Spring blooms are starting to appear which means it’s a great time to bring them inside and enjoy some beautiful flower arrangements. Although it’s lovely to splurge and buy a gorgeous bouquet from a flower shop, it can add up pretty fast. Plus, it can be incredibly fun and rewarding to create your own arrangements with your favorite blooms and branches.
We spoke to Lydia Andrien, a floral designer and gardener in New York City, and owner of Wyld to get some of her favorite tips and tricks for how to arrange spring flowers. Read on to get inspired!
Invest in a Vase You Love
“A vase makes or breaks the design,” Lydia says, “so you really want to invest in a vase you love, not just any glass or ceramic piece you have around the house. The flowers should be the focal point of the arrangement, but the vase still resonates and is present, and you’re more likely to love the arrangement if the vessel that it sits in tells a story.”
Her formula is to keep the proportion of the flowers 1.5 to 2 times taller than the vase. “That always makes for a great arrangement,” she says. Though flowers sitting really close to the vase is still a look you’ll see, Lydia says, “I think we’re moving past that and onto a more sculptural look.”
Put a Single Bud on Your Desk
“Spring is my favorite time of year for flowers,” Lydia says. “There are so many beautiful blooms, but sometimes your day flies by and you don’t get a chance to see everything budding and blooming. It’s nice to have a tiny little bud—just one stem—on your desk, so you feel like you’re part of what’s happening outside.”
Lydia recommends buying a bud vase you truly love and says one with very small openings that only fit one or two stems work best. But if you don’t have one, she says you can use a teacup or any vessel in your cupboard that is beautiful and can serve a dual purpose. Any kind of bulb that’s blooming is a good choice, she says, like a tulip or muscari (grape hyacinth).
Don’t Be Afraid to Cut
“Don’t be afraid to cut the stem down low to accentuate the flower,” Lydia says. “We love flowers because of their blooms, not their stems, so don’t make the stem the focus. Stalks of green sticking straight up and stuffed in a vase really tightly takes away from why you took those beauties home in the first place.”
She recommends picking one of the larger flowers in your bunch and cutting that stem down until it’s kissing the lid of the vase. “Leave the heavier flowers and pieces at the base and put the lighter, airier accents above, so they all have their moment in the spotlight,” she says. “It can take a few extra moments to do this, but then you’re also spending time with the flowers which is really therapeutic.”
Rearrange Your Arrangements as They Change
“Spend time with the flowers you love so much,” Lydia says. “You’re not finished when you buy the flower, or cut it and put it in water. That’s just the beginning of the relationship. Give each stem a lot of attention and see which way it wants to go and place it in the vase accordingly.
“Spring blooms continue to grow and change shape—they all have a mind of their own, so work with them and rearrange them as you watch them bend and bloom and droop and weep.”
Forage for Flowers
“Foraging for flowers is exhilarating as long as you have permission to do so,” Lydia says. It’s also a great way to find unusual foliage and blooms that you can’t get at a store. Explore abandoned lots, a wild flower field, or even a bush trailing over your fence from a neighbor’s yard.
“This is a way to experiment with stems for next to nothing; you only need a pair of shears, and it’s a great way to connect with nature,” she adds. “I do this when I want to add some unusual foliage to my beautiful blooms back home, like when I have a whole bunch of roses, but want something to add depth or variety. I’ll get a wild vine or rose bush stem and it gives movement to your arrangement.”
“Bring gloves and long sleeves in case you brush up against poison ivy or oak,” she says. “Those thorns can be really mean, so you need to protect yourself.” And most of all, “Be mindful of private property and preserves.”
Make Your Arrangements Sweet and Sour
If you aren’t sure which colors to put together, Lydia suggest you think of your arrangement in terms of “sweet and sour.” “You want to pair something that’s very soft and pretty with something that has a tinge of that color, but is a little darker and more saturated,” she says.
Another thing to keep in mind is that pretty foliage, like lady’s mantle or lamb’s ear can make a strong, sturdy foundation for your arrangement. Then just pick a flower that catches your eye. “If it’s a larger flower, you want to also find something that will lighten the arrangement and make it airier, so you’d pair the heavier bloom with smaller cluster flowers.”
Less is More for Spring Tables
“This year, less is more,” Lydia says. “That’s why it’s a great idea to bring in an Ikebana element for your spring tables. Unlike flower arrangements that focus on looking lush and colorful, fitting as many flowers as we can in a vase, Ikebana concentrates on the overall line and form of each plant material, with a minimalist approach. It’s also a great way to not spend a lot of money on centerpieces.”
“Although the art of Ikebana goes back hundreds of year, there some key elements in every design that anyone can master,” Lydia says. “Use three types of either a flower, a branch, or foliage, and no more than one to three stems of each (tallest stem represents heaven, middle flower or foliage represent humankind, shortest stem represents earth).”
“This type of arranging really stresses that each arrangement is found rather than planned, finding what is already in yourself and nature. Flower frogs and low bowls are the best vases to display your stems. I encourage everyone to read more into the Japanese art of arranging. I find I refer back to it whenever I am working because it brings a spiritual aspect to any design.”
[Photos courtesy of Lydia Andrien]