Put A Little Bloom in Your Room

Barbara James works on a bouquet for a funeral Friday morning at

Make the most of your flower arrangements by paying attention to
color, detail and personal tastes, local florists say
When it comes to men sending women flowers, there’s a distinct trend.

“First, they’re dating and he sends her flowers, then we do the wedding flowers, and he never sends her flowers again,” said Barbara James, a flower designer at San Benito Street Flowers in Hollister.

Until he gets in trouble.

“Right, then she gets a big bouquet with a card we have about being in the doghouse,” James said, laughing.

Resourceful flower-lovers will make their own arrangements while waiting for him to screw up or miraculously develop a romantic streak.

For amateur senders and arrangers, picking the right flowers and colors can be intimidating, but keep in mind one very important thing:

“Everyone loves fresh flowers,” said Maggie Mendoza, who has worked at the Flower Cottage of Morgan Hill for two years and has been in the floral industry for about 12 years. “You can’t go wrong with fresh flowers.”

To make things simpler, forget the old-fashioned “language of flowers” mumbo jumbo and follow some easier guidelines, said James.

“Pick what you like, or think of the person you’re sending flowers’ favorite color,” she said. “Don’t worry about ‘what does this color mean?’ Worry about what you think looks good. If you’re sending someone flowers, of course you like them. What kind of flowers you send doesn’t say that – just sending them does.”

Choosing flowers ultimately comes down to personal taste, said David Ingersoll, a flower Designer at San Benito Street Flowers.

“What’s beautiful to one person is plain ugly to another person,” he said. “There are no rules when it comes to arranging flowers. The best advice is to pay attention to different textures and shapes to make it interesting.”

Arrangements can be all one color or focus on several colors as long as the flowers compliment each other, Ingersoll explained. For example, most roses come with baby’s breath because the round, uneven surface of the small white flowers provides a good foil for the elongated, smooth shape of the roses.

“If you’re giving flowers to someone else, work with the person’s favorite colors or pick their favorite flowers,” Ingersoll said. “If you’re giving flowers to a man, they don’t want pinks or lavenders, so try white, yellow or blues.”

When creating a fresh or silk arrangement for a particular room, match the flower colors to the room, Mendoza said.

“Match the flowers to the couch, or a color on the wall, and mix in colors that go with accents like the throw pillows,” she said. “But if the couch is a deep red, then pick bright red flowers so the arrangement doesn’t get lost in the room.”

For arrangements with multiple layers, Mendoza recommends using long “stick-shaped” flowers for the top layers, such as roses, larkspur and gladiolas. For the middle and bottom layers, medium-length tulips, Gerber daisies, lilies and a few roses with the stems cut short are best.

Give your arrangement more flair by putting it in an unusually shaped or colored vase, she added.

Whether you’re making an arrangement for your own home or to give to someone else, flowers from a florist will last longer than flowers from a grocery store, Mendoza said.

“Florists will buy as many of their flowers as possible locally,” she said. “Grocery stores buy all their flowers from other countries, which is why they’re so cheap. But, their flowers are weeks old and our flowers are days old. We get in our van, drive out to the growers and pick (our flowers) up.”

The exception to the rule is tropical flowers, which are flown in from other climates but typically last longer than most flowers, Ingersoll said.

Florists say there’s an arrangement for every budget, but buying flowers wholesale and putting them together on your own can save you money… if you’re willing to do some dirty work.

A grower’s bunch of 25 roses costs $2.25 per stem, said Polly Sirles of Frank’s Garden Florist in Gilroy. The roses will have all their thorns and leaves still attached, so you’ll have to “de-ouch” the flowers yourself. Buying the same bunch with the leaves thinned and thorns removed will cost about $4 a stem. Buying them done up with baby’s breath, nice wrapping and greenery will cost $5.50 a stem.

And if putting together an arrangement for your home or to give to someone else seems too daunting for you, go to a professional.

