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Sunday, September 15, 2013

My New Flower Hobby and Anti-Florist Rant

Hobbies are not my things. They never have been. I'm not crafty and I don't have a long attention span. Plus, I have this problem of doing things for the sake of themselves. 

But now things are different. I have a ton of free time on my hands and I get antsy to do something other than housework and job hunting. And I'm trying to plan a wedding on a big question mark of a budget, which lends itself to all questions of DIY.

Everyone thinks I'm nuts that I started thinking about doing my own wedding flowers. But they weren't there for the multiple cross-country florist phone calls and tears of frustration and floral quotes about three times as much as I was hoping to pay. They're flowers! They grow out of the ground! Where are you coming up with these numbers in the thousands?

So it was kind of a happy accident when I realized that I could start practicing my craft before committing to it. I spotted a small U-Pick flowers pointing off a road I'd never been down in Pullman. So after a particularly stressful day (as far as stressful days for me goes in Pullman), I followed the arrow, took a left at the second arrow, and then I was up at the top of a hill on Old Moscow Road, heading up to a private little farmhouse.

I didn't see a single person the whole time I was there. It's all entirely self serve.

You grab a little bucket, fill it up, come back with flowers, transfer them to milk jugs. They have a water spigot and free packets of flower food. It's $7 per bucketful. 

But where do you pay if you don't see the owners? Well, duh, using the pay box nailed to a tree.

These things still crack me up because I can't imagine how this would go if it were in NYC. There's a good wad of cash in there. It is not locked with some slot at the end for the money to go into. People are so trusting here... and rightfully so! It might never stop being bizarre to me. 

For the next half or or so it was just me in the flower fields, finding what I liked, picking the ones with the fewest amount of bees on them, filling up the bucket. I felt like a happy, unsupervised child in a meadow. 

 Here's what I came home with on this first attempt at floral design. Keep in mind that mayyybe I didn't see the shears until it was too late and I had just snapped these poor flowers off with my hands. I told you I wasn't crafty.

The first step is fun because it's so calming. It's kind of like when adults give children coloring books. It keeps them occupied. Do kids still color? Or do they only play with iPads now? Kids these days.

Oh right, but the first step: cleaning of all the little leaves and dead parts, tidying them up before they go into the treated water. I learned that you can't put flowers with leaves into the water because those leaves are what dies and makes the water all mucky and maybe that's why my flowers get so gross so fast all the time.

So turn up the music, breathe easy and get to work. It feels meditative and you'll be done before you know it. Then, get down to the arranging. Start with two main "anchor" flowers, wrap them together with floral tape. Add another flower, rewrap. They don't tell you that its not easy working with floral tape because its sticky on both sides, but almost not sticky enough to stay where you want it to. I've found that it helps to use one continuous piece of tape, although I've read you should do the opposite. But this way, at least, there aren't all those odds and ends sticking out that you have to deal with.

As you're arranging, make sure to get in enough greenery and "filler". That's something that isn't second nature to me yet, but I'm working on it. And play by the rules of three: there should always be an odd number of each type of flower. Makes it more appealing, I guess, when it isn't all Noah's Arc-ish.

When you're done adding flowers, its time to wrap, starting at the top and working your way down and then up again. I got some tulle as a tester. I like it when it's tightly wrapped like a mummy, not all tulle-d out and puffy. Secure with a pin on the back, and you're done!

I'm still trying to work out how to get the right texture, too. It's more challenging than I expected. Ignore that little texture abomination on the side of this one. But how cute is that billyball!

Then I played around making boutineers. These are just rosemary springs that act as a backdrop to a small billyball or small purple flowers, or both. Obviously like the twine wrapping best here. Here, you strip everything off at the halfway point, wrap it with floral wire this time, and then cover the wire with ribbon, tulle, twine, whatever.

 My second attempt was a little more successful. I think it was heartening to see that I'd improved. First, i made sure I picked a better selection of flowers to work with. And I cut each one further down so there was more flexibility when arranging. You want them all to be the same length so when you stick them in water, they all get nourished. Plus, it just looks better that way.

I ran out of floral tape (see, I guess I am using too much) so I only had enough flowers for one small bouquet. As for the rest, I practiced making arrangements. 

See? Who needs to waste upwards of $300 per bouquet with a florist? As long as Blooms in a Box delivers to its standards, I think this will be totally doable. 

And the final product will be special because so many of us came together to do it.

Right? Guys? Bridesmaids? Friends?

... Please?

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