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My stepdaughter Eve asked me if I would like to do the flowers for her Vermont wedding last August. Of course I said “Yes!” Then I proceeded to learn a few things about floral arranging.
I had recently been introduced to the concept of ‘pot et fleur‘ arrangements and thought they would be very pretty for the wedding. A pot et fleur arrangement starts with a living potted plant to which cut flower stems are added. The live plant provides an armature for the cut flowers and it is something guests can take home and plant. I chose some lavender plants for the outdoor wedding because lavender is also a natural insect repellent. I added cut flowers such as monarda, hydrangea, lisianthus and sedum ‘madrona’ from my garden, as well as several plants from my mother’s garden. I also reserved some cut flowers at the local garden center, including dahlias, snapdragons and more lisianthus.
I found other plants as well. One of my favorites was a potted iris to which I added lisianthus, dianthus and little joe pye weed buds from my garden.
I discovered lisianthus, which is an annual, when searching for plants online that would be good cut flowers. I bought a few plants and put them in my garden in the Spring, but when it came time to go to Vermont for the wedding I found that I needed to supplement my homegrown ones. In fact, I learned they can be a little tricky to grow. I recommend lisianthus because it is as delicate as a rose but less formal. Like roses, it has lovely buds that are almost as pretty as the open flower. Lisianthus is also a workhorse of a plant and if conditioned properly will hold up for many many hours.
Conditioning extends the life of fresh flower arrangements. It’s especially important with ‘pot et fleur’ arrangements because the cut stem will eventually be put in the soil of the potted plant rather than be submerged in a vase filled with water. (More on Conditioning below) We arrived in Vermont the day before the wedding with a car full of cut flowers in buckets of water. That afternoon I recut all the stems and resubmerged them in buckets of warm water (up to but not exceeding 100 degrees fahrenheit.) I left them in a cool darkish barn off the side of the house overnight. The next morning I started making the arrangements. The wedding was at 4 pm. The flowers held up beautifully, even the bride’s bouquet!
Conditioning: (Reprinted from The Annual Garden Wheel) As soon as flowers are cut, place them in a deep bucket of lukewarm water, which is easier for the plant to take up than hot or cold water. Do not leave sitting in the sun too long. Most flowers should be cut just before they are fully open. Tight buds may add interest to an arrangement, but they will usually not open after being cut. After bringing flowers indoors, recut the stems at an angle with a sharp knife and put them loosley back into a bucket of warm water submerging about three-fourths length of stem. Allow water to freely circulate around the stems. Cutting stems at an angle allows them to absorb water even when resting on the bottom of a vase. When recutting stems, do it underwater. For some plants this is important as it prevents air bubbles from forming in the stem and hampering water uptake. Use a leaf stripper to strip off any foliage that will fall below the waterline in either the conditioning container or in the vase. Leaves decay rapidly in water, creating a haven for bacteria. Let flowers stand in the water as it cools, preferably in a dark, cool place. If flowers are going to be arranged in a vase with water, then a few hours of conditioning is adequate. If flowers are being inserted in floral form or in a pot et fleur arrangement, let them stand in the water overnight.
Wedding Memento: Use a flower press to keep memories of the flowers at the wedding alive. Afterwards, mount them for framing or decoupage. Order a flower press kit from Womanswork.