A bouquet of flowers is a celebration of color, fragrance and artistic design. Regrettably, a living bouquet declines and is soon gone. Silk flowers last indefinitely, but soon become boring, dusty and invisible. Take heart. Combining silk with fresh material, magically solves these problems.
Today even purists admit many artificials appear remarkably real. Leena Hannidainen-Lee, owner of Yesterday's Blossoms Flower Shop in Medford, specializes in dried flowers, but admits she loves silks for their drama, and the ease of filling a bouquet with just a few stems. You don't have to buy the pricey beauties to get realism; sometimes inexpensive bargains are very realistic. Shop carefully, and look for the most convincing replicas.
When mixed with a few real flowers and fresh greenery, your bouquet will suddenly come to life.
Study your purchases; they may need to be refreshed after their journey. Bend, straighten, and separate stems and unfold blossoms to their original shape. Many flowers are often available in bargain-priced clusters called "bushes." These multi-stems can be cut into "individuals" using wirecutters. Beware of forcing the rigid stems into your existing bouquet, thus pushing all the stems too deeply into the vase. Be gentle and don't overcrowd.
Begin each bouquet with garden greenery; it's a snap to collect since your many landscape shrubs need regular pruning. Cut stems of boxwood, heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) and camellia. These and many more common shrubs provide rigid, twiggy parts which will hold your silk and fresh flowers in place. Immediately after gathering, re-cut to the desired height, making an angled cut. Remove lower leaves that dip into the water. To improve water intake on woody stems, use warm water and split with pruners from the bottom up 1 to 3 inches. You can use a floral preservative, but most experts agree to keep your bouquets fresh simply change the water daily.
Next, you'll add any fresh flowers. When you cannot find the colorful flowers you want, fill the void with silk or other artificial flowers. Wisely select artificial versions that would naturally be flowering during the season at hand. Use silk cosmos and alstroemeria in summer and mums in autumn. Your guests who drop in during the busy holidays will be impressed that you always have brilliant flowers beautifully arranged.
As you replenish with fresh water, rearrange the fresh and artificial contents. If necessary, cut new greenery and fresh flowers. Clean the artificial material, remove dust and debris. Add some new silks ensuring that your centerpiece remains interesting. As you acquire a backlog of favorite artificial flowers, you can rotate them out of storage as they come into season. Flowers appropriate for the autumn and winter holidays can start emerging as soon as summer days are over.
Kristen Hedberg at Craft Warehouse, in Medford, explains that most artificial flowers are vinyl; they're durable and washable, and have thick stems which are unharmed in water. They can also be used outdoors on porches and patios. Occasionally you will find paper-wrapped stems, so be careful not to include these in your "fresh" arrangements. You can add them along the sides, if you insert your water-filled vase inside a larger, decorative vase; stick your wrapped stems into the tight space between liner and vase.
If you love to fill your home with glorious flowers, continue to enjoy nature's bona fide beauties when they are in season. But when living color is hard to find, avail yourself of the ever-improving world of artificial flowers, and combine them with fresh. Like magic, this blending of two worlds positively eliminates the winter flower doldrums.