As a child, I remember making cards or painting a picture for my mom for Mother’s Day. When I became older and able to buy gifts for my mother I learned she had kept some of the cards and paintings I made for her. In her eyes, they were real treasures and worth keeping. This Mother’s Day, I rekindled the idea of making something for Mom by making her some beautiful flower arrangements.
The art of flower arranging has been a part of many cultures across the world. In ancient China dating back to the Han Dynasty, it was a popular activity. Flowers were also used in medicine and Buddhists taught that each different type of flower or plant has its own inner meaning. The peony was considered to symbolize wealth, good fortune, and high status. Flowers truly enriched the Chinese culture throughout the ages.
Flowers were also enjoyed across Europe, and in Rome in the Byzantine Empire, chalices and urns were decorated with leaves, daisies, lilies, cypress, carnations, and pine. Tiny flowers were used to make garlands using ribbons that intertwined to create a beautiful display. People in European countries also gave their hand to inventing new ways to display flowers. People in Europe also learned the meaning behind certain flowers and plants with the information that traveled from China.
In Europe between A.D. 1714-1769, small handheld bouquets were made that were called nosegays or tussie-mussies, as these small bunches of flowers helped to hide the bad smell from society during a time when they did not bathe regularly due to the belief that submerging the body in water weakened immunity and led to disease.
Over time, royalty came to favor decorating with flowers and set the trend, with people admiring the delicate flower arrangements they owned. People came up with specific designs to display. They matched the handheld bouquets with the wearer’s outfit and even started to wear flowers as part of their outfits.
Mother’s Day a great time to gift flowers
A flower that is worn through a buttonhole or placed four inches below the shoulder on the chest of the wearer’s clothes is called a corsage or boutonniere. They were once so popular that they were frequently worn. Women would also wear them, though they were delicately positioned with a ribbon at the waist or around the wrist. Toda,y these are only worn on special occasions — festivals and ceremonies like weddings or a Promenade dance.
Mother’s Day is one day where flowers are an easy gift, but buying a fresh bouquet can be expensive. There is a way to adapt and buy a few low-cost flowers and spruce them up with a few beautiful leaves from your garden or outdoor area. By making the bouquet yourself, you give Mom or a special person in your life a more meaningful gift filled with love. To make a bouquet or posy, an array of flowers is available to choose from. They can be fresh flowers, dried flowers, or there are even artificial flowers that will fool any sharp eye as they are made to look so much like the real thing.
Today, there is an amazing range of dried flowers and leaves that you can buy. There are new ways of drying plants by using a large round machine known as a freeze dryer. Flowers are prepared and treated before they are put into the freeze dryer. The color in the flowers remains with this technique. This is great for preserving wedding bouquets.
People have also experimented with dyes and other techniques to enhance the foliage and petals to give them a new look or preserve the beauty of the leaf shape, a flower spike, or the flower petals. You can find them online or check out your local shopping district.
Drying flowers is easy to do. You can make your own dried flowers by hanging them up from a rod. I hang mine in the cupboard because I have found the darkness preserves the flower color while hanging them up in the open produces a lighter color. The main idea is to leave flowers where they can dry out. Find the right place based on the space you have available to use. I find that species with little flesh or water in them dry out the best.
Australian native plants provide a good range of flowers suitable for drying. The paper-like petals from the pink and yellow Everlastings or the Perezii Blue, Billy Buttons, Protea plants, Kangaroo Paw species, or Banksias are great to use. There are also many herbs such as lavender, Amaranth, chives, rosemary, and Liatris, also known as Blazing Star. Grass plants with their seed head create an interesting look. You can use wheat or, as pictured, the dyed Bunny Tail. Hydrangeas, roses, peonies, and daisy flowers retain their charm in a dried flower posy. Take a look in your own garden before venturing into the shops and you might be surprised with what is in your own garden that you can dry out to preserve.
Dried flowers are fun to use when first learning how to do a floral design. Dried flowers always keep their appearance and you can take the bouquet apart again and again until you are happy with it.
Choose an odd number of flowers from each species. Pick out colors and shapes that blend well for your bouquet design. Cut paper to a square to suit the length and size of the bouquet you would like. Place the tallest stems down first and arrange the flowers in a fan shape. If you prefer, you can hold the flowers in your hand. This is another way to make an evenly balanced design. Layer the flowers into a pattern you find attractive.
