Roses-A-Plenty: A Summer Steal

Hannah BryanArrangements, Basics, How-ToLeave a Comment

This past weekend called for a celebration–there was no question about it. My little brother is leaving the “nest” and headed to college next weekend where he will get to experience dorm life (yay!), cafeteria food (boo!), and all the amazing things college has to teach him. So, I headed over to my parent’s house for a Sam-inspired meal: steak and potatoes, of course.

When I arrived, my mom had a full bouquet of bright coral-y red roses soaking in a vase. Growing up in this house, seeing the blooms was no surprise. We needed something for the table that night and the roses were an insane deal at Trader Joe’s–20 stems for just $10! Talk about a value buy!

I was itching to get my hands on those blooms so I asked if I could do the arrangement. Not only did I get to do the arrangement, but I also got to experiment a little and try my hand at arranging with a floral frog. Definitely not as easy as I thought it would be, but with a few simple tips (that I’ll share below) I had the flowers bending to my will–literally–in no time. The end result is a gravity defying and simple but pretty arrangement to set the scene for Sam’s farewell dinner.

The Container

We’ve talked about containers a number of times on YDF, and this week is no different. This bright blue speckled-y vase just joined the collection and was the perfect contrast to the strong orangey-red of the roses.

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Then, because the container itself was so shallow (read: not a lot of space for stems to rest), I opted to go with a floral frog as my floral mechanic. That way, the frog’s pins would keep the stems upright and placed where I wanted without having to rely on the vase for support. Using a frog is as simple as plopping it in the water and setting it in the middle of the bottom:

Floral frog plopped in and ready to use!

Floral frog plopped in and ready to use!

How to Use the Floral Frog

Here’s where my knowledge of floral frogs end–I’ve researched them, and even wrote a post about them, but I’d never actually used one! And it was confusing. Super, super confusing. My top questions as I started:

  1. Do I still cut the stem on the angle?
  2. Are the proportions still the same for flower: vase?
  3. How do I “anchor” the stem in the pins?
  4. What if the stems for my arrangement are smaller than the pins?
  5. Do you stick the stem into the pin at the angle you want or start straight and move where you want?

And those are just the ones that I verbalized. The others were more along the lines of “what the @$*% am I doing?”

Well, thankfully O-Knowlegable-One was close at hand and helped me out after I had worked myself into a corner. No need to feel ashamed for trying or admitting you don’t know what’s going on. It happens to everyone.

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Where I started…

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…& same rose stem cleaned up (#byeleaves), and cut down…

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My not-so-expert version of how to use a floral frog.

From there, I started adding flowers around the outside and started filling in as I saw fit, while trying to stick to odd numbers:

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At this point, I wanted to add more roses, but had no more pin space in the frog because I had layered the stems in, and pinned them at an angle:

It's really claustrophobic in here...

It’s really claustrophobic in here…

Lesson #1: ALWAYS pin the stem in straight up and then move the stem to the angle and position you want. It will be far sturdier and stronger than anything pinned at an angle. Plus, you’ll have enough room for all the roses you want to use.

So, in the true spirit of learning the hard way, I pulled all the stems over and started over again, giving each stem a fresh cut and firm jut down straight onto a pin. Then I was left to bend and lightly push the stems to the angle and spot I wanted. It worked like a charm and in less than 10 minutes I had all my roses in place with plenty of frog space. See?

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So much space to breathe and stuff with other stems!

I ended up with the perfectly spaced, odd-numbered rose arrangement:

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But, it was a little bare still. Greens are underrated additions to arrangements. When you get stuck and can’t figure out how to fill out an arrangement and make it seem more lush than it really is? Greens! When you need more contrast between the blooms and your vase? Greens! So, what did I do? You guessed it…went into the garden and cut some greens! Once these light float-y leaves were added, this is what I was working with:

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Looks pretty alright, right? The coral and blue was popping and the green balanced the stems out a bit. But this was just one angle. If you had this on a dining table and sat down to dinner, the view changes pretty drastically to one of dark stems and vase edges and the “magic” of the finished project disappears.

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So back to the garden I went, with a little nudge towards the boxwood bush as a suitable addition. I chopped 3-4 little branches off, tucked them into the emptier spaces, et voila! The small branches of waxy dark green leaves filled the space perfectly:

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I think it turned out pretty well for a first frog attempt. It was the perfect punch of color to add to the night’s festivities and saying “adieu for now” to my little brother as he gets to head off and enjoy college life!

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We even had enough leftover blooms to make another couple quick and easy arrangement for the living room and windowsill:

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Oh, and lest you think I forgot, here are all the answers to the manyyyy questions I had at the start:

  1. Do I still cut the stem on the angle? Yes–it still needs as much water as possible, and cut at the angle helps increase the surface area
  2. Are the proportions still the same for flower: vase? Yes–the arrangement should be about 2/3 the height of the container.
  3. How do I “anchor” the stem in the pins? Jam those suckers in there and marvel at how they “magically” stay in place!
  4. What if the stems for my arrangement are smaller than the pins? Time to get creative–tuck between pins instead of on top of them or use other blooms to support the thinner stems.
  5. Do you stick the stem into the pin at the angle you want or start straight and move where you want? BIGGEST LESSON: Stick the stem straight onto the pin and then move to the angle and position you want. The stems are surprisingly flexible and wont break with a little maneuvering.
Hannah BryanRoses-A-Plenty: A Summer Steal