To make a stunning hand-tied French bouquet, you will need:
3-6 stems each of 5 different flowers, cut a minimum of 12 inches long
3 stems of foliage or green leaves, cut a minimum of 12 inches long
Waxed florist twine
2 14-inch squares of green florist’s cellophane, optional
4-foot length of ribbon, optional
Narrow spout watering can, optional
- When selecting flowers from your garden, choose single flowers with longer stems or flowers that cluster at the top of the stem. Choose one larger flower (Rose, Dahlia, Gerbera Daisy, Tulip) to use as your focal flower and build your color palette around. In addition to your focal flower, you should select 1 to 2 medium-size flowers (Leucanthemum, Ranunculous, Oenothera, Calla Lily), and 2 to 3 smaller flowers or flowers that grow in clusters (Celosia, Stokesia, Coreopsis, Phlox). If you want to include foliage in your bouquet, it must have a defined stem. Twigs of shrubbery such as Hydrangea and Lilac work well in French bouquets. Cut all stems at least 12 inches long. At this point, stems do not need to be the same length; you will be trimming them again after constructing the bouquet.
- French bouquets feature a compact, rounded mound of flowers on top of spiraling stems. A unique feature of these bouquets, the spiraled stems create a stable base that allows the bouquet to stand on its own when placed on a table. Do not become discouraged if it takes you more than one try to spiral the stems correctly. Simply disassemble the bouquet and start over. Make sure you hold the stems tightly together as you work.
- Trim all flower stems at an angle and remove the leaves. On foliage stems, retain leaves on the top 4 to 6 inches of the stem and remove the rest. Place all stems in a vase of water for one hour to hydrate.
- Remove the flowers from the vase and sort into piles by flower type.
- Loosen the end of the florist’s twine but do not cut. You will be using a continuous length of twine to secure the stems as you build the bouquet, wrapping a circle of twine around each new group of flowers as you add them. The waxed twine will help keep flower stems from slipping as you add to the bouquet.
- Holding the largest focal flower in your left hand (right hand if you’re a leftie), encircle it with 3 foliage stems. The tips of the foliage should protrude slightly higher than the flower. Hold the stems securely about 6 inches below the base of the flower head.
- Pick up the end of the waxed twine; and using your thumb to hold the end in place, circle the group of flowers three times, pulling the twine tight but taking care not to cut into the stems. Do not cut the twine.
- Using your thumb to keep the twine from slipping, begin adding stems to the bouquet. Add 3 to 4 flower stems at a time, slanting the stem ends toward your body at a 45-degree angle. Check the top of the bouquet with each addition for color and flower balance. Avoid placing two of the same flower next to each other. Reposition stems as necessary. Secure each new addition with two circles of twine.
- Give the bouquet a quarter turn clockwise after each addition and continue adding flowers as in step 8 above. After you have completed one circuit of the bouquet (every fourth turn), you should be able to see the stems beginning to spiral. Position the next circle of flowers slightly lower to create the domed shape of the finished bouquet.
- Repeat steps 8 and 9 until the bouquet is full and you are pleased with its appearance.
- Wrap a length of waxed florist twine 4 to 6 times around the bouquet immediately above the hand holding the flowers. Tie the ends firmly in a knot to secure the stems.
- Trim all stem ends straight across. The spiraled stems should hold your bouquet upright when you place it on a table.
- Stand the bouquet in a bowl of cool water until you are ready to present or display it. Display the bouquet in a shallow vase or bowl.
- If you are presenting the bouquet as a gift, cut two 14-inch squares of florist cellophane. Place the squares on top of each other, rotating the top square a quarter turn.
- Place the stem end of the bouquet in the center of the cellophane. Bringing together each set of diagonal edges, gather the cellophane around the stems of the bouquet. Secure with waxed florist’s twine, wrapping the twine twice around the stems and knotting. Wrap the ribbon around the bouquet twice to hide the twine, knot and tie in a shoestring bow with trailing ends. Trim the ends of the ribbon at a 45-degree angle.
- Carefully insert the spout of the watering can between the stems and dribble 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water into the gathered cellophane, forming an instant vase that will keep the bouquet fresh until the recipient can place it in water.
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Image: Flower Factor