What to do about flowers?

Holly- KayOctober 7, 2013

I love flowers and the beauty they add to a room but I dread trying to arrange fresh flowers in a vase. So much so that I told DH to not ever buy me fresh flowers unless they are already arranged. I am not good at all with doing arrangements and my flowers turn out looking frumpy because I lack the design element gene critical to flower arranging.

I have a beautiful, old silver chocolate pot filled with dried hydrangeas on my breakfast table and a silver teapot with dried hydrangeas in the living room but they need replaced. I did both of those arrangements and neither look great. I sure hope this hard rain doesn't destroy the flowers that are still on our hydrangea bushes as I need to replace the old ones.

Are there silk flowers that are beautiful or do they all look sad and fake? If I go with fresh flowers I have to have a floral delivery every week and that gets not only expensive but isn't practical as I still go into my business every day and DH is not always available to accept deliveries.

What do the rest of you do? I can't imagine that I am alone in wanting the beauty of flowers but not having the technique to make fresh flowers look great.

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I know there are those who eschew the use of artificial flowers at all costs, but I am not one. I think clean, dust-free, life-like arrangements used sparingly can be attractive and add color to my house. I like NDI.com for non-custom arrangements. They are often available at a discount on flash sales sites like OneKingsLane.

For custom, I have a local gift store that will order quality stems and make arrangements for the cost of materials plus a $75 dollar fee.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 11:48AM
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I don't like floral arrangements per se. I find them old fashioned. I like one kind of flower, all cut the same length, in a very generous abundance.

I tend to get them if we have company, or on a weekend. They don't need to be "arranged". I have a local florist I like, but high end grocers, or a Whole Foods, often have lovely roses. Just grab a bunch and go!

I don't care for slik flowers, but silk plants can be practical in places where you want the look and don't have the sun. Esp topiaries.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 11:58AM
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Holly- Kay

Thanks for the info Fun. I would love to have fresh flowers weekly but I just can't be at home all the time to take delivery and I am not good enough at flower design to buy fresh and arrange myself so I wondered what others did.

The flower arrangements that are silk and in the local furniture store that I browse are through the roof expensive for the quality of the arrangements. They look very realistic from a distance but fall flat when viewed close up.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 12:01PM
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One thing that makes it easier is to buy bunches of flowers that are all the same. Nothing looks better than a vase or pitcher full of just tulips or daffodils, no arranging necessary. In the winter, I buy bunches of alstroemeria, inexpensive, available at grocery stores, and last forever. The only thing I do with them is cut the long stems so they bunch better in the vase. You can cut in stages until you hit the ideal length for your vase and increase your confidence.

I sometimes cut greens from the garden to go with (the dark red ones look great with greens at Christmas). Not much arranging for that either. I just make a big bouquet of greens and stick the red ones here and there. Looks great!

Here is a link that might be useful: Alstroemeria arrangements.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Holly- Kay

Thank you Mtn. I just dislike getting fresh flowers and having to deal with getting them ready for a vase. Wow, I sound like a real lazy butt don't I? I am just too busy to have to deal with all of that nonsense when I get home. I do love a big group of one type of flower but hate the work getting it from a shop to a vase.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 12:10PM
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Holly- Kay

Oly, absolutely gorgeous! I have my eye on a beautiful Match Pewter piece that would look awesome with a huge bunch of Alstroemeria or roses but I hate dealing with roses even though I adore them! So as soon as the rain stops I will cart myself to Sam's club for a trial run!

Please keep the ideas coming!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 12:17PM
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I, too, am lazy when it comes to flowers. Drives me crazy to have a nice arrangement and then have to go pick out the individual dying or dead flowers but try to keep the ones that still look good, blah blah. What I do "in season," when we have flowers growing in our own yard, is just occasionally go out and cut a few. I have a little handmade pottery cup sitting on the kitchen island and I put maybe 3 flowers in it. There, that's my floral arrangement. Sometimes I put a few more in a small glass pitcher in the bathroom. That's it. We have zinnias that are still putting on a great show, so I've been cutting lots of them because I know they'll be gone soon!

In the off season, occasionally I'll buy a bunch of tulips or something at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, when the mood strikes me. Otherwise, I prefer having houseplants scattered around the house in nice plant pots.

