Half the battle of creating a beautiful floral arrangement is matching the container to the blooms. Proper pairings let a bouquet fall effortlessly into place, allowing you to skip complicated steps involving things like floral tape, foam blocks, and frogs. Tom Borgese, of New York-based Tom Borgese Floral Design, gave us pointers on some simple match-ups. Borgese has serious floral cred, having arranged flowers for the pages of Martha Stewart Living, House Beautiful, and domino, as well as designing events nationwide. With his tips, composing a professional-looking bouquet is actually achievable.
THE FLOWER: Calla lilies, tulips, ranunculi
THE VASE: Choose a narrow cylinder, or one that narrows at the top, to support floppy stems.
- Start with about 18 to 20 blooms; we used calla lilies. With soft, easily rotted stems, these buds don’t like deep water, so fill the vase just to 3 or 4 inches. Check and replenish about every three days.
- With floral shears, cut stems at an angle. This gives more surface area to suck up moisture and creates a pleasing lean. Cut the flowers the same length, and they’ll drape themselves.
- Start placing them in vase in a spiral, angling the stems.
- The arrangement’s overall sculptural shape is key, so set it at about eye level.
THE FLOWER: Roses, iris, chrysanthemums
THE VASE: Opting for a wide, shallow cube or low cylinder allows strong stems to mesh as they angle outward, giving you a great view of the flower’s “face.”
- We started with about 50 roses, in two barely different hues (this technique also works on smaller arrangements). Fill the vase with water to a few inches below the rim. To avoid rot, strip off any foliage under the water line.
- Using a pruner, cut ends at an angle. Immerse while you snip, to prevent an air bubble from blocking the fresh cut.
- Working in a circle around the vessel, lean the roses on the rim, crisscrossing stems. The roses at the edge should stick out just an inch or two from the vase. Fill in the center compactly with the remaining roses (cut just slightly longer), sticking them down through the supporting stems.
- A bird’s-eye view is the best way to appreciate this creation, so place it at waist-height or lower.
THE FLOWER: Branches of cherry, dogwood, forsythia (spring) or viburnum and ilex (fall)
THE VASE: Pick one that’s tall and heavy enough to support the weight of the limbs. Go for opaque, not clear—branches naturally gunk up the water.
- Select about a dozen healthy, seasonal branches; we used Gold Winterberry Holly.
- If necessary, anchor the vase by adding glass marbles or stones.
- Trim off any excess leaves or small branches under the water line or all the way to the rim of the container.
- Cut the branch with a lopper, which is more powerful than a pruner. Then, using a pruner, cut the end in a sort of asterisk pattern. This allows water to seep into hard, woody stems.
- Interweave the branches with ample space between them (less is generally more). Avoid having protruding branches, especially at eye level.
- Allow space around this arrangement to show it off; place it in a corner or on a console table.