I am a Flower lover big time! All year-round I bring flowers from my local florists into my house. In addition, I enjoy planting my own flowers around the house. For many years, I’ve been collecting and planting and seeding African violets. At one time, I had over fifty different African violet plants with different flower and leaf shape, myriad of colors and hues, and in different stages of blooming and growth.
Flowers bring peace and comfort to my daily life. I put flowers everywhere: Living areas, bedrooms, bathrooms, on my working desk, on the counter top of the kitchen bar. I always have a legitimate reason to surround myself with flowers. The only reason is my passion for fresh living and breathing flowers.
Did you know that there is an estimate of 240,000 types of flowering plants in the world?
Do you know that flowers have a positive effect on our emotional and psychological health? Well, Ancient Egyptians and Tibetans did!
Flowers bring smiles to our faces. They mend distances within relationships. They take any event to a new height.
Today, I would love to introduce you to a concept of designing your own flower arrangements by using plants and flowers from your own yard or balcony garden. And do it very affordably. Very often for free. It will only require a handful of your desire and time. Kathi Thomas who is an outstanding floral designer herself will guide you through this adorable, peace-making process of making your home a more welcome place to be.
Designing From Your Yard
I’m a firm believer of having fresh flowers in the home. When some folks hear that, they hear a cash register ringing somewhere. However, often, the “flowers” we have in our home are from out of our yard, and no, I don’t have a Martha Stewart kind of garden outside.
We live just South West of Austin – it is hot, it is (mostly) dry in the summer, and if you scratch the surface, you’ll hit solid limestone just a few inches down. Coming from SE Texas, where if you put a stick in the ground, it grows and flowers, learning to love “gardening” in Central Texas took some time, but I’ve learned to love the beauty of what we have.
This time of year, the grounds look like sunshine; there are many colors of brilliant yellow wildflowers – even with so little rain the past month. Other than last year, when we really didn’t get any rain for almost a year, there is almost always something blooming outside, and if not, there is pretty foliage. Last year, I did a bit with purple sage (a lovely gray foliage) and rosemary (for the fragrance.)
You, too, can have “flowers” in your home every week – just look around. What is in your yard? If you’re in an apartment, what kinds of plants are you growing that you might “judiciously” trim?
Designing with Succulents
Succulents are really popular right now. You can purchase a few of them, repot into a larger pot or put in your flower beds (well drained, lots of sun.) A VERY simple centerpiece is to take a flat glass plate, put a bit of moss (soaked in water first, then squeezed mostly dry) and a few black rocks. Cut your succulent just below the level of soil, and insert into the moss. The moss will keep it moist enough, and it will easily last a week, then you can repot it, as it will likely have started to sprout more roots.
If you’ve got foliage outside, clip several types of it and place in a vase about 4” high. Remove all foliage that will be lower than the water level, and place it so that you’re putting the stem always to your right, and top of stem always to your left.
It helps if you’ve got a “lazy Susan” or other type of turntable (you can get inexpensive plastic ones at the discount stores.) That way, you can rotate the container as you add the stems. That gives you a nice spiral, and as you continue to add greenery it will start to stand up more towards the center. If you’ve got a couple of blooms, you can add them in, but learn to enjoy the beauty of foliage, too.
Using Herbs For Culinary Bouquets
For end of the year gifts for some of the school staff at my daughter’s school, I made “culinary bouquets.” I took small vases (approx. 3-4” tall with openings about 1”) and added in fresh thyme, lemon basil, lavender, and Mexican & Greek oreganos.
I started with the thyme and Greek oregano, as they are more of a “laying down” type of foliage, then added in the basil, lavender and Mexican oregano, which has a lovely lavender blossom on it right now. The little bouquets were lovely, and the aroma was great.
Since I put them in plain water (instead of using flower food), the recipients can use them when they cook.
You can easily grow herbs in your yard if you’ve got a sunny spot, or in an apartment, place them in 4-6” pots and put on your balcony or in a location that gets plenty of light. (Put your hand between the window and the location you want to place the plants – if you see a distinct shadow, it is a good spot. If you see a black shadow, it is probably too much sun, and if you see a faint shadow, it isn’t enough light.
If you’ll do this for most of your flowers, then when you have a really special occasion, you can afford to go to your local florist and have a wonderful design made for your home.
Design for Your Home from Your Heart
I hope you’ll all resolve to have flowers in your home – as a floral designer, I can appreciate the beautiful blooms in our local floral shops, but I also want to encourage you to buy sustainably. Ask your florist where the flowers were grown- encourage them to buy locally. Check out farmers’ markets and buy local blooms there, too.
When your flowers are past their prime, compost them, don’t toss them in the trash. If you’re in an apartment, see if you can work out a place where a community compost can be located. You’ll be glad you did, and your plants will thank you for it by growing even more beautifully when you use compost on them instead of chemical fertilizers!
Kathi Thomas, AIFD, PFCI, is an accomplished floral designer who creates her flower arrangements for many occasions out of her Texas-based studio. She is one of those people who loves what she does, and does it with an eco clean, eco green attitude and environmentally sensitive designs. In Kathi’s words, “You can still have a lush and exquisite event, and you can leave on your honeymoon, knowing that you had the event about which you’ve dreamed, but not left a nightmare for our earth.”