Whenever DH sends me flowers for an occasion, which are usually way over the top because he's a nice generous guy, I try to tell him I'd be just as happy (more so, really) if he just stopped on the way home and bought a bunch of tulips for $7.99!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 12:22PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I'll be the old fuddy duddy in the bunch. I just made a silk arrangement for my credenza that picks up on the colors in the room...I added some dried eucalyptus and I really like it. I also enjoy arranging them, much more than fresh flowers as you can bend them and get them to do just what you want. And I don't have to feed and water like I do with all my live plants. I don't expect it to look real, but I don't want it to look over fake too. I like it looking like just what it is...a pretty arrangement to bring color and softness to a space.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 12:32PM
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If you like color and the feeling of nature you get from flowers, why not do it with fruit? Apples and pears come in lovely shades, or citrus for spring and summer. I have bought granny smiths just for show. They look great in a big sterling silver bowl with just a bit of patina ...They are a lot cheaper than flowers. If I feel guilty I might make applesauce with them ...

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 12:35PM
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Holly- Kay

Annie, you are NOT an old fuddy duddy. I just adore flowers and I wouldn't mind silk at all as long as they are pretty up close as well as from a distance.

I do love to see a group of white roses in a beautifully patinaed pitcher or a crystal vase. I am not into big and ornate, rather small and charming.

I love my dried hydrangeas also but I wish I was more deft at making them look good!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 1:56PM
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Holly- Kay

Mtn. I do use fresh fruit as an accent in my kitchen. Pretty and also delicious!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 1:58PM
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While IMO there is nothing like the look of fresh flowers I really dislike the work involved with them and hate to see them fade and die. I also have the problem of cats who like to nibble real, faux, or dried flowers so need to be careful where I put them.

Fortunately there are a few alternatives:

~ real orchids are relatively low fuss and bother and good quality faux orchids even less. A good plant for the bathroom.

~ real potted plants are fairly easy if one can remember to water regularly. I use these more now that I have no indoor plants but consider them disposable as soon as they need more work than watering twice weekly. Considering the cost and longevity they compare more than favorably with cut arrangements. I plan to buy a potted mum at Costco soon for my fall decor.

~really good quality faux plants or prearranged faux flowers can look quite real or at least nicely decorative. I have often rinsed them off with water (spray in laundry sink or bathtub) when they need dusting. Done carefully it does not harm them. All the ones I haven't yet given away are decorating the inside of closets at the moment! :D

An easy way to arrange real flowers is to buy all one type, cut them all the same length, put an elastic band around the stems, and plunk them in a vase. Sounds simple and looked good in the pic with the instructions altho I haven't done it.

Costco apparently has the best roses at a great price according to knowledgeable friends. I've only looked at them but they have a lot of different colors.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 2:11PM
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I think the reasons stated above about fresh flowers being laborious are exactly why they seem so decadent and beautiful.

The fulfillment my soul gets from just one fresh flower in a bud vase is worth more than the most beautiful silk flower arrangement to me. But, this is just my opinion for my own home. I enjoy other people's flower arrangements in their homes, silk or fresh.

I am home during the day, so I spend a lot of time enjoying fresh flowers. I also like the look of one type of flower in an arrangement.

Here are some easier ideas for "fresh flowers":

fresh curly willow

forcing branches in the spring

cuttings of evergreens from the garden

Ivy cuttings

boxwood cuttings (or preserved boxwood)


orchid plants (the flowers last forever in a dark, cool room. I have three plants from Trader Joe's bought two months ago and they are still going strong and looking beautiful)

Also, look into preserved flowers. They are real blooms that have been treated to preserve them. They are not cheap, but they are gorgeous.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 2:36PM
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LOL Fuddy duddy ! I'm one too ...I love faux florals and there are some that are very realistic you have to touch them to see if they are real or not...they are expensive tho but once you make the investment you don't have to worry about them dying. Hydrangeas are some of my favorites.
Find some that make you happy in colors you love.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 2:46PM
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Buying something so perishable for transient beauty is hard for me. So florist and store brought flowers is only when DH or DD gift me something for a special occasion.
I like the look of casual fresh flowers and usually have cut flowers from the garden in small bud vases around the house. Summers will have Cosmos, zinnia and spring will have daffodils, tulips, roses.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 3:38PM
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The only flowers I have in my home at the moment are hydrangeas but then again I have 30 plus bushes of them outside as well. If you have a freind thats handy with that sort of thing offer her lunch to arrange your dried hygrangeas for you. If not you could probly get a local florest to do it in your container for a small fee. I keep my died hydrangeas for at least two years before the color fades enough for me to replace so it would be cost effective to have them done for you.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 3:40PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

My "dogwood" branches in my guest bath

My wreath in the kitchen which I made to coordinate with my backsplash art.

