It occurred to me this past weekend that I am a bit of a risk taker. At least when we are talking recipes. Oh, and anything related to gardens or flowers.
I very rarely follow written recipes completely, modifying them with favorite, gluten-free, or on-hand ingredients. For family dinners I usually try out at least one new recipe, and this past (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner was no exception.
I made the perennially favourite pumpkin pie as well as cherry and butter tarts, but instead of apple pie or crisp, I tried a strawberry rhubarb crisp. My brother had commented on Facebook a while back that he was craving strawberry rhubarb pie and no one would make one for him, so as he was hosting dinner this past Sunday I took the bait. One of my clients donated the rhubarb and I had frozen strawberries on hand. The recipe called for fresh strawberries, so I just let mine thaw on the counter before using them. I do believe the dessert was a favourite at the table; the bit that was left in the pan was scooped up by my nephew to take home for later.
Tired of the popular vegetable dishes this time of year too, I decided to try roasted zucchini as my vegetable contribution. It too turned out delicious; I will definitely make it again. I simply sliced 3 yellow and 3 green zucchini lengthwise into about 6 spears each (you could slice them into coins instead) placed them on a greased cookies sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them with a mixture of parmesan cheese, garlic, oregano, and dried basil, and baked then broiled them to perfection. Yummy!
Someone asked me after I volunteered to make my daughter-in-law’s wedding bouquets if I wasn’t nervous they wouldn’t turn out. My new daughter-in-law is wonderfully laid back, so I knew if the bouquets weren’t exactly perfect, she would not stress over it, otherwise, I might have been more nervous and (probably) would not have offered my services. All five were different and definitely unique creations…
I consider cooking or baking and gardening to be artistic adventures, and I think most will agree that artists of any kind have to take some risks to be unique. I guess I do tend to fly by the seat of my pants (as I call it) or like to take (some) risks, but it is (almost) always worth it!
Recently I attempted DIY bridal bouquets, (five of them), 5 boutonnieres, three corsages, and one crown/headpiece for my son’s wedding. I have lots of perennial plants in my gardens and lots of clients with even more beautiful flowers, so I thought “piece of cake.” Not so much; it was a much trickier DIY than I thought but well worth the effort.
I researched lots of Pinterest pages, and other DIY sites for bridal bouquets so I had notes to refer to. The toughest part was that I could not do much (other than research) ahead of time (other than pace my gardens willing the flowers to bloom!) To keep the flowers fresh for as long as possible, I could only pick them the day before the wedding.
Mother Nature threw me a CURVE BALL too; I had planted lots of purple flowering perennials last fall that were supposed to bloom at the beginning of June. Due to the cold and wet spring we experienced here in Ottawa, very few of those flowers were in bloom in time. White peonies with purple roses and clematis were not meant to be for this bride. Fortunately, I was able to use flowers from gardens I tend in my business.
The following are the basic tips to ensure your DIY bridal bouquets turn out well. Some are obvious, some not so much, and some lessons I learned along the way…
don’t pick the flowers earlier than the morning before the wedding
have more flowers and foliage than you think you need
as soon as you do pick them, cut the stems longer than they need to be and put the cut stems in cold water immediately
use a clean bucket and clean cutters (this helps the blooms last longer)
recut the stems while they are under running water or in water (this ensures no air bubble get into the stems, preventing premature wilting/rotting
let the flowers sit in cold water for a minimum of 3 hours before arranging.
to assemble, start with the main/center flowers, then add others to fill out the bouquets. Add foliage last
Stand in front of a mirror as you are arranging them to better see how they look
use elastics to hold the flowers together, placing them just below the top of the stem. If your bouquets are large you can use several elastic to hold flowers together in groups
prop up droopy flower heads with wire or tape (I should have done that with the rhododendrons in my bouquets, they were very droopy by the end of the day)
use tinier flowers and blooms for boutonnieres and headpieces, (see below) cutting stems short. These short stems do not stay as fresh as long as the longer stems, so plan to make these last
I made each bouquet different, creating as I went along. If you want them all to be identical, you will have to count out your available flowers and have a more detailed plan. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants!
