Who does not like to receive flowers? A beautiful bouquet from the local florist or a scrunched up bunch of bright yellow dandelions picked proudly by little neighbor girl all make us smile on the inside. Flowers through the ages have been presented as a gift to religious altars, stately ceremonies, weddings, and as a personal way of saying I am thinking of you, hope you feel better or I love you.
We as Americans don’t bring home flowers for the table or put them on our shopping list unless it is someone’s birthday or a holiday. In many parts of Europe it is not unusual to pick up a fresh loaf of bread, bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers on the way home. Flowers are everywhere. We just need to make that mental note to pick them up from the florist, grocery store, farmers market or, better yet, from your own back yard.
I am reminded every year when I judge the local flower show at the county fair how simple and easy it is to add that personal touch of cheer to the kitchen table with just a few fresh flowers. It does not have to be difficult; just a few flowers in a vase can add cheer to any room.
The county fair season is just around the corner so when you go be sure to check out the flower and vegetable displays. A few of the flower arrangement categories listed on the entry form are very simple and don’t require much plant material. One fun category is an all green arrangement in a green vase. Green foliage is everywhere so it is easy and fun mixing shades of green with varying textures. Another category is vertical arrangements in which you can create a stunning arrangement with an assortment of three or more tall leaves or long stalks of flowers.
Every year I am amazed at the displays of just hosta leaf arrangements. Hosta plants won’t mind if you pluck a few leaves to take inside and enjoy. It is fun to judge these categories and see what interesting combinations people come up with. A few of the more ingenious ones stick in my memory, like an arrangement of assorted herb leaves or the flower petals floating in a low bowl, a perfect pinwheel of hosta leaves and a simple three-piece vertical arrangement — a single tall iris leaf, one calla lily and trailing vinca vine. Leaves can easily be rolled, twisted and feathered to give depth to an arrangement. And don’t forget twigs and branches for height and texture.
The miniature arrangement category is another fun class to judge. Tiny flowers and foliage are carefully arranged into a small container like a thimble, doll-size cup and saucer or a bottle cap. The arrangement cannot be over 5 inches tall and 5 inches wide. At home these tiny creations would be fun for the kids to make and would fit perfectly on a small shelf in their room or the bathroom.
Mother Nature creates her own arrangements along the roadside on a massive scale. Nature showcases the baby blue flowers of Chicory, delicate white Queen Ann’s Lace and bright yellow Birdsfoot Trefoil. As summer fades into fall, the pallet reflects Black-eyed Susans, golden sunflowers and purple fall asters.
If you have a “monthly bucket list,” add fresh flower bouquets in the house at least once a month. Put on the calendar to take a small water bucket out to the yard for collecting flowers, buds, greenery and a few short branches, let the creative juices flow and see what kind of beautiful bouquets you can come up. It feels good to give a bouquet to someone special as it will touch their heart… trust me!
Margo Hansen is the director of programs at Bickelhaupt Arboretum, a local horticulturist, and host of the Great Green Garden show On KROS radio.