Dried flower arrangement in master suite area.

I know that for those of you who hate "everlasting" flowers, this is hard to believe, but I like them for what they are. I don't want them over done, I don't want them plastic, but I like them and I like the effect they have. To me, they are like art only out of a different material...an easy, affordable and accessible alternative to framed art or sculpture. They bring in color, texture, shape and sometimes fragrances. I enjoy designing an arrangement and I enjoy arranging them and I enjoy looking at them afterward.

I know I won't convince anyone who doesn't like them, anymore than someone can convince me to like something I don't, but there it is.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 3:55PM
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Holly- Kay

Annie, I love all of your beautiful arrangements. They bring color and beauty to their surrounding space. I hope I can find some lovely arrangements because I think they just make a home look so much more inviting.

Madeyna, I love hydrangeas, they are among my favorite. That is a great idea to have a friend do it for me. One DF works in a shop that arranges flowers so maybe she can do it for me.

LoLo, I know what you mean about the transient beauty of them but oh how I love the look of flowers.

Georgia, I do think that I would be happy with a pretty silk arrangement. I just love Annie's examples.

Rosy, thank you for suggesting preserved flowers. I didn't know there was such a thing available. I am going to be researching this.

Lucky, our Tommy loves to drag a hydrangea out of my containers. The newer ones I can rescue but my older ones are so dried out that I have to toss them when he gets one.

Sueb, I love tulips but darn I just don't want to have to mix that darn solution up and pop them into a vase. We have a young lady who has been doing my special occasion flowers for several years. I like her arrangements as they are so simple and charming.

Thank you all for your thoughts!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 4:19PM
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Okay, I admit I am feeling a tad exasperated. Too much trouble to bring flowers home from a shop? Come on, girl-get some stargazers or tulips from a grocery store, trim the stems, and plop them in a vase. They will look beautiful and the lilies will smell heavenly. Get an ikebana tray or dish with a kenzan (flower frog) and stick a couple of stems in it! Easy peasy. My DH brings me flowers every week. The stargazers can last two weeks. The tulips a bit less. Iris only last a couple of days. Alstroemerias last a long time, too, but those tiny petals are a pain once they begin to drop, so I prefer the larger stargazers or white lilies (as they open pinch out the stigma and anthers and use a dry paper towel to remove any pollen from your fingers). Sometimes, when they last a while or DH gets carried away, our house has fresh flowers in almost every room!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 7:00PM
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Holly- Kay

Cyn, I know I am exasperating. As I said, I sound like a lazy butt. In my defense though I work forty plus hours a week at my business, I manage our property llc and two holding companies. I do have a good bit on my plate but I figure if I have the time to whine about not having the time to arrange flowers that I actually just need to stop whining and start doing.

I don't have help at the shop tomorrow but Wednesday morning I am going to Sam's Club and looking for alstroemerias or tulips.

When using a flower frog do you cut all the stems the same length, and do you need to purchase flowers with sturdy stems?

Thanks for the kick to get me started Cyn. I appreciate you taking the time to post!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 8:08PM
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Alstroemeria have stiff stems - no frog necessary. They also come with leaves, so it looks as if you've "arranged" them. Use flower fresh (it's often included or available in a grocery store bouquet) in the water. Cut the stems before putting in water (to allow them to drink) and pull off any leaves that will be underwater. I change the water maybe once a week with them and they have lasted 3 weeks for me. If you have a larger vase, buy 2 or 3 bunches (depending on how many stems there are). Trader Joe's Alstroemeria seem a little skimpy compared to the supermarket, but they are only $3.99 a bunch so you can get 3 for a really plush bouquet.

You can do this!!! Post your results and we can help.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 8:50PM
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Yippee for you, holly-kay! Wasn't really getting after you, you know. For my ikebana, I do need sturdy stems. Some lilies work, but some are too floppy. I never know until I get them home. I usually stick three in the frog pins at varying heights with one sort of low and the other two higher but not exactly the same height. Branches work well too as do hosta leaves (which also look great in a vase, btw). For vases, my favorite type flares out at the top from a slightly more narrow neck. I really do tend to plop the stems in and somehow they work. Even just three to five stems in a vase look nice. I also have a cylindrical faceted glass vase that I put three stems in and it looks lovely (that one goes in the hall bathroom).

