husband and I go on dates, the conversation sometimes turns to “what do you want to do when we grow old?” My answer has always been that I’d like to live in France and Italy each for a few months and take cooking classes from the finest chefs, and floral classes from true artists. Last night, I got a glimpse of what my retirement could look like by taking a Floral Design Tips class from a true artist, and it’s everything I dreamed it would be!
The designers at Le Jardin Fracais design for some of the most high-end weddings, homes and gardens in our beautiful city (and elsewhere – she’s big time!) Originally from Paris she grew up in the family business of floral design and entertaining. To watch her is like being in the presence of a master. To be in her boutique feels like stepping into a Parisian floral shop.
The class started with Marie-Laure putting together an arrangement while walking us through tips. At the same time she was creating a bouquet in a vase, another exemplary florist, Marion Sadeoux, assembled the French way of creating a bouquet. This is called a “bouquet rond” (or French hand bouquet) and it’s built in the hand, and tied before putting it inside a vase.
When arranging a floral arrangement (or even just holding them in your hand when picking them up), the stems of the plants should not be in a straight line at the bottom. They shouldn’t be grouped with stems clenched together. This puts pressure on the flower, doesn’t allow it room to grow and open, and is shortening the length of time your arrangement survives.
Solution: the stems should be in a “swirl” formation. All the stems should almost go in a circular pattern which allows the blooms at the top to not be pressed together with pressure on them, and no breakage of the stem below.
Look at how Marion (another incredible floral designer) is holding this bouquet rond arrangement. Can you see how the stems are not touching, but rather flaring out as she forms the arrangement at the top?
stay mold free
Absolutely no foliage goes in water. It creates mold and algae, which is the enemy of your arrangement. Clean all stems first. You should have about 1/3 of your stem be flower and foliage for the top of the arrangement, the rest clean stems.
All stems should touch bottom of vessel. Ensure that when you cut the stem that they are long enough to hit the bottom of the vase. This ensures they get adequate water. When Marie-Laure placed each flower or foliage piece in the vase, she would push it down until she felt the bottom of the stem hit. I know sometimes I would have shorter stems thinking that was OK because they still reached water. It’s not and that’s because water can quickly evaporate leaving those stems dry!
You may be cutting your flowers wrong. I was. I was using scissors or everyday garden tools. Yes, I cut on the diagonal like I had been taught a long time ago for hydration, but a low quality tool is still breaking the stem through it’s lack of pressure and lack of sharpness. The cutting technique is critical to allow full hydration and increase the longevity of your arrangement.
Also, always, cut your flowers before putting them in water. If you buy them from a grocery store, they need a fresh new cut to allow hydration.
In this photograph you can see the pruning shears they use – I now own a pair and they are far sharper and stronger than ones you can buy at a local nursery. Their cut is even, deliberate and creates less damage to the stem.
Since hydrangea are my favorite flowers I wanted to know more specifics on how to care for this particular flower.I learned that if your hydrangea are starting to wilt, cut them and place them in boiling water for 15-20 minutes. For more hydrangea care tips visit this blog post!
floral arrangement essentials
She’s amazing some of the most beautiful floral arrangements I have ever seen