I ended last week explaining the soaking of water-holding foam, Oasis. I neglected to mention that the water you are soaking it in should have flower food in it, whether it be the packet that came with the flowers or my combination of 7UP and water. The dry foam does not contain any nutrients, acidifiers or germicides.
Secondly, I mentioned cutting flowers on Thursday evening. I want to explain that a bit. Commercial flower farms always cut their flowers in the morning because it fits their shipping schedules, and that is when labor is available for the task. There is actually a problem with this, though. The flower has gone through 10 or 12 hours of night, where it has used up many of the nutrients that it developed during the beautiful previous day.
I always say that the home gardener should cut their flowers in the last couple of hours of sunlight, the evening before being used, after the sun, water and nutrients have filled the stems and leaves with nutrients. With few exceptions, they will last longer, and having them in water during the night in the warmth of your home will fill those stems and leaves with water containing those life-giving nutrients.
In your mind, take a moment to visualize the arrangement you want to make. It will most probably be an all-around centerpiece, but you could also make a beautiful one-sided, tall and narrow or low, long table piece. It is important to know because you will need some greens to lay out the form, as well as to fill in.
Now you are ready. Start the arrangement by inserting the stems of some fresh greens you might have picked from your yard. Privet, from the hedge, some evergreen clippings, and ferns or even rhododendron leaves will work. Do not overdo because flowers and their foliage will also help to hide the mechanics and the foam. And by putting in too many stems, you might cause the foam to break apart. Breaking apart might not be a problem if the foam was in a container or basket that will hold it together.
Let’s talk first about making a centerpiece. I would begin by measuring from the center of the foam to where you want these first four flowers to be. Select five like-looking blossoms, with about the same size heads, from your collection and cut four of them to length. Remove any leaves that might be going into the foam and insert them, forming across; think north, south, east and west. Be sure to insert them so that the end of the stem is near the center of the foam and near its bottom. Now, insert that fifth bloom vertically in the center. You have now created the form for a perfect half-round centerpiece for your table.
That is as far as I can go with this arrangement. The rest is up to you. Take the flowers that you have and insert them as you wish. If those flowers are of many colors, be certain to try and balance them so they are pleasant to view, all the while trying to insert the stems as deep into the foam as you can. When you are finished, tuck in a few extra greens to hide the foam. Step back and look at it from all sides and make any adjustments. You have just done it as we would in the flower shop. Perhaps we might have done it more quickly.
You can make this centerpiece with many different looks. If it is going on a long dining room table that seats 10 or 12, I might make the flowers on each side 8 or 10 inches and on the other two sides 12 or even 14 inches long, and the center no more than 14 inches tall. Then fill it in with flowers as you did your all-around centerpiece. For this, you might want to use a larger container and a whole block of Oasis.
In either case, when doing centerpieces, we always set our elbow on the table, fist straight up. Using this measurement will assure that your centerpiece will not get in the way of cross-table conversation.
I seem to be on a roll. Perhaps one more of this topic same will follow next week.