I do understand about being tired. I have to admit that every now and then, I wish I weren't standing at the sink cutting stems and trimming off lower leaves after ten hours at school! However, once I finish, I always enjoy seeing and smelling the flowers in the house. A gracious life helps keep me centered. If by any chance you live in the northern Va. area, I volunteer to come plop some lilies in water for you! Seriously! :)

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 8:55PM
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Holly- Kay

Thanks for the encouragement Oly. GW has been such a godsend for me. I am branching out and trying things that I never would have. Hopefully I will have pics to post on Wednesday.

Cyn, that is a sweet offer and if I lived in N VA I would love to take you up on it. My DM lived in Arlington for many years before she and my step dad retired to Asheville. We always loved to visit them and shop at Tyson's Corner, go to a flea market in Falls Church, and shopping at Dockside in Alexandria. I really am grateful for the encouragement!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 9:23PM
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Tulips are very out of season now, so if you do happen to find them, they're not going to last too long. Fall flowers are your best bet for this time of the year-mums, asters, even some daisies. Roses seem available year round any more.

I just go to Costco and buy a florist bunch, trim the ends and pop it into a vase. A nice mix of flowers that I don't have to arrange.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 9:39PM
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Good question Holly-Kay! Here's my favorite trick for arranging flowers: arrange them upside down, with the heads against the countertop. This way, the blooms will all be at the same length, then just cut the stems to the same height or at the 'same spot', and then flip them right side up.

Not for me, anything artificial! My first mother-in-law was actually arrested for let's just call it, disposing of her neighbor's plastic flowers . It was quite the scandal and I do not mean anyone, but we were all terribly proud!!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 10:09PM
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Holly- Kay

Lol OB, yor DMIL had a touch of the mischief maker in her, huh?

Putting the flower heads on the counter and cutting that way is a great suggestion! I will have to try that.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 10:41PM
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Another option besides "silk" (are they really genuine silk?) flowers are paper flowers. The Etsy site has some gorgeous handmade paper flowers that loo so real. Not cheap though.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 10:50PM
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I'm afraid most silk flowers these days are polyester; I could be wrong but I think "silk" has become the generic term for fake - maybe there are real silk out there somewhere, but I don't think you're going to find them at Michael's.

If I couldn't have real for some reason, I'd at least do a dried arrangement. There are so many gorgeous dried flowers, grasses, cones, pods, cattails, etc. and other (formerly) living things that look terrific in the Autumn, especially.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 12:14AM
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I'm with Annie, we don't stay in one place too long so, in my sun porch, I have an antique white porcelain jug with silk hydrangeas and everyone thinks they're real. I don't really care what people think, I like the look of it on my little chest that I painted aqua with it's white marble top. Sure I buy bouquets at Trader Joe's but I can still love my fake ones. They add the pop of color I wanted there. I love big bouquets of lilacs too but my sinuses go crazy. This board just reminded me I have to get out my "fake" bittersweet wreath and put it on my door lol.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 12:48AM
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Well, I enjoy them all: fresh during the season from my garden, occasionally from Costco or florist, some pretty potted ones ones from Homegoods, and at other times my super pricey faux flowers that are simply exquisite. I agree with everything Annie and Fun said. I have a visual arts degree and use my special faux flowers as just another medium to create an effect. I use the really good ones only in (approximate) season (I wouldn't put out iris in the fall, for example) and get a lot of satisfaction from making lovely arrangements with a variety of stems just like I do with fresh...sometimes enjoy an arrangement for as long as a month or even a tad more! - then back into tissue and storage. The few relatively inexpensive Homegood's potted or vased flowers are enjoyed year round for what they are; shots of color/joy to brighten my kitchen or whatever like someone may use a bright plate or framed print or colorful fabric. All of them, even the Homegood's ones I selected, are well made. The really good ones are life-like, some even to the touch. Personally I could never enjoy any that were really fake looking, or poor quality. Extra yucky points for added dust.... Oh, BTW, completely forgot about a varigated euonymous plant on top of a cabinet in my bedroom. Not enough light for growing but adds a needed touch. Is amazingly life-like and I enjoy looking at as much as my real plants elsewhere.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 12:50AM
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peegee, that's funny...I completely forgot about a couple of fake green plants I bought when I was having allergic reaction to ??? maybe mold in the dirt of my houseplants. Now I have them mixed together in a group. One real, two fake. No one has ever noticed that they are no longer real, as I just replaced the former live ones with a couple of fakes. The one in front wilts when it needs water, so I think everyone just assumes they are all real. Not sure why I feel differently about flowers though. Maybe too many years of seeing tacky "silk" arrangements back in the 60's and 70's when they were all the rage. For me, it's like the difference between having a kitty in the house or a toy stuffed animal. Might be cute, but there's no "life" in it.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 2:08AM
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Can you do a grouping and mix some flowers with green plants?

