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Fall Floral Arranging with Winston Flowers

October 24, 2016

SalonCapri’s co-owner, Amy Penna, recently spent an afternoon with Theresa Larivee, Retail Design Manager for Winston Flowers, at the flagship location in Chestnut Hill, Winston Flowers & Garden. Theresa is one of the head creatives for Winston Flowers, responsible for designing the look and feel of Winston’s signature floral displays and seasonal collections seen in their retail stores and online. She also works with the company’s staff across Winston’s seven locations throughout New England. Winston Flowers has become famous for their exquisite arrangements – most people can identify a Winston Flowers’ bouquet upon first glance.

Amy Penna received a behind-the-scenes look at the various fall-inspired flowers and greenery that customers will see in Winston Flowers’ 26-piece Autumn Collection, available now through the last week of November 2016 (and on display for a limited time at all three SalonCapri locations!). Amy asked Theresa for her expert advice on how the average flower aficionado can create and care for his or her own arrangement.  Read below to learn the inside scoop.

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In your opinion, why do Winston Flower’s arrangements always look so beautiful?

Winston Flowers sources our products locally and around the world for the very best product available. We always buy to the season, ensuring the highest possible quality. Our flowers always last longer because we know exactly when we received them because we got them directly from the growers. Sometimes flowers are grown only for us!  We also have amazingly talented designers and we are always aware of the changing trends and styles in the floral industry. As you may notice, we’ve been moving towards a more organic look. We still focus on the head of the flower rather than the length of the stem, which is the most beautiful part.

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What are some examples of specific blooms that are in season for fall that can make for a lovely arrangements?   

Fall is a very textural season. Winston Flowers is always showcasing what is freshest and seasonal, and that is why the features in our Autumn Collection and what’s in store reflect what you might see outside. It’s the time of year when the blossoms turn into berries and the foliage bursts with color. Berries, grasses, pods, fruit, millet and other leafy greens are inspiration for the season. Garden roses are personal favorite of mine in the fall.

Which flowers last the longest and why?

Textures are typically the longest-lasting elements in an arrangement. They are heartier than the delicate blossoms of their floral counterpart. Roses are a long-lasting choice, and when paired with the right seasonal texture and other floral elements, they can be made to feel very seasonal despite their year-round availability.

How do I make less expensive blooms, such as ones picked from a farm or my own backyard, look like a million bucks?  

Add textural elements! We chose textures that are high quality and are true to the season. I find they are as important as the flowers. We love leucothoe, pods, fruits and other beautifully-colored leafy greenery.

How do you recommend displaying more than one flower arrangement in your home?

I recommend a cohesive theme when it comes to displaying flowers at home. Keep the textures the same but switch up the colors. Or another idea for your dining room table, for example, is to put the biggest arrangement in the middle of the table and add smaller arrangements on either side. The smaller ones can consist of just one of the flowers or textures found in the center arrangement. Use the same style vase or one that matches it.

What should you consider when picking a vase for an arrangement?

The overall desired size and how many flowers you plan to use are important to achieving the perfect finished look. There should be a nice balance between the flowers and vessel. If the vessel is the focal point, keep the floral simple and broad. Also, it’s easier to use solid-colored vases now, as opposed to clear glass, so you don’t have to be concerned with the stems looking good under water and positioned perfectly.

Would you walk us through the creation of a table arrangement, using a bowl-shaped vase?

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Step 1: Use taped down chicken wire. Insert rounded chicken wire into the top of the vase and secure it on the sides with little squares of floral tape or run strips of the tape across the chicken wire in an “x” shape. The tape ensures that the chicken wire doesn’t shift or get pulled out.  Don’t use the green foam floral blocks at the bottom of the vase. Those are typically used for events where we’re trying to create certain shapes like a ball or a box. Since flowers need to drink water all of the time, the foam hinders the flowers’ ability to take in water.

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Step 2: Start with some greenery to serve as a base. A good premium structural green is a ruskus. If you have a very long stem with leaves up and down the entire thing, cut it into several pieces and use all of them.  Insert the greenery into the chicken wire holes in an “x” shape around the top of the vase – create a web.

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Step 3: Create the arrangement’s color palette first. Lay out all of your flower and texture options and pull various ones you think you’d like to use and hold them together in one hand. You want to determine the best palette before cutting the stems and before placing them directly into the vase.

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Step 4: Measure the ideal height of your arrangement before you start cutting the stems. Once you’ve pulled the flowers and textures that you want to use for the arrangement, use your elbow and the edge of the table to measure where, exactly, to cut the stems. Put your elbow on the table with your arm and hand facing up, making a fist. That’s about 12 inches and a great length for the height of a table arrangement. This height allows guests sitting across from each other at a table to see one another.  An arrangement should also be one and a half times the size of the vase, either in height or angled to the side.

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Step 5: Vary the length of the stems when cutting the ends. Mix up the length of the stems a bit so when each one is added to the vase, some are longer than others when positioned next to each other. To cut each stem, use a serrated kitchen knife or a pair of Joyce Chen scissors (a florist’s favorite!).   

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Step 6:  Insert each stem at an angle and follow a triangular shape. As you start to place each stem into the vase through the various chicken wire holes, aim to position them in a triangular shape:  top, bottom left and bottom right. Insert the stems at an angle – you want it to look good from all sides, not just when looking at it from overhead. That being said, you do want to keep the center of the arrangement open for inserting the specialty flowers or some of the most eye-catching ones.

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Step 7: Shift stems around until you’re pleased with the results. Don’t be afraid to move flowers or textures to another spot, or keep adding more elements until you’ve formed your desired shape. Arrangements don’t have to be perfectly round and tightly-arranged – ones that are low and expand to the sides are more organic looking and can be very beautiful.

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Here are some additional arranging tips to keep in mind:

Tip 1:  While arranging, always position two to three of the same flower stems or textures together in one area instead of putting one on one side, one on the other side and so forth.  The arrangement looks better when there are small groupings throughout.

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Tip 2:  For a fall arrangement, fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, pomegranates and artichokes make lovely additions. Once your arrangement is complete, insert a wooden stick into the fruit or vegetable and position a few of them throughout the bouquet.

Tip 3: If you are making an arrangement to have on display when entertaining, open flowers will look more beautiful, even though an open flower doesn’t last as long as semi-closed or closed ones. If you have some flowers that you want open for the arrangement, a warm environment and a little warm water helps them open up a bit, if needed.

Tip 4: If you’ve made your arrangement the morning or night before your gathering or event, don’t put it in the refrigerator to try to keep it looking fresh since certain food items inside of your fridge could negatively impact the flowers. A cool garage is a good option instead. Remember, room temperature is better than too cold or too hot.

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What are some ways to make a floral arrangement last a long time?

Change the water in the vase. Keeping the flowers hydrated with clean water is the best way to keep them fresh. We change the water every single day at our locations! If you can’t dump the water out completely because the vessel is too heavy, use your sink faucet to fill it up ‘til the water overflows from the top. This enables some fresh water to get in there. Dirty water is better than no water. Use room temperature water too.

Cut the stems frequently.  If you purchased fresh flowers from a store and traveled home, even that five minute drive can affect the flowers! Once you arrive home, cut the end of the stems before putting them in water. Cut the stems daily if you can!

Pay attention to the temperate in the room. Keeping arrangements in a cooler environment always helps, so avoid any direct sun or heat source.

Use the flower food that comes with the arrangement. The flower food we provide helps to keep the water fresh when changing the water often isn’t an option.  Use that over dropping an aspirin into the water which – by the way – doesn’t work!

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Photos: Christopher Padgett

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