Category Archives: Focus on Flowers

floral designs

Focus on Flowers: quick iris bouquet

Iris bouquet.  Photo: Ralph Chappell Photography

Iris bouquet. Photo: Ralph Chappell Photography

A threatened hail storm had me scrambling to pick a few iris last weekend.  This simple bouquet consists of three Siberian iris and one reblooming iris offset by a few greens.  Bouquets don’t have to be elaborate to be beautiful.

Of course the photographer – my favorite – played a significant role in capturing the essence of these flowers.


Leave a comment

Filed under Focus on Flowers, Perennials & Annuals

Focus on Flowers: Lilac Bouquet

Enjoy them now, southern Connecticut gardeners, as the intoxicating scent of the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, will soon be gone.

Lilac-colored lilac heads will last the longest in a vase when picked with open flowers near the lower portion and still unopened flowers near the top.  As with all flowers, pick early in the morning or late in the evening when blossoms are less stressed by strong sunshine.  Cut the woody stems of lilacs – with a sharp knife, not crushing scissors – on an angle to maximize water uptake, and remove all green stems with leaves, then place lilacs in lukewarm water in a vase sturdy enough to support their weight.  Make sure fresh cut stem ends go immediately into water, leaving them exposed to air will cause them to dry, thus sealing off water uptake.  Removing the leafy branches allows lilac flowers to remain hydrated for longer periods.  You can use the leafy branches, however, as bouquet accents.  Just be sure to cut the branch ends, at an angle, and remove all leaves that will fall below the water line.

I adore white lilacs easily as much as their lavender cousins, but I have never known white lilacs to last more than a few hours in an indoor bouquet (if you have a white lilac hint on making them last when cut, please share), so I planted my small white lilac bush were I can enjoy its beauty and scent while exiting and entering our house.

White lilacs in May

White lilacs in May

I like to cut hosta leaves to arrange with lilac flowers – as shown in my favorite photographer’s photo below.  I cut and arranged this bouquet 4 days ago – it still looks fresh.

Lilacs and hostas, photo by Ralph Chappell Photography

Lilacs and hostas, photo by Ralph Chappell Photography

But my favorite photographer found additional artistry in the vase and stems, and I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the beauty captured here …

Vase structure, by Ralph Chappell Photography

Vase structure, by Ralph Chappell Photography


Filed under Focus on Flowers, Gardening, General

Focus on Flowers – Violet Bouquet

What comes to mind when you think of a bouquet of flowers … a tall vase of roses, a bowl of hydrangea, or one of those grocery store mixed bouquets plopped in any old water holding container?

With a little bit of thought, minimal time, and no expense even the tiniest flowers can have a large impact.

Photo courtesy of Ralph Chappell

Photo courtesy of Ralph Chappell

Here, a three-inch tall container that started life as a mini Patron (a damn good tequila) bottle holds violet flowers and fern fronds.  Both violets and these hay ferns grow in my yard, woods, and gardens … hence at no cost.  Total time to pick and arrange: 15 minutes. 

Sometimes the best things in life are free.


Filed under Focus on Flowers

Focus on flowers – Early spring narcissi

Is it possible to have too many narcissi?  From early through late spring, gardens brighten with the pure yellow, six to eight inch tall Tête-à-Têtes, or taller stands of yellow or white blossoms, or combinations of white and orange, white and pink, white and yellow, white and peach, white and red, white and green, yellow and orange, and so forth, in single or double flowers.  Some fill the air with sweet scent while others simply offer their cheery petals as their smile on the day.  After a long winter stretch with no flowers to cut from my gardens, I love to bring these blossoms close and indoors.



But rather than plop blooming bunches into a vase, I like to accompany them with newly sprouting branches of neighboring bushes to present a more natural looking bouquet, by adding, for example, nearly blooming high bush blueberry branches as in the photo below.



The last narcissus hurrah in my yard comes in late spring when my all time favorite Poet’s Daffodil (Narcissus poeticus recurvus) blooms.  Its pure white petals open around a small yellow cup fringed in orange-red and encircling a green throat.  The intoxicating scent of this late-bloomer is a perfect way for the season’s narcissi to bid farewell.



Filed under Bulbs, Focus on Flowers, Gardening, Seasons