A Better Florist Flower Workshop

Flowers. Ellis loves to receive them from me and she always asks for them. All these while, I had the convenience of having a florist arrange the flowers into a hand bouquet. I only have to whip out my credit card to get a bouquet of flowers so I never thought much about what it takes to make one. That is until I attended a flower workshop held by A Better Florist.

Stop and Smell The Roses.

Gathering the Flowers

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, more than a dozen of participants have gathered around tables to make their own flower bouquet. For most of us there, this is our first time. The teacher, Elijah, is passing flowers down and giving out instructions. The first flowers we are getting are the pink China roses. The noise level went up a notch as the girls grabbed the flowers. The roses have sharp thorns that have to be removed with a tool called the "Dethorner". In a single downward motion, the dethorner strips both leaves and thorns. The roses are now safe to handle and Ellis can't wait to pose with them.

The pink carnations are next. These flowers come with the petals still closed up so there is work to be done. We split and peel back the sepals (the green leaf-like bottom) to make space for the petals to bloom. Next, we massage the top of the flower in a gentle circular motion. This encourages the petals to spread into a nice bloom.

The pink carnations comes closed

The petals open up with some massaging

The white eustoma flowers, one of Ellis' favourite flowers, add variation to the now growing bouquet. They are easy to work with as the leaves peel off easily from the stem. With the three different flowers in hand, we add fillers now to give volume to the bouquet. The fillers we are working with are Baby's Breath, Gold Phoenix, Eucalyptus and Ruscus Isreali.

Baby's breath

I didn't know the name of the fillers until today. The girls are visibly excited with the mention of baby's breath. These tiny and numerous white flowers spread evenly out on tiny stems looks like a sky of full of stars. There is an understated beauty to this flower.

Gold phoenix on the left and Baby Blue Eucalyptus on the right.

This is the first time I am seeing the gold phoenix and they looked like rice stalks to me from afar. On closer look, it has yellow flowers that spread out in an inverted V-shape.

These eucalyptus leaves have a thick and waxy feel. When I cut the stems, a woody sweet scent emanates from the cut. This is from the natural oil in the plant. I went to look up on eucalyptus and there are many different varieties of it. The one that we received is the baby blue variety and it is more like a shrub. It is unlike the eucalyptus tree leaves that the koala bears feed on.

All the flowers we will be working with today

Arranging the flowers

With all the stalks and stems in hand, it is time to put them together. The overall feel that we are going for the rustic feel if you haven't figure out by now. It is at this moment that I feel helpless. How does one arrange the flower? Elijah demonstrated to us with the flowers he gathered. He started with three roses, add some ruscus, then carnations on the sides, then the eustomas, followed by baby's breath in front, gold phoenix at the back and he was done. The bouquet took the shape of a half bouquet.

Adding flowers one at a time

Now, Elijah makes this easy. I say this because when Ellis did her first try, it was nowhere as good as the teacher's. The bouquet looked out of shape and scrawny. My feeble attempt at salvaging the bouquet failed miserably too.

Our first try.
Ellis started from scratch for the second time and it looked better now. I realised making a bouquet requires a skill of visualising and then shifting stalks of flowers and leaves left, right, up and down by a few centimetres. You begin with a mental image of how you want to the bouquet to look and then work towards it. The rate of success depends on your experience. This is art and craft.

Our second try. It's an improvement.

We made a beautiful mess of the table.
Elijah made his way around the table and helped the participants with their bouquet. He gave his opinion on the areas that were lacking and then showed how to rectify it. Ellis wanted a long bouquet. To achieve that look, the flowers are arranged like a waterfall: the flowers at back is higher than the flowers in front. With Elijah's help, the flowers are arranged and the stems are taped together.

Third try with the teacher's help.

Making the bouquet

Adding the finishing touch.

We are now in the finishing stretch. The bouquet is wrapped with a piece of hemp cloth. The cloth is folded at the edges and then wrapped around the flowers. A hemp string in a shoelace knot holds everything together. I present to you our first self-made flower bouquet.

The bouquet looks pretty. I would buy this from any shop. By the smile on Ellis' face, I can tell she is happy with how the flowers turn out. After two hours of guided help at this workshop, I am a slightly better florist now. For the next special occasion, I shall make a bouquet for Ellis.

Information on Workshop