PlantTherapy: How To Put a Twist into Tulips

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arrangement by Michael George, on the cover of The Art of Floral Arrangement

Trying out what the florists do is always a good way to learn to appreciate their hard-earned skills. I have no arranging skills to speak of, but I tried out this technique last week, illustrated in the photo above, of putting a twist on tulip stems...

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I bought 30 stems (less than half of what was used by George in the top photo), which cost about $25 at the farmer's market. The first step is to strip off the bottom two leaves on each stem.

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Next, stack the blossoms so that the blossom tops are all in line with each other and then gather the whole bundle up with two rubber bands. Make sure the rubber bands are not so tight. Then cut the stem bottoms so that they are flat. Also, make sure the stems are not tangled up, but lying parallel to each other.

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The stems then need to be gently twisted in opposite directions. George's arrangement has clear rubber bands, but I only had the red bands that came with the flowers.
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Depending on the vessel and the number of flowers, you may need to fuss a bit with the stems to get the entire arrangement to be stable. George's example also has a vase with a lip at the perfect height to the stems as they bend.

Just for fun, I used one of our shallow cereal bowls as a vase - and the stem bottoms were kept in check by the edge of the bowl.

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This was my first attempt. It is a fairly simple technique, but it is important to be careful with each step. Cleaning off the two bottom leaves from all 30 stems was the most time-consuming step. I have no doubt it looks better with experience and I could easily see using this on other flowers, or without the rubber bands, just to neaten them up when putting them in a tall vase.

Michael George arranged the cover flowers for The Art of Floral Arranging. He is well known for his elegant monochromatic arrangements. The small book is more of an introduction to a select group of NY florists than a book full of floral design ideas. Each NY-based floral artist introduced demonstrates an arrangement they are known for; this was George's.

matt at apartment therapy dot com

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