Decorating: A Bowl of Garden Flowers

I HAVE TWO THINGS TO REPORT. First, today Will and I are celebrating our 16th anniversary. And next, Erin Brady stopped by to show how common garden flowers can be turned into a glamorous centerpiece.

A little story:

At 6:00 this morning, I sent Erin an email, asking if she could help me select flowers and greens from the gardens here, and then arrange them in a bowl.  She quickly agreed.

But when Erin arrived on my front porch, I noticed she had brought along a bucket of fancy florist flowers. How odd, I thought. Did she not understand our mission?

She set the bucket down, and then handed me a little card. This is what it said:

As it turned out, Will had visited Erin’s shop last week, and arranged for her to visit the house today. She was supposed to ring the bell, and ask if she could “borrow a vase.” She’d take the vase back to her shop, outfit it with the kinds of flowers I like, and then deliver it later as a surprise anniversary gift.

The only snag? Erin sensed that I’d know something was up. Because why on earth would a professional flower arranger (who also works in a flower shop) need to borrow a vase?

Anyway, Erin was relieved when I asked her to stop by. The vase-ruse wasn’t necessary, and thus the surprise was really a surprise! I’ll show you the anniversary arrangement in a future post.

Meanwhile I’d just like to say that Will is a sneaky guy. He’s also a considerate mate!

And now that I’ve bored you with my love life, let’s move on to our centerpiece project. Perhaps you’d like to make a Bowl of Garden Flowers for your own home:

First, select a bowl. I used my sterling silver bowl, but any water-tight container, at least 2-inches in depth, will work. I suspect you have such an item in your own collection of serving pieces.

Next, grab a block of floral foam (sold as “Oasis”), and cut it to fit the bowl.

Add water to the bowl, and let the foam absorb it. The foam should be thoroughly saturated before any stems are added.

Use green florist’s tape to secure the foam to the container, as shown. The tape will keep your green “pin cushion” was bouncing around during stem-sticking time.

Note: You can obtain floral foam and florist’s tape from just about any craft store. You can also order the items from Amazon, and have them delivered right to your door.

Now head outside, and collect some flowers and greens!

And speaking of greens…Erin and I both agree that these are the secret to a lush, formal arrangement. If you use enough greenery, only a small quantity of flowers will be necessary.

We clipped several stems of pachysandra, and arranged them around the perimeter of the bowl.

From the Woodland Garden, we cut three hosta stems. The variety is ‘Paul’s Glory.’ Erin placed two stems in the “front” of the arrangement, and one stem behind.

Also clipped from the Woodland, and arranged between and above the pachysandra, were the fronds of medium-green “New York” ferns…

along with fronds of this eerie-looking “ghost” fern.

As for flowers, we managed to find on the property the colorful subjects you see pictured above. Here they are, up close and personal:

Three stems of white hydrangea, which show well against the variegated hosta leaves…

A few stems of lavender-hued Buddleja (a/k/a “Butterfly Bush”)…

Golden Coreopsis from the Serpentine Garden

Azure Bachelor Buttons (they are magnets for honey bees) from the Kitchen Garden

Some annual blue Salvia (var. ‘Victoria’)…

And zinnias in assorted colors.

Two tips from Erin: Always cut the stems of greens and flowers with a sharp knife. Also, make the cut at an angle. The angle-cut increases a stem’s ability to absorb water.

Now, where to place this low-arrangement? Well, I thought it looked dashing in the dining room.

And in the parlor, it brought magic to the mirrored mantel.

But I especially liked what it did for the swivel-top tea table near the staircase in the entrance hall. So there it shall remain. With the daily addition of water, the arrangement will stay fresh and lovely for 5-7 days.  And this beauty was achieved for no expense at all!

Has this tutorial inspired you to produce your own, unique bowl of garden flowers? I certainly hope so. Perhaps you can voice your thoughts in the comments field below.

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  1. Oh Kevin, Will outsmarted me..for sure! I wondered how he could send flowers to you! they are gorgeous. All the best! Mary

  2. Kelli P says:

    Happy anniversary! The flower arrangement is gorgeous!

  3. Happy Anniversary! Nice that you both thought of flowers for your love. 🙂

  4. Happy Anniversary!!

  5. I remember being able to bring in flowers from the garden. It’s been do terribly dry here in SoCal lately that all our flowers are falling. So sad.
    I hope you and Will had a happy anniversary celebration. Here’s to MANY more happy years together!

  6. All you need is love. Many more!

  7. Aggie Herron says:

    Happy Anniversary!

    I so enjoy your blog recipes etc thanks from Aussieland!

  8. Very happy anniversary! 🙂

  9. Cary Bradley says:

    So happy for you, dear friend! Bon Anniversaire!!! Yes indeed, you have inspired me to try to bring glorious flowers inside. Thanks so much for the detailed tutorial! 🙂

  10. Happy Anniversary, Kevin & Will. Sounds like you’ve built a happy life together, and we’re the lucky beneficiaries!

  11. Susan L. Golden says:

    Happy Anniversary to you and your mate, Kevin! Such beautiful flowers and all from your garden! I think that I am going to go out right now and pick a bunch! Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  12. Shirley B. says:

    Happy Anniversary you two!

