flower arranging

Tulips and traveling

Tall tulips in a brown and white vase, © 2013 Celia Her City

A week ago yesterday, I bought these tulips at the outdoor farmers’ market, and enjoyed them for a day.  Then we went to Michigan for the weekend, had some amazing adventures there, and by the time we got home Barbara and Krystina had thrown the tulips away.  Because by that time they were dead, I am sure.

So it has been, more generally, with our spring.  Slow to arrive (and with the temperature today still little better than fifty), the season came and went all too swiftly.  The leaves are all out on the trees, the daffodils and tulips are spent, and Memorial Day is upon us–all suggestions that we are on the verge of summer.  Yet I wish I could have enjoyed my tulips just a little longer.

A special-occasion centerpiece

A special-occasion centerpiece with tulips and lilies

My husband gave me some flowers for Valentine’s Day.  We were having dinner at home last night with another couple, so I decided to make a special-occasion centerpiece.

Like my photography, my flower-arranging is an amateur undertaking.  What I know about it I’ve learned from trial and error.  I’ve picked up tips by looking at professional arrangements and from articles in magazines.

Here’s my approach to making a centerpiece for a dinner table.

1.  The goal is to make a small but showy arrangement low enough for your dinner guests to see over.  This means selecting a low vase, preferably opaque.  I look for something wide-mouthed, so that the flowers can be placed at an angle, creating a wide, lively arrangement large enough to hold its own on the table.  The “vase” in this arrangement is an old cachepot that I had bought used.

2.  It’s good to have more foliage than flowers, and to combine plant materials that are rigid and flowing.  Forming the backbone of this arrangement are two stems of lilies, combined with draping eucalyptus, inexpensive baby’s breath, and several tulips, whose broad green leaves were as important as the yellow heads in achieving the effect that I was after.

3. Use a florist’s frog.  The one I have is from a flea market; they are also available on Amazon.  The frog is the anchor that keeps the flowers standing up straight or drooping over; without it, they would inevitably flop out of the vase.

4. Don’t be afraid to cut the flowers short.  For this arrangement, I had to cut off the lilies’ long stems.  I used to be timid about cutting flowers short.  No more!  You want the arrangement to be full, with the flowers forming a harmonious visual whole with the vase.

This bouquet will grow in beauty over the next couple of days, as the lilies and tulips open further.


Thanksgiving wrap

Thanksgiving table (Credit: Celia Her City)

Wednesday: I spent the day setting the table and arranging flowers for Thanksgiving.  My sister arrived from Boston around 5.  We had a friend over for dinner, ordered in from Home Made Pizza Co, ate in a smaller room off the dining room, and had a good time.

Thanksgiving guest (Credit: Celia Her City)

Thursday: My husband and I had agreed on a strict division of labor.  He would make the turkey, stuffing, and gravy; I would make the potatoes, vegetables, and the pies.  Thank goodness my sister was here because she did half the stuff I was supposed to.

I don’t have kids (Mr C has a grown son by his previous marriage), so dinner was for a small circle, which I was thrilled to host.  My husband and I usually spend Thanksgiving at the homes of friends or relatives.  This was the first time we had ever made Thanksgiving dinner together at home.  One of our guests brought Julius, one of the world’s greatest dogs.  Dinner was everything it should be, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

Friday: I went shopping with my sister (mainly to see the lights).  After about 40 minutes of shopping, we went to the Lavazza in the Drake and spent about 2 hours having coffee.  In the evening we went out with my brother’s family to eat Mexican.  I should have taken some pictures for the blog, but I didn’t.  My bad.

The toymaker on Racine (Credit: Celia Her City)

Saturday: My sister left first thing in the morning.  I got up and drove her to O’Hare.  That night Mr C and I went to a friend’s place to see some other friends who were in from Madison.  On our way to catch a cab afterward we walked past this toymaker’s.  (If you click on the link, be sure to click on the doorknob to go in.)

The new Sem Co-op (Credit: Celia Her City)

Sunday: I spent a lot time in the kitchen washing and putting away dishes and trying to wake up.  Around noon I drove to Hyde Park to see one of my closest friends and her family.  We walked over to campus to see the new Sem Co-op bookstore.  It was weird to be there.  Both Jack and Richard looked totally freaked out, but I bet the new store will work out once everyone gets used to how modern it is.  I think I would have liked it more if it weren’t trying so hard to look like the old bookstore.

Flower Arranging

Flower Arranging

Is it a waste of money to buy flowers?  An extravagance?

We buy them pretty frequently, whether at the grocery store or at one of the bucket shops in our vicinity.  My husband likes them, and I enjoy making the arrangements.  I used to have a garden, where I could grow and enjoy flowers; now, I do not.

The finished arrangement (Credit: Celia Her City)

I arranged these flowers the other day.  I’m with the Japanese in thinking that flower arranging is all about the ephemeral nature of life.  The arrangement by its nature is a tribute to beauty and its brevity, and that is what makes the effort itself worthwhile.