as you finish each bouquet, place it in a separate vase of water so the flowers do not get crushed/crowded
leave a few extra inches of stems at the bottom of each bouquet for final trimming
buy lots of ribbon; you can always return whatever you do not use
wide ribbon wraps faster and easier than thin ribbon, but seems to come off easier. I used a narrow ribbon for a base, then did a top layer in a wider ribbon
make all the bouquets first before starting to wrap them with ribbon. This ensures flowers are not out of water for too long.
start wrapping ribbon near the tops of stems (where elastics are)
if you choose to have dangling ribbons, loop them in at the top before wrapping, keeping them out of the way as you work
hold the ribbon with one hand and the bouquet with the other, turning the bouquet as you wrap. The first (downward) layer of the ribbon does not have to be perfect; you can leave some stem showing between, filling in the blanks on the upward layer. Leave two inches of unwrapped stem at the bottoms so the ribbon does not get wet
put each bouquet back into its vase with fresh water just below the ribbon
at the last minute ( I could do this as pictures were taken at my home, so cut excess stems off literally 2 minutes before the bridal bouquets were needed) cut off excess stems
These are my DIY bridal bouquets:
This headpiece was made as follows;
measure the head with a piece of string
use a few (more than one) strands of floral wire to ensure stability, overlapping it by two inches, wrap it with floral tape
cut flowers just before you use them (they wilt quickly) making stems 2 inches long
lay out flowers in the pattern you want to place them on the headpiece
place one bloom on the headpiece so that the stem is on top of and parallel to the wire circle
secure bloom to circle with floral tape, starting just below a bloom and wrapping both stem and wire circle until the end of the stem
overlap the next bloom so it sits on top of the previous bloom’s stem, working your way around the circle of taped wire
tie strands of ribbon (if desired) to the headpiece at the center back
when complete, mist the creation with a bit of water and place it in a plastic baggy. Blow air into the baggie and seal it. Keep it in the baggy for as long as possible, the tiny blooms wilt quickly! Store it in a refrigerator or cool room (basement)
I tried something a little different for the DIY boutonnieres. I grew my own calla lilies, starting them in pots in my basement last winter…
The groom’s had three tiny purple pom pom-like flowers, the groomsmen just the calla lily and foliage. For the foliage, I used tiny calla lily leaves and snippets of English ivy vine…
cut stems about 3 inches longer (could be shorter or longer as desired)
arrange flowers and foliage in the pattern you choose
wrap stems with floral wire
add a decorative pin for securing to lapels
place each boutonniere in its own plastic baggy, mist lightly with water, blow air into the baggy, and seal. Store baggies in the refrigerator or cool room (I kept them all in my basement)
these too will wilt quickly as the stems and blooms are small. My one son joked he had “salad on his suit” by the end of the night
The DIY corsages did not turn out so well. The short stems would not stay in the pearl wristbands I chose. I tried securing them with floral wire, but they kept falling apart. The intense heat of the day did not help as the flowers wilted quickly too. I would appreciate comments/suggestions on what I could have done differently, just in case I have another wedding soon…
I was very happy with the DIY bridal bouquets and floral decor.
I have a passion for purple, especially purple flowers. When my daughter-in-law decided purple was the color she wanted in her bouquets and floral decorations, I was excited as I have lots of purple flowers in my gardens. I even planted extra purple flowering perennials just in case I didn’t have enough…
Too bad many of them didn’t bloom in time for the weddingthanks to the wet and cool spring Mother Nature gifted us with this year. To improvise, I borrowed purple blossoms from my clients’ garden to supplement the ones I did have in bloom to make bouquets and flower arrangements.
For the past week (now almost two weeks after the wedding) my passion for purple has been blooming in profusion in my gardens!