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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Tips for Summer floral Designs

As a hired hand in the gardening world, I would gather blooms from the recently tended landscape to create a floral arrangement for the inside of the home. The transition from gardener to floral designer seemed effortless since landscaping and floral design share common principles: repetition of colors and textures, using different sizes to create a shape, complementary color pallet and some experimentation. Adding a few horticulture tips to the creative gardener in you can let you bring the outside beauty inside.

Harvesting garden flowers

1. Water plants the day before and harvest in the morning when the plant water content is high.

2. Remove flowers back to node to encourage future blooms. Look for flowers buds further down the stem and remove just above the stem.

3. Cut from many places on the plant or on the back of the plant.

4. Place flowers directly in clean water bucket.

Conditioning flowers

1. Remove all the lower leaves and recut the ends of the stems. Lower leaves left in the water will cause bacteria growth. Recutting the stem at an angle will allow the plant to take in water.

2. If the stem is woody, scrape about an inch of the bark off to allow for more surface area to take up water.

3. Flowers like hydrangea and viburnum will benefit from being submerged in a bucket of water for an hour before transferring to the vase.

4. Foliage shrubs like smoke bush will benefit from removing the growing tip.

5. Place flowers in warm water with floral food added. If you don't have floral food, use a citrus drink with sugar. The citrus will kill bacteria and the sugar will feed the flower and warm water will cause it to be taken up faster.

Designing with garden flowers

1. Flower arrangements should be 1 to 1½ times the height of the vase.

2. Gather a bunch of heavy bloomers like cosmos, hibiscus and liatris and add a collar of evergreen foliage like yew and boxwood.

3. Cut leaves of hosta to create interest at the base.

4. Use large flowers like hydrangea or viburnum as base and repeat flowers throughout the matrix, making sure to face the flowers outward and creating shape by placing tall plants in the middle and shorter ones on the outside.

5. Don't forget about those small vases that can boast one or a few beautiful blooms from the garden.

6. Pick a color scheme. For instance, purple gomphrena, pink zinnias, chartreuse licorice plants, chartreuse hosta leaves or coral bell leaves. If you venture to the Illinois State University Horticulture Center, you will see a very bold red, yellow, white and black color scheme.