“We have practice getting inside people’s heads and figuring out exactly what they want,” James said. “We have books to show people so they can pick what shape arrangement they want or what flowers they like. Sometimes people just describe the people the flowers are for and tell us to get creative. Those are the best.”

Anytime you have fresh flowers in your home, cut the bottom of the stems before putting them in water and make sure they have fresh water every day, James said. This will help them stay beautiful longer.

If Flowers Could Talk

When choosing flowers for an arrangement, most people go with what looks best. But, if you want to assign deeper meaning to your bouquet, pick flowers according to what they represent.

Apple Blossom: better things to come

Baby’s Breath: pure heart

Camellia: gratitude

Carnation: fascination and love

Chrysanthemum (white): truth

Daffodil: regard, joy

Daisy: innocence

Forget-Me-Not: true love, remembrance

Gardenia: joy

Hyacinth: loveliness

Hydrangea: boastfulness

Iris: warmth of affection

Ivy: eternal fidelity

Jasmine: amiability

Lemon blossom: fidelity in love

Lilac (white): youthful innocence

Lily: majesty

Lily-of-the-valley: return of happiness

Magnolia: perseverance, nobility

Mimosa: sensitivity

Orange blossom: purity, virginity

Orchid: ecstasy, nobility

Rosemary: remembrance

Tulip: love

Violet: faithfulness

Wheat: riches, friendliness

Wisteria: ‘I cling to thee’

Source: wedding Web site www.links2love.com

Bouquets for every occasion

Sending someone flowers for different occasions can be intimidating, but talking it over with a flower professional can help.

“This is what we do,” said Barbara James, a flower designer at San Benito Street Flowers in Hollister. “We like to figure out just the right thing to send.”

A florist will start with how much you want to spend and build a bouquet from there.

Baptisms: White is the standard color.

New birth/pregnancy announcement: Choose pink or blue, depending on the gender, though some people will do a combination of pink, blue and yellow if the sex of the baby is a secret.

Funerals: Plants are often popular because they live long past the services and are often seen as a kind of memorial. While there is no such thing as a “typical” funeral arrangement, some people select bright flowers as a cheerful foil to the solemn occasion.

Dating: The key is not to overwhelm the recipient by choosing an extravagant bouquet too early in the relationship. Try a bud vase with just a few roses, Gerber daisies, which are trendy, or a simple seasonal bouquet.

Sources: David Ingersoll, Barbara James, Maggie Mendoza

Roses are Red …

Beware when trying to communicate something in the language of flowers. You may think you’re wishing a special someone ‘happy birthday’ with pink roses, but they think you’re offering them sympathy. Maybe you want to offer someone friendship with yellow roses, but they think you’re jealous.

To play it safe, Mendoza recommends the two-tone roses, such as the yellow ones with red tips or white with red tips. They haven’t been assigned a “meaning” yet.

Take a look at all the different things various colored roses supposedly mean:

White: love, purity, innocence, secrecy and ‘I am worthy of you’ or pure love or heavenly, silence.

Pink: admiration, sympathy, grace, gentility, joy, friendship, gratitude, appreciation or happiness, happy birthday.

Red: love, respect, courage and ‘I love you’ or love or passion.

Yellow: joy, gladness, friendship or friendship, respect, ‘missing you’ or jealousy, zeal.

Lavender: love at first sight, enchantment, uniqueness or faithfulness, passion, hope.

Peach or coral: enthusiasm, desire, sweetness, modesty, joy.

Another way to play it safe is to choose flowers according to what month it is, Sirles said. Just like every month has a birthstone associated with it, every month also has a flower.

January: carnation

February: violet

March: jonquil

April: sweetpeas

May: lily-of-the-valley

June: rose

July: larkspur

August: gladiola

September: asters

October: calendula

November: chrysanthemum

December: narcissus

Sources: www.bloom4ever.com, www.2dozenroses.com, www.flowerparade.ca

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