There is a marvelous woman, a beautiful talented marvelous woman for whom I adore making flower arrangements. Margaret is an internet guru and one hell of a karaoke-er. I have been known to grab the mic, dazzling onlookers with a Broadway inspired rendition of “Afternoon Delight”, but I digress.
Margaret’s colleagues at Facebook asked me to create something for her birthday. Initially I thought of getting out the glue gun and going for it. You know how I do. But instead, I thought of something more elegant, a touch reserved and super luscious.
Margaret likes orange, as do I (OH!!! the David Austin bare root roses are filling the local nurseries and I highly recommend Princess Margaretta-a rich orange rose that stinks to high heaven of classic old rose. I just bought two along with some super-duper fabulous Claire Austin roses and of course the inimitable Barbra Streisand rose. (Don’t even try it-she and it are sublime.)
I often find orange flowers to be a touch hostage-taking in flower arrangements and while they can be as sweet and slightly acidic as citrus, it is important to keep the orange as subtle as possible so that when the flower arrangement makes its way into the home, it is a compliment rather than a distraction.
How to start. Well, I have become enamored of these Portuguese cork vases available at Coast Wholesale located in the SF Flower Mart. They are bold and rich and very earthy-they go with everything and have a nice shape. They require a liner and no two are the same shape. This particular vase was the perfect size for one of my flower buckets that I simply trimmed down to fit.
In goes the Oasis foam. (Remember to pre-fill your sink with water and GENTLY drop the bricks into the bath. Let them drink the water at their own pace and DO NOT push them into the water. As mentioned in previous posts, the bricks that are in any way pressured to drink will develop terrible air pockets. Should a stem that is pushed into the foam make its way into that particular spot, it will surly wilt from lack of water.)
I cut the blocks in no particular order, and as seen in the photo I was not particularly neat about it this time-I tend to be very particular about my Oasis. No matter, it is good to have a mix of foam and water for an arrangement like this (accomplished by having some bricks lower than others) and so a few gullies and holes amongst the foam is fine as long as the foam does not bob in the vase. However you choose to cut your Oasis, it should be snug in the container.
The most vibrant flower in this mix is the Amaryllis. They are indeed a strange and beautiful flower. The stalks are hallow. Indeed, they are completely hallow. Often the flower heads become so heavy as they open that they will bend the stem and flop over. Not a terribly good look. I take a bamboo stake and cut it an inch longer than the stem and insert it all the way up into the stem. This allows the flower to continue drinking as you pierce the Oasis foam with the bamboo and secures the stem. It is an odd thing actually, but super helpful.
The oasis foam makes placement a snap and for those of you who want to create a bountiful look but do not have a large amount of cut flowers, the oases is good for securing the flowers in exactly the position you want it to be in. Think of it as putting a pencil in the sand, or a candle in a cake.
What I often do when I am working with asymmetrical and “organic” vases is to cluster a few like flowers on the left and right to get a sense of how wide I want the arrangement to be and then whether it stays there or not, I also put a stem in the center to establish how tall I want the arrangement to be. This is also a good opportunity to see how many empty spaces you will need to fill with flowers. Should you feel a bit insecure about your inventory of flowers, simply tighten up the sided and drop the center flower.
And here is the final product. A rich but subtle orange arrangement of Combo aka ShamWow roses, coral Amaryllis, Calla Lilies the color of pink and orange washed cement, all complimented by a smattering of Monarch butterflies.
If you decide to use Oasis foam, I would be mindful of the two varieties available to you. “Springtime” is for use with delicate stems such as those of Narcissus, Callas, etc. “Standard” Oasis foam is for use with heavier stemmed flowers like roses, dahlia, and Oriental Lilies.
I hope you get a chance to use Oasis in your arrangements. It can be a bit daunting I know but if you think like a kid or like a cook, you can simply cut and play and fill your opaque vases with this funzie foam and poke at it with flowers. You will soon be quiet relieved by the freedom it gives you to place flowers and to have them stay exactly where you want them to.
Have fun, and remember that invariably flowers prefer fresh uninterrupted water. And while Oasis foam is an excellent way to create flower arrangements, you will lose about 20-35% of the time you could otherwise have enjoyed the flowers had you used fresh water. Just sayin’
Have fun and please share your photos on my Facebook page. I would love to see what you all come up with!