Festoon your friends: Flowers by women, for women
Valentine’s Day conjures so many emotions in women, doesn’t it? It seems that every February, a thousand emotions stir inside me, and like a human stack of Russian nesting dolls, I see myself at a dozen different ages feeling some combination of those emotions. Now that I’m married with two, nearly three, children of my own, I’m happy to say that days of Valentine anxiety are overshadowed by my kind husband who (almost) always remembers to send flowers. However, I stopped buying flowers for him long ago.
Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge seconds my notion. “Give the flowers to your gal pals,” she says with a light-hearted laugh. “Men don’t appreciate the nuance of flower arranging.”
So put aside all the expectations from men this year, ladies, and show some love-day appreciation for your girls. And while you’re at it, forget the huge price tag. Flower-arranging doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. In fact, it’s the often overlooked and inexpensive flowers, like carnations, that not only last the longest, but come in the most vibrant colors. Try these adorable ideas from Grace.
“Right now, I’m completely obsessed with ombre, that soft fading from one color to another,” she says. It’s really easy to do an ombre arrangement with flowers because blooms are usually grouped together by color in the grocery store where you can find some of the best deals. “This is a great way to use those cheaper flowers,” says Grace.
Start with a deep crimson red and buy stems that vary in color through the red palette into the palest pink. Then, hold all the blooms in your left hand, forming a loose ring with your fingers. Arrange the flowers from deep red on the left to light pink on the right. “When you arrange this way by hand,” Grace says, “it’s so easy to pick out a flower and replace it — much easier than arranging in a vase.” Once you get the blooms the way you want them, cut all the stems to the same length with your right hand and tie the bundle with butcher’s twine. Wrap the stems with a lovely satin ribbon and voila! A beautiful hand-tied bouquet.
Grace says she always hand-arranges flowers and ties them together before putting them in a vase. “Or, you can follow a Victorian tradition and skip the vase all together,” she explains. Roll a piece of paper into a cone, drop your bouquet inside, attach a sweet note, and hang it on your friend’s door! Grace suggests decorating the paper beforehand using stamps and scalloping the edges with pinking shears or fancy scissors you can find at craft supply stores.
But vases and cones and bouquets aren’t the only way to deliver flowers. Grace recommends using an inexpensive heart-shaped box of chocolates as a cheeky presentation for small succulents or air plants. “Dump the chocolate,” she says, “or eat it yourself! Then place a small plant or flower in each of the little round plastic molds inside the box. Succulents are really inexpensive — as cheap as $1 each — and can be replanted.”
Take my advice. This Valentine’s day, give your man something practical — like a wallet or a steak — and leave the lovely, crafty, whimsical flower arrangements for the people who will really appreciate them: your girlfriends.
If you harbor a secret regret that you didn’t go to design school, then you’re probably just as addicted to Design*Sponge as I am. Grace Bonney’s new book, Design*Sponge at Home is available in bookstores now.
February is American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness for the leading cause of death in American women: heart disease. And perhaps no one will be sporting her red more proudly than 20-year-old Nashvillian Nykia Babb.
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