I was crushed when I learned that I couldn't grow peonies in my northern Florida garden. But I love them, and so now that they're in season (elsewhere in the country), I have no regrets about buying them every week or so. However, my garden is starting to brim over with the flowers I can grow, and I enjoy the satisfaction of a home-grown (and free!) bouquet as well. Here's how I dress up my yard-picked blooms.
Add some greens.
When you're cutting your flowers, look around for some greens that complement your blooms. Sometimes leaves from the same plant work well, but I usually like to mix it up with branches from another plant. Think shrubs or even certain tree branches. For a recent peony arrangement for my kitchen tabletop, I snipped some branches from our boxwoods. The small leaves and the bright, vibrant green were a beautiful counterpoint to the peonies' showiness.
Strip the stems.
Stripping the stems of your flowers almost all the way, or at least so that nothing but stem is sitting below the water line makes your bouquet sleek, manageable, and professional-looking, and helps your flowers last longer. Leaves sitting below the water line not only look messy, but promote bacteria growth that will make your arrangement wilt much sooner than necessary.
Pay attention to height.
A good rule of thumb is to cut the total length of each stem (including the flower) to be twice as tall as the vase. I usually don't worry about cutting stems until after I arrange my bouquet (see next step).
Hold with one hand, add with the other — outside of the vase. When it comes time to arrange my flowers, I often use a technique similar to these suggestions from pro florists for making a shapely yet natural-looking bouquet with an organic flow. Basically, you hold the stems in your hand and rotate the bunch as you add flowers and greens. Many times, it's tempting to just stick the flowers in the vase and try to fix it up from there, but arranging beforehand, outside the vase, makes a huge difference in creating an arrangement that's pleasing from all angles.
Or use the tape trick. Sometimes I use the technique described in Make Your Flower Arrangements 10x Better With This One DIY Trick. I can attest that the bold claim of the title is true.
Be simple. Just like a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, so a flower needs little "treatment" to be beautiful. You don't have to kick your bouquets up a notch; a few stems placed in a jar can be just as delightful.