Tips for flower arrangements from your garden

hosta begonia arrangement
Big, textured hosta leaves are gorgeous on their own or mix them with a few blooms. I chose begonias, another shade-loving plant, as a companion because of its pretty flower and leaf colour. The begonias will wilt long before the hostas do, so I’ll replace them with something else to keep the arrangement going.

“Pink and white carnations — one desires so much more than that.”

As Wallace Stevens puts it in “The Poems of our Climate,” sometimes we want more than just carnations. Beyond the usual roses and peonies, there are many plants in our gardens that make gorgeous arrangements. I recently had some fun walking around my garden, choosing unconventional plants — no carnations — to bring indoors to enjoy.

1) Just like we mix interesting foliage with flowers in the garden, look beyond the big blooms for your bouquets. Hosta leaves, herbs and variegated foliage from shrubs all make pretty arrangements on their own or when mixed with a few flowers. Think about what you plan for in a container or garden bed and try to do the same on a smaller scale in a vase: A combination of height, maybe something trailing, colour, pattern, texture and scent.

2) Take blooms from plants where you won’t miss them. Perhaps a plant in the back corner or from an annual that will keep flowering even after you snip a few stems. Be strategic; you don’t want to disturb the plant or the look of your garden. But don’t be afraid to take from your garden — it’s yours to enjoy, indoors or out.

3) Vase life varies from plant to plant. Hosta leaves can last for several weeks, but you can switch out the accompanying flowers as they go past their prime and update the original arrangement several times. To keep your plants looking their best, use a water additive. If you don’t have any extra powdered additives left over from bouquets you’ve bought in the past, add about a teaspoon (5 mL) each of lemon juice, bleach and sugar to your vase. Clear the lower parts of stems of leaves and flowers so there’s nothing to rot beneath the water’s surface. Refresh water daily (I say that, but rarely remember to do it more than a couple times a week) and keep your arrangements out of direct sunlight.

rose butterfly bush arrangement
Try mixing a classic bouquet ingredient like roses with unconventional choices. Here they’re arranged with hosta leaves, perennial geraniums and variegated foliage from a butterfly bush.
herb arrangement
Herbs are some of my favourites for a vase. Their aromas fill a room for days. This vase has mint, rosemary, sage, oregano, parsley and a sprig of lavender with some dark red calibrachoa (Superbells Pomegranate Punch, a new introduction from Proven Winners for 2014.) 
delphinium arrangement
Delphiniums, goat’s beard and eremus form a pretty trio with hosta leaves skirting the base. To keep delphiniums from drooping, fill their hollow stems with tap water and keep your finger over the bottom until you insert it into water in the vase.



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  1. Annette Hamm says

    Hi Kat,
    Love these arrangement ideas from the garden. Would you like to share them with our viewers on Morning Live on CHCH in Hamilton? Let me know!

  2. Beverley says

    Hi Kat,

    Just LOVE your arrangements. They are stunning. I try to do the same with my flowers/plants. One question, for the hosta leaves – do you just cut off the leaf at the bottom of the stem? I have many varieties of hostas and love the idea of bringing them into the house as part of a flower arrangement with my other flowering plants!! Especially, when as you say, they last a long time.

    Thanks for your great ideas. Love your articles and always look forward to reading them… Also thought your raised bed with the cement blocks was a novel idea. I actually did something similar in a flower bed, using the blocks as a low retaining wall and planted small plants in the holes, just as you recommended!!

    Happy Gardening!! Despite the wet summer :(

    • Kat Fox says

      Thanks Beverley! I cut the hosta leaves off at the bottom of the stems, so the missing leaves aren’t obvious on the plant. Then I trim the stems to the length I need. I have hosta leaves arranged in a vase that have been inside for almost a month now, and they look almost as good as the day I cut them.

      I love my raised veggie bed of cinder blocks – planting things in the holes was a lot of fun. Using them as edging for a flower bed is clever. So practical, but also cool-looking! I’m going to post an update of that raised bed of mine later this week, along with some photos.The herbs and flowers have been quite happy living in the cinder blocks!


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