Trader Joes sells Orchids for $12.99. I do NOT have a green thumb - so I have to choose plants that can allow me to "forget" them for a while. The orchid typically lasts me about 5 months before I kill it, so then I just get a new one. I also have an African Violet in the mix, so that adds a bit more color.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 9:46AM
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Holly- Kay

The only live plants that I have are two Christmas Cactus plants. I get so tied up with work that I forget to water my plants so the ones that I am able to keep alive are hardy and have to thrive on neglect!

I am so looking forward to the day that I can spend more time at home to putter to my heart's content. I am trying to create a lovely space for me to enjoy my retirement.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 10:29AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Your local college or botanic garden probably offers some adult enrichment courses. Take a few flower arranging courses and get over your fear of failure of doing it "wrong".

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Received my Etsy order today. Half dozen "peach" roses, three in "full bloom", and the others half opened. She did a wonderful job. $40 for all.

As far as "silk" flowers, seems all I ran across was poly silk. I especially dislike the "plastic" stems that always seem to accompany them.

Several years ago, there was an article in a San Francisco newspaper about two women who ran a very high end flower shop. In addition, one of the women actually made genuine silk flowers, including the wrapped stems. But the prices ranged from something like $75 to $100 upwards for each flower---quite a bit beyond my budget.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 2:52AM
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Holly- Kay

KF, did you order paper flowers or did you opt for preserved flowers? I was going to order a bunch of preserved flowers but what I found was just the heads. Then you had to find stems. If anyone knows a company that ships preserved flowers that are already stemmed please let me know.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 11:18AM
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Paper flowers only. However if you search etsy for "dried flower bouquet", I'm sure you'll find craftspeople there that can give you both a preserved flower & stem. I just saw a "bridal bouquet" with 10 inch stems & pretty colored flowers for instance.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 12:35AM
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Holly- Kay

Thank you KF, I will keep looking. I may have to look at sites other than etsy to find them.

BTW, would you mind terribly posting a pic of your paper flowers? I would love to see them.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 9:49AM
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I love to have fresh flowers around - I frequently buy a very large seasonal bouquet at our outdoor market and break it up - right now it's mostly zinnias with something white that smells wonderful. In colder months, I get a bunch of tulips or something pretty when they come into the grocery stores. (Find out what day fresh flowers are delivered and ck the "expiration" dates.)

Before we moved, I frequently cut some fern fronds and hosta leaves for a vase - green and pretty w/o a lot of trouble. I only have "landscaping" plants here so far.

I keep orchids in the bathroom after they bloom but haven't had much luck in getting them to rebloom.

When I worked tax season long hours, I liked to have a bouquet of something on desk.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Here's one site, but you realize you will have to arrange them, right?

Fresh flowers look beautiful whether they are "arranged" or not. The beauty is that they are flowers.

Here is a link that might be useful: paper flowers with stems

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:28AM
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Holly- I love fresh flowers and have lots of them in the garden, but my kitties will attack almost any I bring in the house. After getting tired of cleaning up the debris, I decided to get some nice artificial flowers. Actually, I started by getting a few cute ones for my grandmother, when she was in an assisted living facility...just to bring in some color.

Anyway, I ended up with those after she passed away and then I found a few more. I did not pay a fortune, because I found them at Goodwill. That's right, I said it (LOL) Goodwill. I happened to walk in, right after someone donated some beautiful arrangements and they have purple and lavender in them, which I love.

So, do what you like and keep a Swiffer duster handy. You can still try a real arrangement once in a while (don't be so hard on yourself) and remember, a cottage floral arrangement can be a little bit of everything. I made a really lovely one last month, with roses and herbs...my kitties don't like herbs, except for catmint :)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 12:22PM
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Holly- Kay

Thanks for the comments Donna, Oly, and LL. Last week I cut hydrangeas from our yard and I put them in several containers. They aren't arranged just plopped in and they don't look too bad. I am going to give some to my DD. I will post a pic when I am home.

LL, your DGM's flowers have a special feel because they remind you of her. Not a thing wrong with Goodwill. A bargain is good wherever you get it!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 1:11PM
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