Rules are meant to be broken.
My favorite part of spring is the vibrant flowers that start popping up everywhere you look. Maybe they’re along your street, or in your garden—but you can also find brilliant spring blooms at the grocery store and farmers market.
If you want to bring the joy of spring indoors, a fresh flower arrangement can brighten up any room. But, it can be tricky to replicate the perfectly balanced designs that florists make look so effortless.
In hopes of discovering the secrets to making better bouquets, I reached out to Anna Potter, owner of the UK-based flower shop Swallows and Damsons and author of the upcoming book The Flower Fix (out in May 2019). She was kind enough to clue me in on some of her top tips for creating unique and beautiful flower arrangements—and now, I’m sharing her insights with you:
According to Potter, one of the most common mistakes she sees people making is “thinking that there are strict rules to follow, or trying too hard to make flowers abide by our rules.” Instead, she recommends letting the flowers lead you—that’s how you’ll create stunning, one-of-a-kind arrangements.
“Every stem is totally unique; therefore, applying regulations is pointless,” Potter explains. “Learn to be led and work with irregularities, and abandon preconceived ideas, because a flower won’t sit exactly where you had in mind.”
Flower hue is another area where there are lots of perceived restrictions: “I was taught so many rules about colors that should and shouldn’t go together—no pink and orange, always use complementary colors,” says Potter.
Again, she recommends breaking these rules and doing your own thing: “It’s something I would always encourage people to find [their] own way with. Play and experiment. Sometimes the most unlikely clashing colors on paper create something utterly magical and mysterious in a bouquet.”
Her favorite way to play with color? Using several variations of one shade. Like, she might make an entire bouquet just from pink flowers, all with subtle color differences.
When you’re picking out flowers to use in an arrangement, Potter recommends reaching for several different varieties to add texture and assortment to your creation: “Use four or five different varieties of flowers, and within those, look for different qualities in each flower.”
If you need a little more guidance, she recommends picking one type of flower from each of these categories:
And don’t forget to incorporate some greenery, as well!
You can give your bouquet a little extra je ne sais quoi by making it part of a larger display, complete with props.
“Bring in other collected treasures and natural produce to create a still life scene at home,” Potter says. “Use fruits and vegetables, shells, coral on the table around the arrangement. Bring in candles, books and any other trinkets to complete the scene.”
Or set your arrangement apart by using an interesting vase: “Any vessel that hold water can be used for flowers, so think outside of the box,” Potter recommends. If you have any empty jars or bottles lying around, why not create a bouquet in those?
After you put all that effort into creating a lovely arrangement, the last thing you want is for the flowers to die after a few days! Potter explains that the environment your flowers are in will ultimately dictate how long they last, but there are a few ways to extend their life.
“Cooler temperatures are best,” she says. “Clean the water every few days, and snipping off the bottom of the stems when you refresh the water will enable the flowers to drink more effectively.”