April showers bring May flowers. At least that's the saying most of us have come to put on repeat as soon as the months of spring roll around.
As much as spring is associated with the coming of flowers, summertime is not to be overlooked for its blooms either. After all, 'tis the season to sit back, relax, and take in the beauty of nature surrounding you.
"During the summer, it's okay to let your feel a bit looser. You're not jamming all of the flowers together in a vase, but letting them breathe," says Takaya Sato, creative director of . "This also lets people really take in each individual flower as well as the overall impact of the design."
With the official start to summer finally here, we thought it was about time we brushed up on our summer flower IQ. Here, Takaya show us how to use the blooms of summer in three different arrangement that you can easily recreate at home.
- Peonies: Loved for their big heads and bright petals, peonies reach their peak in late spring and early summer, so you're able to source especially large and luscious varietals.
- Viburnum: These light, puffy flower clusters are sometimes mistaken for hydrangea, though they have much smaller petals. Later in the fall, their shrubs bear fruit.
- Chamomile: It's one of the oldest and most widely used herbs around, often seen in teas and some homeopathic treatments. They look like tiny daisies, almost in the format of a spray rose.
- Sage: These beautiful blooms are known for their dainty texture and rich purple color (they're also edible). The flowers are usually trimmed when they're being grown for medicinal or herb usage.
- Mountain laurel: The flowering branches from this shrub typically grow in the eastern half of the U.S. The leaves are dark and glossy, and their flowers are dainty, pale pink and white. Their strong stems make great bases for mixed pieces or on their own. If no longer available, camelia branches are an alternative available year round.
- Saponaria: They feature very small heads of pink flowers and are usually found in the wild during late spring or early summer. They're especially good for adding light touches of color to an arrangement.
- Larkspur (AKA delphinium): These tall flowers are very popular and widely used because they make strong volume and come in many deeply saturated colors, like blue.
Skinnier-stemmed flowering herbs tend to be under-appreciated, Sato notes, yet they make great fillers for arrangements and can be sourced locally at the onset of summer.
For this small arrangement, Sato purposely placed flowers in a for its shallow bowl and opacity, mainly to hide the , a metal disk, usually with many nails facing upwards that can be used to support the flower stems.
The kenzan is an ancient Japanese tool that designers like Sato use today to allow the blooms to drink up as much water as possible and provide structure for the stems. Just try not to move this one around too much after arranging; kenzans are more prone to coming undone with rough movement.
One of the basic principles of flower arranging: start with the biggest stems first. In this case — and for the other arrangements — thicker stems like mountain laurel and dill flower go first to help create the initial structure for the arrangement, which can then be filled in with the thinner stems like dill, chamomile or sage.
Try it: As a centerpiece or accent piece. The lush and loose symmetry of this arrangement makes it perfect for a , tabletop or credenza.
When doing a hand-tied bouquet like this one, you need to select the proper container to best showcase the technique. In this case, the volume in the middle of the makes the container feel much larger and draws the eye to the hand-tied stems. This particular vase has a narrow, long, round mouth that's ideal for bouquets with some spread and volume.
The hand-tie technique itself is based on a classic French method that makes the flowers look deliberately handled and refined. To tie your arrangement, hold the bouquet in one hand and arrange the stems in a spiral, always in the same direction. Sato uses or to tie a bouquet.
Try it: As a hostess gift. The small base of this bouquet makes it possible to place basically anywhere and easy to transport.
For a bold arrangement, opt for a ; the height of the container adds drama.
As with the other bouquets, it's best to start with the thickest stemmed flowers first. For a tall piece it's also important to use flowers, like mountain laurel, that have long enough, and strong enough, stems to keep the arrangement looking full and healthy. When making an arrangement with a lot of flowers, it's key to arrange the materials in a spiral formation, notes Sato, allowing you to fit more stems into an arrangement in a vase with a narrow opening. This spiral method is also best for placing flowers on an angle within the vase–the water at the bottom and even distribution allow the vase to stay stable and upright.
Just remember that the top of vessel should be tall enough for most people to pass by without it getting in their faces or interfering with anything on the table.
Try it: As a statement piece. This arrangement is sure to make an impression at dinner parties or in your foyer.
And to keep your lovely summer arrangements from wilting too soon, try a few of Sato's expert tips:
- Always cut your stems on an angle to make sure they are porous and able to absorb as much water as possible.
- Put 2-3 drops of in the water to help kill some of the potentially harmful bacteria that can come from the flowers or dust or dirt in the air.
- Keep the flowers out of direct sunlight. While some tropical blooms are hearty enough to survive higher temperatures, the more local, seasonal blooms cannot.
- But too much cold air can also lead your arrangement to an early demise, so keep blooms in an air conditioned space but not directly in front of cold air.
- Design the arrangements in water (using the kenzan, hand-tying the flowers, or letting them support themselves against the ) rather than floral foam, which can keep the blooms from getting more water.