Once the flowers are laid out on your square or held in your hand the way you prefer, you wrap the square paper around the flowers by bringing in the two corners. Place a ribbon underneath and tie a bow. Pick your arrangement up and cut off any long stems. Also, for any flowers not sitting nicely, now is the time to adjust the display. I moved a couple of Bunny Tails a bit so they could be seen and repositioned one to the front for an even show throughout the bouquet.
Fresh flowers are always admired and enjoyed when a lovely bouquet is swept up before your eyes, creating an unforgettable smile for the person who gives the flowers. If you have a garden or outside area, before rushing off to buy fresh flowers, see what flowers and leaves you can use from your garden.
Look for brilliant shapes and colors in the trees or bushes in your surroundings. Find leaves that are attached to stems that are not too thick and fine enough to cut with pruning shears or strong scissors. Cut a long straight stem with mostly nice leaves and place it into water. If you use flowers, make sure to cut the stem as long as you can. Don’t cut stems from old blooms. Look for flowers that are about to open or have recently opened for a longer-lasting display.
The green and yellow spots on the leaves of Aucuba Japonica captured my eyes. I felt the yellow centers of the pink Chrysanthemums would blend with the spotted patterns on the leaves. I had bought a small bunch of Baby’s Breath for ten dollars and I put a few stems with the arrangement to give it some softness. There is a rule, “less is best” and I remember this when I arrange flowers.
The pink raffia for binding everything together and Baby’s Breath are all I bought. The green floral paper I already had because whenever I receive flowers, I always keep the pretty paper wrapping for my reuse to make a bouquet as a gift. Alternatively, any pretty paper-like material will look lovely around the flowers. Today the range of floral paper to wrap flowers in is amazing. You can choose from tissue or crepe paper that is plain or patterned, handmade paper, plain or patterned brown paper, colored rice paper, or an assortment of cellophane or plastic.
Chrysanthemums are exotic and they are a favorite flower to give on Mothers Day, with an abundance of varieties having different colors and flower shapes that range in size from being like a daisy or in a large and fuller round form. The leaves of the Chrysanthemum are all attached alternately to a stem that is divided into a plain edged or a tooth edged leaflet.
When buying the alluring big flower variety of Chrysanthemums, the petals that are open are fragile and will fall off when you put your flowers into a bouquet. It is better to choose blooms with petals that are still a little bit closed, as they are stronger and easier to handle. There are many ways to wrap flowers, and when I bring the two corners together, I leave the stems open for the bouquet to be put into a vase with a small amount of water leaving the pretty paper adorning the flowers. Remember to change the water in a vase of flowers regularly for flowers to stay clean and fresh for longer.
A posy to hold
The term “posy” is applied to a handheld bouquet that usually is small and given as a gift these days. Not many flowers are needed, and a posy is wrapped with a nice ribbon, not paper. It is a delicate arrangement. I enjoy the pink geraniums and their bright color I saw that they would highlight the white flowers. The deep green leaves give some depth to the design and the flowers of the Privet Ligustrum and the Iceberg rose give this posy a slight fragrance. The time that it took to make the posy was only about 10 minutes and the Privet Ligustrum, Geranium, and the Iceberg rose are from my yard. These plants are hardy enough that they can be grown in most gardens. Find the hidden beauty outside at home. Take a snippet of leaves from the tree and be creative.
A corsage to wear
The white Azaela has a small stem and the frilly flower took my favor. I matched it with the Privet Ligustrum flower and it’s deep green leaves. The red geranium I snapped up for a brilliant theme of color to show up the white flowers. I held tight the base of the stem of the Azalea and wrapped a small rubber band around the three stems. Once secured, a small piece of damp tissue is wrapped around the base of the stems. Find some ribbon to blend in with the flowers and wrap it around the stems to hide both the tissue and stems. This took only a few minutes to make and when finished I placed it in the fridge to keep the flowers fresh and ready to wear for the next day or for Mother’s Day.
Flowers keep for longer in the fridge but they all have their time when they start to weep and lose their luster. It is best to make a wearable corsage the day before you give it as a gift or wear for yourself.
Enjoy giving Mom flowers on Mother’s Day!