Another Thursday spent at Falls Flowers with Peicha Chang. We processed flowers for display, did some arranging, and even talked about the meaning of life. Guess what, there is none! No but really, I’m here at the shop because I’m trying to bring some meaning to my life by learning new things. That, and the aromatherapy! This Stock flower was super fragrant…and smelled exactly like cloves. The white variety was much stronger smelling than the lavender one.
We started by processing some MUMS, first removing most of their foliage and cutting them at a 45 degree angle (so their stems don’t butt up against the bottom of the container – for maximum drinking potential.)
These big chartreuse babies are Spider Mums and like other blooms with fat heads, they come with their own mini nets to secure and protect them. DON’T JUST TEAR THE NETS OFF WILLY NILLY. I learned that taking the nets off should be the last step before you set them into their container, and don’t rush it. BE GENTLE – just peel the net up and over the bloom so your mum isn’t decapitated and the petals remain intact.
When these huge Chrysanthemums are set free of their nets they span 4-6″ across and put on quite a show! They are a really intense green, so green and so big that rather than being considered “neutral,” like most other greens, they count as their own color family. When creating a bouquet or arrangement, Peicha says to choose 2 color families to work with, and you can add neutral greens like this Grevillea to the mix.
Interestingly enough, WHITE is NOT a neutral color in arranging. I learned this the hard way in a lesson towards the end of the day when I created my own bouquet…uh oh…no picture means it wasn’t too great! If you’re using whites, Peicha says choose only one other color family. I used the green mums, some pinky-yellows, some deep rosy reds, AND white…too much! But I’m learning, I’m learning. I think I just couldn’t resist using the Queen Anne’s lace, because though it’s a European introduction and considered a weed by many, it’s a wildflower at the very top of my list. I love it’s lacy umbels of green and white – these had just come in and were so tight (come back later when they’re fully opened!)
Speaking of WHITE and FILLER…there is a scourge sweeping across the nation as we speak. This plant is the go-to airy fairy filler of most florists, and you’ll see a LOT of it at Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s Baby’s Breath or Gypsophila, and it may be pretty, but when it’s the only filler ever used it loses it’s charm, doesn’t it? Peicha “doesn’t do Baby’s Breath,” but she also doesn’t rule it out entirely. She does caution clients against using it for events for a pretty specific reason (aside from the fact that it’s boring.) And here it is: do you know WHY it’s called Baby’s Breath? Because it SMELLS like baby’s breath. Sweet, milky, powdery, and slightly rotten! Not my cup of tea, for sure, and probably not something you want to smell at your wedding.
Instead of Baby’s Breath, Peicha prefers the lemon pledge scent of the Waxflower, a lovely shrub from the Myrtle family endemic to Western Australia. And I can see why: it’s darling bell-like waxy flowers are borne on woody stems so brittle one can simply break them off between your fingers (translation: quick and easy for the florist to use.) That, combined with it’s needle-like dark green leaves, and clean, citrusy scent make the Waxflower a much better choice for filler. Expect to see a lot of this used during Valentine’s Day – only 2 weeks away!
Okay, want to see how it’s done? Check out what Peicha did here for this bright and cheerful birthday arrangement. Oh it happened pretty quickly, her hands darting in and out of the display vases, measuring the stems against the container, and knifing the stems down to size so fast I couldn’t even capture the process. The final result, a delight in reds and yellows, is here:
That’s it for now, from my messy mind. More this week – we have a wedding on Saturday!