Whether a romantic surprise for a lover, an elegant thank-you to a client, or even an impulsive “treat yo’ self” gift for your dining room table, flowers are a universally appreciated everyday luxury.
To help guide you in either personally arranging or ordering an impressive bouquet, we spoke with Brooke Harris, store manager and event specialist for Ovando, one of New York City’s premier floral design studios.
Harris shares her five expert tips on how to buy, arrange and care for floral arrangements — all at your perfect price point.
Consider Your Space Before you even look at a bunch of roses, think about where the arrangement/s will live: a grand, gilded ballroom? Minimalist white-and-chrome office? Ultrafeminine bedroom? Let the ambience and pre-existing decor dictate your choices.
If you’re working with a florist, describe the space to them so they can suggest appropriate blooms. For a no-nonsense office, Harris advises trying something “a little more sculptural. We might pair calla lilies and bear grass with orchids or a succulent”—a modern, unexpected pairing to complement the starkness of the room.
A more romantic setting, such as a wedding event hall, calls for “elegant and luxurious design aspects — utilize blooms like peonies, ranunculus or garden roses,” says Harris. These lush, soft-petaled flowers conjure an amorous mood.
Use the Right Vase
Of course the flowers are the focal point, but what you put them in still counts when fine-tuning the overall vibe of your arrangement. For example, a taller vase with long stems looks impressive and romantic, while low or squat vases are an appropriate choice when sending a desktop arrangement to a work colleague.
If you’re uncertain of where your arrangement will sit, Harris’s go-to vase is the cube shape. To elevate the presentation, she suggests a leaf-wrap lining with an aspidistra leaf to mask the stems.
Save Big with In-season Blooms
When blooms are out of season, they have to be imported from around the world where they are growing: orchids from Thailand, hydrangeas from Holland, peonies from New Zealand. Shipping these delicate and scarce blooms causes prices to skyrocket.
“The best way to keep any arrangement affordable is to utilize seasonal and local flowers,” advises Harris. Google one of the numerous handy guides with peak blooming seasons for buds. “Tulips, lilac and quince are my pick for spring; peonies and zinnias for the summer. For fall, my favorites are dahlias and feather grass, and for winter, I absolutely love anemones and amaryllises.”
Obey the Rule of Three
Even if you have a limitless budget, resist the urge to pack your arrangement with lilies and orchids and hydrangeas and spray roses and Gerbera daisies. In the floral-arranging game, less is definitely more.
“At Ovando we keep to, at most, three floral elements and one grass or leaf element,” says Harris. “Anything more than that and the design loses strength and can look messy.” To keep your arrangement chic and unfussy, pick core buds — Harris personally loves roses with orchids — and add a single green or leafy accent, like lily grass.
Understand Flower TLC
Flower arranging is about so much more than dropping a bouquet into a vase of water. Harris urges you to “Know your bloom!” so you can tailor the water temperature for your particular buds. “Many flowers prefer room temperature water, not cold water. Roses actually prefer lukewarm water,” she advises.
And let’s talk about stems: To snip or not to snip? While trimming has become customary, Harris points out that “Woody flowers like hydrangeas or branches need to have their stems crushed — preferably using a hammer — to properly absorb water.” Who knew?
For inspiration on your next arrangement, check out Ovando’s impressive portfolio, where the talented team have created elegant desktop and bridal arrangements, a “living wall” of orchids for the Dior storefront in California, and funky topiaries for the Tim Burton exhibit opening at MoMa in NYC!