Monday, April 13, 2009

Floral Fantasies

Flowers are my passion.

They make my heart go pitter pat. They fill me with joy and happiness. Flowers give my soul a window peek of heaven. I love to grow them, look at them and have them in my home.

But really. What woman doesn't?

When I was a slim, young thing I read a book called Rebecca. The title character was dead. But she had been a beautiful, rich, and privileged woman who lived in a manor house surrounded by manicured English gardens. Every morning after finishing her correspondence on her monogrammed stationary at her carved mahogany desk, she would don her wide-brimmed hat, slip on her garden gloves and with a large cutting basket on her arm and pruning shears in her hand she would go out to the cutting gardens to gather arm loads of fragrant roses, lilies and peonies for magnificent arrangements to place on marble pedestals in her drawing room and foyer. And maybe one for the grand piano in the music room.

The thought of such privilege made me sigh. That would never be my destiny. I would never be rich and privileged enough to have cutting gardens. We lived in the Midwest where the only flowers were petunias, marigolds and geraniums. They make terrible and stinky arrangements. We grew nothing appropriate for cutting while wearing a wide-brimmed hat and garden gloves.

Then I moved to Oregon and discovered that common, plebeian folk do indeed grow cutting flowers. In Oregon even the most non-descript and ramshackle houses have beautiful flowers blooming in the yard. In Oregon flowers can grow without attention. Now even I could grow magnificent lush flowers for beautiful arrangements. Theoretically. I'm still working on the "magnificent, lush" part.


As I write this the steady spring rain outside the window has turned into big white fluffy frozen cold precipitation. Where am I???? Minnesota???? This is April in Oregon!! The apple and pear orchards are supposed to be bursting forth in fragrant bloom right now! Someone contact the governor... the State Police... the Oregon Commissioner of Magnificent Lush Flower Growth!!

Never mind. I'm going to just close my eyes and pretend it is Spring.


Okay. Where was I?

Magnificent Flower Arrangements.

So when I came to Oregon I found out I, too, could cut flowers and arrange them to give joy and beauty to myself and others. I took a flower arranging class. I began practicing my new-found privilege. Over the years I have arranged flowers for church, for weddings, for concert events and for my home. I have worked as an assistant to a florist during wedding season. I have learned that you don't have to have a mahogany writing desk to have flower arrangements in your home. You don't even need a drawing room.

Which leads me to the point of this long, rambling post.

I learned something new. I love it when I learn something new. I want to share what I learned.

I picked up twenty stems of daffodils ($3) at the store since I couldn't bear to cut the few dressing my yard and also ten stems of tulips for an Easter arrangment. I was a little concerned that the daffodils were being sold in clusters lying in a box without water. The stems looked shriveled and slightly brownish. As usual, the buds were not opened yet but I was concerned about how fresh they were and those shrivelly stems.

I've known that daffodils cannot be arranged with other flowers since their stems emit a slimy watery sap that will cause other flowers in a vase to wilt. So I have always used them alone. But here is what I learned: that these dry, shriveled daffodils stems that had not been watered, could be placed into an arrangement with other flowers if the ends of their stems were not trimmed. Untrimmed, they would not emit their sap but would still absorb the water needed to open the blooms. Same with the tulips.

So I placed the flowers in a vase of water without trimming the ends as I have always done when arranging flowers.

I just love learning new tricks!

If the daffodils are cut from the yard, the slimy sap will come out of the stems at the cutting. They can be placed in water for a bit and then after changing the water for fresh, other flowers can safely be added to the arrangement.

I don't know how I missed this information in the past. I clearly have so much more to learn before I'll be anything like Rebecca. Not that it's my aspiration to be like her. I just want her cutting gardens.

I am relieved to say that the hideous white precipitation has subsided. Maybe it was just a disturbing dream.

I need some chocolate. Where's that basket?


  1. Flowers bring such joy, we are heading into autumn here, I only have a few camellias and some dead hydrangeas to work with! Thank you for your comment on my blog re failed homeschooling. I'm getting over the trauma! slowly. We seem to visit quite a few of the same blogs looking at your list, its a small world.

  2. When you said you were from New Zealand, I had to look. It is so utterly strange to think about it being fall in April there. It's a weird thing to wrap my mind around having never been to the Southern Hemisphere.

    Thanks for visiting!


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