Creating your own holiday flower arrangement is a great way to get in the festive mood (not to mention get a jump-start on those budget resolutions). We asked Mona Moreno of San Francisco’s Willene Design to share a few secrets for picking the best vessels and blooms, where to shop for flowers, and how to make your creation last long after the holidays are over.
Choose The Perfect Vessel
If your arrangement is for your holiday table, look for a vase that suits your overall tablescape in terms of color or style. Mona recommends vases with a wider mouth to allow for a fuller bouquet, and for dinner tables, low is generally the way to go. Also, don’t be afraid to get creative! Repurposed vessels like trophy cups, ice buckets, cream and sugar sets, or footed pedestal bowls make great vases.
Pick Your Favorite Flowers
Mona always starts her search with “the flower you can’t keep your eyes off of.” You know the one: that huge, red peony bloom, or the celosia, a saturated, and fluffy flower. Favorite colors for holiday floral arrangements include classic reds and greens for winter, but Mona loves adding redwood with pinecones or delicate white cosmos for a surprise touch! A few of her other winter favorites include viburnum berries, snowberry, amaryllis, ferns, rosemary, ranunculus, astilbe, colorful fall leaves, and tulips, which tend to be available year-round.
Where To Buy Blooms
Mona suggests hitting your local flower market, which generally have wholesale and public hours, so be sure to check before you go. Shopping for blooms at your nearest farmer’s market (Monday and Friday mornings are the best – make sure to get there early) is another great way to support the local flower economy.
Spot The Freshest Flowers
When buying flowers, here are a few pro tips for picking the best of the bunch:
- Check if the stems are cold (warm isn’t good for them!).
- Check under the petals to see if they are brown (you want them to be fresh, and brown signifies that they may be past their prime).
- Ask the grower how long ago they were cut (48 hours is best).
- Once you get your flowers home, trim the ends of the stems, and immediately put them in water.
Build The Base
Mona typically starts her arrangement with a foundation of greens for strong structural support and fullness. Which greens she uses is generally based on season and availability. Rosemary, maple, cedar, and snowberry branches are all great winter options. The good thing is, you can always “forage” for your base greens in your own backyard!
Go With The Flow
Let the base greens and their branches determine the shape and structure of the bouquet. For Mona, free flowing, dynamic, and colorful arrangements are much more interesting to look at than monochromatic, symmetrical arrangements. As you add your layers of flowers, make sure to rotate the arrangement so that the beauty can be seen from all angles. Remember to treat the arrangement like a painting, varying the texture and colors of the flowers throughout and making adjustments as necessary. Also, be sure to mind the gap: view your arrangement from the top and all around so that you can fill in any gaps.
Keep It Fresh
Always replenish your bouquet with fresh water! Giving the ends stems a little snip (about ¼ inch) at an angle will help them stay fresh. Also, pour a capful of Sprite or bleach (yes) to help keep the flowers fresh, and to prevent mold (algae is the number one flower killer).
A big thank you to Mona of Willene Design!
Photos by Poppy Lynch