Since the 15th century, Japan has had schools that teach ikebana ” the art of flower arranging. To save you the hassle of traveling back in time, we’re providing this sheet of tips.
Always start with fresh flowers. Choosing buds and watching them open is another way to prolong your enjoyment. After purchasing, put your fresh flowers in warm water (baby-bottle hot, about 105° F) as soon as possible while you choose your vase. Trim the tips at a 45-degree angle with very sharp, clean clippers or a knife to allow water to be absorbed by the stem.
Decide which vase you are going to use before you shorten your flowers. Clean your vase with soapy water and bleach to help keep your flowers and water bacteria free. Consider using everyday items like teapots and even boots as novelty vases.
As a general rule of thumb, the size of your vase will determine how much stem you want to keep. Most flowers are trimmed to 1 1/2 to 2 times the height or length of the vase, whichever is longer. Be sure to keep the flowers intended for the center ” those with small and light colored blossoms ” longer. Trim off any leaves that will be covered by water.
If you have any filler foliage or flowers, put them in the vase first, criss-crossing the stems around the vase. This will help hold the other flowers upright and in place. Placing some marbles or small stones in the vase will also help position flower stems.
Use odd numbers of flowers. Work in your flowers from the outside in, spacing them like the three tips of a triangle. Place deeper colored flowers on the “inside” ” in the center and bottom of the arrangement. Save your tallest flowers for the center of the arrangement and place them in last.
Now stand back see how it looks. Move anything that seems to need it. Trim any stems that are still too tall. As you experiment with a variety of flowers, colors, vases, sizes, big and small arrangements, and simple and complex configurations, here are a couple more things to think about. Arrangements don’t have to be symmetrical to be attractive. Experiment with unusual colors and varieties of flowers. Combining elements that please and seem right together is what should guide you. And don’t forget to try out other things besides vases for flower containers. Jars, glasses, bottles ” anything that won’t leak! This could be the start of something fun and beautiful.
A final note: Avoid placing your flower arrangement in drafts; the air flow will dehydrate them.
Christina Abuelo is market manager for the Foothill Farmers’ Market Association.
Local farmers markets are held Tuesdays at Kings Beach, located at the corner of Highway 28 and Coon Street; Tuesdays at Truckee, located on Brockway Road at the Truckee River Regional Park on Brockway Road; Thursdays at Tahoe City, which meets Thursdays at Commons Beach; and Saturdays at Homewood Mountain Ski Resort. Hours at all markets are from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 823-6183 or check the Web site, http://www.foothillfarmersmarket.com.