  13. They are beautiful. Happy Anniversary!

  14. Georgette says:

    Happy 16 years and the arrangement looks stunning.

  15. Erin Brady says:

    Yeah! Happy anniversary! I’m so glad you were suprised! Enjoy all those flowers! Xo

  16. Congratulations on your anniversary! And how cool of Sneaky Will to surprise you with flowers — as a wedding officiant here in California, I always love hearing about couples doing those kinds of special things for each other. If the two of you ever decide you want to do a renewal-of-vows, I’d be happy to hop on a plane. 😉 I understand you maybe have a garden setting that might work…?

  17. Happy Anniversary! You always inspire me.

  18. badger gardener says:

    A very Happy Anniversary to you both.
    As always, Erin’s arrangement is just gorgeous. So glad you are sharing her talents with us.

  19. How beautiful! Belated happy Anniversary!

  20. Virginia says:

    Loads of happiness to you and Will!! The arrangement is beautiful and, as always, your instructions and tips are so helpful.

  21. Two things: first, I love a good love story, so happy anniversary to you both! and second, I am clearly just a lowly vegetable gardener who happens to have some flowering plants around…but not enough right now to make such a beautiful arrangement (although, with your tutorial, I feel like I COULD, if only I had the materials!).

    This inspires me once more to focus more heavily on the flowers for winter sowing, etc. in my gardens for next summer. Thanks for the lovely post.

  22. Liz in Salem says:

    Kevin, Happy Anniversary to you and Will. Your flower gardens are obviously showing the love you share with them. I walked around our farm and took a video of my gardens. So many varieties of daylily, Asiatic lily and tiger lilies and perennials and all are extra lush this summer. I plan to gather and put together an arrangement (or two) for our company on Saturday. Thank you for the beautiful photos and ideas.

  23. Happy Anniversary!! Beautiful arrangement!

  24. Barbara Harding says:

    Happy Anniversary! Erin Brady does an outstanding arrangement once again!!!!!! She certainly has talent.

  25. Ava lansbery says:

    As the old folk song says….there’s only two things money can’t buy, that’s true love and home grown tomatoes. I’m so glad you have both. Thanks for the work you put into your blog, as you know…you make many people glad you do.

  26. Donna Allenbaugh says:

    Happy Anniversary! Beautiful flowers.

  27. Lin McKinney says:

    Just Beautiful!!!!!! Happy Anniversary!!

  28. Rhonda Strahler says:

    July 29th is My anniversary too!! My hubby Paul & I have been married 20 years, but have been together (and married in our hearts) for 30 years. Hope your next 14 are as sweet and exciting as ours have been…..

  29. Happy 16th wedding anniversary Kevin and Will…many years of happiness….love the flower arrangement too!!!

  30. Happy Day!
    Want to let you know the milk and water spray works on roses. I was about to throw out all my rose plants as the hot, humid, sea spray weather I have is a real boon for black spot. No more. Thank you, thank you.

  31. Happy Anniversary Kevin & Will! May your love become stronger wih each coming year…

  32. Happy Anniversary Kevin and Will, The flowers are beautiful and thanks for your blog.

  33. I wish you a very Happy Anniversary with Louis Armstrong interpretation of La vie en rose (originally sung by Edith Piaf)

    You can find it on Utube – it is a lovely song to dance to.

    La vie en rose

    Hold me close and hold me fast
    The magic spell you cast
    This is la vie en rose
    When you kiss me heaven sighs
    And though I close my eyes
    I see la vie en rose
    When you press me to your heart
    I’m in a world apart
    A world where roses bloom
    And when you speak
    Angels sing from above
    Everyday words seems
    To turn into love song
    Give your heart and soul to me
    And life will always be la vie en rose

    Vive l’amour!

  34. Happy anniversary! I wish you many more happy years!

  35. Gretchen says:

    Dear Kevin and Will,
    Happiness shared is delight doubled. Thank you for letting us share your joy of 16 happy years. May this be just the beginning of many many more years to come.

  36. Happy Anniversary Kevin & Will! Love the lovely arrangement – doesn’t take many flowers to have an impressive centerpiece. I recently used Swiss chard, dill seed heads, coriander in various stages – flower, seeds; flat leaf kale, parsley, oregano blossoms – placed in a blue Ball vintage quart jar tied with raffia. It was lovely – the perfect gift for an 80th birthday celebration.

  37. Happy anniversary and the flowers are so beautiful.

  38. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    The bowl is as stunning as what’s in it.
    I use that mirror trick a lot around here with bouquets and arrangements.
    Congratulations on the event of your Anniversary!

  39. [email protected] says:

    Happy happy anniversary
    Here’s to many more!!!!!!
    Despina and Michael

  40. Happy anniversary! wow 16 years . an
    d many more to come.

  41. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!! Good tutorial on a mass arrangement…my favorite kind of arrangement. Clearly, I have to plant some ferns and plant flowers that are good as cut flowers. I have too many day lilies! Hope you share what you all had for your anniversary dinner….yum!

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