In the language of flowers, sometimes the most obvious choice is also the most extraordinary. This week, “r” is naturally for rose! Here, I have chosen to highlight the gorgeous garden rose, an even more fragrant and showy variety than your average rose. In the United States, most regular roses that you find at your local florist or grocery store have been shipped to us from South America (although different species of roses are cultivated all over the world). Garden roses may have a more pedestrian-sounding name (as if someone just threw down some seeds and they sprung up in the garden) and hail from much less exotic locales (primarily California and Texas), but they radiate a unique beauty.
As noted above, garden roses tend to have a more intense and complex fragrance, and they have bigger heads that include many more layers of downy petals. Although garden roses can be pricey ($6 to $8 per stem), they do last well as a cut flower and absolutely bring down the house in any arrangement. Invest in a small bouquet of them during July and August, when garden roses are at their peak. And if you are lucky enough to have your own patch of earth that gets plenty of direct sun and excellent soil drainage, please shut down your computer and run to the nearest nursery for a plant or two.
I have selected two kinds of garden roses to work with this week: Romantic Antike (summer peach shade) and Nostalgie (creme with peach edging). These two varieties are grown in California. I love seeing the different hybrids that farms develop from year to year (the names are often fanciful or inspired by a wife or girlfriend).
Last week, I was walking through a very tony neighborhood and noticed several buildings with phenomenal window boxes happily balanced outside apartment windows. The charm of the soft florals and greens on the stately buildings made me long for the kind of home or studio where this would be possible. So, I was inspired to create an indoor “window box” at the Blossom and Branch studio using garden roses.
This galvanized French tin is one of my favorite containers to use. It was inexpensive and is lightweight. I am going to use floral foam as I did for my Thanksgiving Centerpiece Idea last year. As I mentioned last November, some people dislike using floral foam for a variety of reasons. You can achieve a similar effect using a tape grid.
I always line the container with cellophane prior to using floral foam. This is helpful because you never know whether the seams of the container will leak water. If you are choosing to use tape or chicken wire, try working with a hot glue gun to seal the seams of the container before adding water, and test the container with water before going full steam ahead with your arrangement.
Next, I added my floral foam. The basic principles for using floral foam are: 1. Soak well in fresh water, simply tossing the bricks of foam in a bucket of water and allowing them to submerge (never forcibly submerge the foam, or you will get dry pockets); 2. Try using the biggest pieces of foam you can to fill your container (if you need to fill in corners to make the foam secure, cut smaller chunks but be aware of these flimsy pieces while you are designing); 3. Only place a flower or green in the foam one time (if you end up not liking the placement, take the flower out and make a brand new hole; do not re-use that hole); 4. Place flowers and greens as close to a 90-degree angle as possible while creating your shape (you don’t want stems to cross inside the foam); and 5. Flowers will drink a lot in the foam, so use a watering can to “water” your arrangement frequently. Once you get the hang of working with floral foam, you’ll love how it frees you to create a wide variety of shapes and styles and experiment with arranging new flowers.
I like to start with the “greens,” so I added andromeda first. The structure of the arrangement begins with this first batch of elements.
Next, I added some dusty brown amaranths. I wanted the arrangement to have a washed-out summer feel, so I paired muted tones with the roses.
Electric pink celosia (or cockscomb) fall somewhere between a “face” flower and filler. Because roses are such a strong face flower, I mostly chose blooms and greens that were tubular and would not compete with the round shape. Whenever I design, my primary concerns are with shape and palette. This is why you can substitute whatever flowers are available to you to contrast with the roses — simply hunt for muted tones and tubular shapes to emulate this look.
And then came the roses . . . so magnificent. I also added a few fern curls for whimsy.
You sort of just want to pet this arrangement, right? The textures here are a lot of fun.
When your fresh flower window box dies away, simply replace those flowers with a few sweet summer plantings. If you are unsure of your green thumb or how plants will fare in the various microclimates in your home, simply keep the small plants in their original purchase plastic containers (as opposed to planting them in soil) and place them right in the window box. You can elevate them a bit (perhaps with a wood block?) so they drain when watered. Then cover the surface over with some loose moss to hide your work! That way, if a particular plant fails, you can just remove it and replace it.
Please join me back here for a post from my blogger inspiration's dreamy California hometown, when “s” will be for . . .