Step-by-Step Flower Design
Good afternoon, McLean. My blog will be appearing regularly in McLean Patch on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month.
As a professional flower designer, and the owner/founder of Flowers by binaifer based in McLean, I want to give you step-by-step instructions for “forcing” flowering branches from your garden ~ a lovely way to have flowers in the midst of winter and an unique alternative to “forcing” bulbs.
Step-by-Step “Forcing” of Flowering Branches:
My inspiration is my love of flowers and flowering trees indigenous to the Northern Virginia area. I cut branches of dogwood, forsythia, and pear from my own garden, and use them in my flowers designs and in my house.
In January 2010, I was asked to give a flower design workshop and demo to a Great Falls Garden Club on "forcing" branches cut from my garden. A little difficult to cut dogwood, forsythia, and pear amidst the bitter cold & the snow/ice (see caution below), but I decorated the bare branches w/orchids (tumbling out of the branches), put on a slideshow of my flower designs... and, it was much appreciated by the gardeners!
You will need:
~ Budding branches of dogwood (white or pink flowers), forsythia (yellow flowers), Bradford pear (white flowers), redbud (pink/purple flowers), or any other flowering branch from your garden.
~ Clippers (preferably ratcheting clippers)
Be careful cutting branches in the winter ~ Do not cut branches in the snow and ice, and do not cut branches requiring a ladder!
1. Choose your vase (or, have several and see which one you like), and fill with water.
2. On a mild, sunny day in mid-January, walk around your gardens and see which of your flowering trees have nice, plump buds.
3. With your clippers (or ratcheting clippers for hard wood, like dogwood, cut several branches from your favorite tree(s) in your garden.
4. Bring the branches inside & untangle them. Cut off broken bits or twigs.
5. Choose your vases, and fill with warm (not hot) water.
6. Using your clippers, cut the bottom of each branch @ a sharp angle, and place immediately in a vase.
7. I use long, willowy, thin branches of forsythia in a long, tall vase where you can see the natural drape of the forsythia. Since dogwood branches are thicker and heavier, I put one interesting-looking branch in a heavy, short vase and lean the branch against a wall for a flower sculpture.
8. In each vase, put only one type of flowering branch (all the forsythia branches in one vase, a dogwood branch in another). It provides a more interesting look, and allows you to easily monitor the progress of your branches.
9. Place the vases with the flowering branches in a warm, preferably sunny spot in your house. Be patient! The forsythia, dogwood, and pear can take close to 3 weeks to “force” or open in the house. Just as you think the branches are dead and should be thrown away, they will burst into bloom!
10. In each of the vases, change the water every 2-3 days, rinse the bottom of the branch in warm water, and re-cut the bottom @ a sharp angle.
11. In the meantime, if you want flowering branches for a dinner party in your home, take open flowers (orchids, roses, hellebore) and place them in the crooks of the branches for a unique flowering branch.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for Eco-Conscious Flower Sourcing!
My unique design aesthetic ~ elegant, contemporary, and minimalist ~ has been enhanced by training at the renowned Judith Blacklock Flower School in Knightsbridge, London. My flower designs have been influenced by the work of artists such as O’Keefe, Miro, and Calder. As an award-winning fine art photographer, I have an eye for line, form and presentation resulting in exquisite flower designs.
~ In July 2009, I was selected as one of twelve semi-finalists for the position of Chief Flower Designer at the White House!
~ In March 2010, I was honored to design THE centerpiece for Rabbi Amy Schwartzman's 20th Anniversary Champagne Dessert Reception at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church.
~ Now, I design the flowers every week for the Friday night & Saturday morning services of this temple with a congregation of 1,500 families, a significant number of them from McLean! I incorporate lovely vases and flowers to make even a traditional triangular design exquisite and gorgeous.
~ In July 2010, I designed THE centerpiece for the Atrium of the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center. The centerpiece, incorporating English crystal vases and purple Vanda orchids, was the focal point of a private reception on the upper level of the Atrium.
~ My flower designs have been donated to silent auctions for Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown and the Great Falls Foundation of the Arts.
~ I have been commissioned to design intriguing flower sculptures for Thanksgiving, holiday, hostess, anniversary, and birthday gifts.
My work can be viewed at:
My hand-tied bouquets and flower designs are non-traditional: elegant, contemporary, and minimalist. I incorporate vases into my designs, resulting in flower sculptures. My technique included creating swirls and loops of curly willow, often on its side, to hold the flowers, I secure my designs with fine-gauge jewelry wire; fine, cellophane tape; and pebbles.
An eco-conscious artist, I use native, indigenous, or local meadow-grown flowers: blue-cloud larkspur, which looks like dancing purple butterflies. Or, I cut branches of dogwood, forsythia and pear from my own garden. When not possible, I select unusual flowers: red gloriosa lilies, purple Vanda orchids, yellow oncidium orchids, and copper cymbidium orchids. All of my flowers are grown in the U.S. (and, if not possible, Canada or Holland), and each stem is hand-selected to ensure a close-to-perfect flower.