Saturday, December 5, 2009

flowers on the cheap

I don't claim to be an expert on flowers, but I really love them. Flowers seem like such a luxury, especially on our law school budget. They don't often make an appearance in our house, but tomorrow I am hosting a little holiday gathering to kick off a newly-minted 2010 book club, so it seemed a perfect opportunity to bring some flowers into the house.

When I purchase flowers I am always drawn to the priciest buds. Charlie says I have a sixth sense for picking out the most expensive things, so I am constantly trying to reign myself in (which is why I try to avoid my favorite flower shop at all costs).

But the truth is, you can achieve the look of a florist's arrangement for very little. My favorite challenge is to hit up the grocery store and to pick out the most inexpensive flowers I can find. I usually stick with a simple color palette and pick up a handful of each type of flower. One of my favorite, favorite cheap flowers is the carnation. This is a flower that pleases my expensive love of hydrangeas and my husband's budget conscious sensibilities. When the stems are gathered together to create larger blooms, they take on a life of their own.

So don't shun our friends the carnations and mums. Don't write off that giant spray of baby's breath. And don't stick your nose up at the grocery store bouquet wrapped in cellophane. For just $25 I put together eight bouquets for tomorrow's party. Here are my tips:

1. Buy an assortment of flowers. Look for different textures but opt for a monochromatic color palette.
2. Once home, take apart your bouquets, separating each stem. Separate by flower type.
3. Begin arranging the flowers. I like tightly pulled together bouquets for more formal affairs and looser bouquets for casual gatherings.
4. Once you are satisfied with the look, secure with a rubber band or stem wrap tape (if you use a rubber band, I recommend covering it with a bit of stem wrap tape). Stem wrap tape is available at all craft stores and flower shops for $2-3.
5. Cut the stems to a uniform length (Cut most flowers on an angle, though woody flowers such as hydrangeas need to be split up to the white inside of the stem). Make sure no leaves hang down in the water. This will encourage bacteria
growth in your vase.
6. Fill your vase with water (warm water for all flowers except hydrangeas which prefer hot water). Use the flower food included with your purchased flowers, it really does work!
7. Change the water in your bouquets every 2-3 days. Enjoy!

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