The Pleasures of Making My Own Bouquets

Here is a bouquet featuring several types of yellow flowers, some non-yellow geraniums, and some non-flowering white sage in the back-center.

I once took a two-hour workshop on how to make a flower bouquet. Thus, I know a few principles of choosing and arranging flowers, which is more than 99% of people know, but I am hardly an expert.

Here is a photo of a bouquet I made before I had even considered going through the KonMari method. While taking the photo, I used a pillowcase to block the visual noise. I could have altered this photo to remove most of the visual noise, but I want you to see it, and imagine how the visual effect of the flowers can be wasted if the background is too noisy.

Before I went through the KonMari method, I sometimes made bouquets and put them in my room, but the place where I put them had so much visual noise that they could not change the ambiance of my room. They were very nice to look at when I was focusing on them, but they could not fully contribute to the visual background of my room.

Another photo of that same bouquet, with visual noise visible beyond the pillowcase.

After having finished by KonMari tidying festival, I am making my own bouquets much more often. In fact, just about the only time I do not have cut flowers in my room is when I have cleaned out the glass container and am letting it dry out. And now that my room has a lot less visual noise, the flower bouquets pop out a lot more, and improve the ambience even when they are in the background.

I pick all of the flowers myself. I volunteer at a local garden, and one of the perks is that I am allowed to harvest a very small quantity of flowers for my own personal use. This means that all of the flowers are very freshly picked, much fresher than any cut flowers I could buy commercially, and thus they last longer. I also get to choose my flowers, and experiment with using different kinds of flowers.

The dahlia (the big showy yellow flower in this bouquet) lasts only half a week as a cut flower, but it is stunning while it lasts.

Having picked all of these flowers myself and from my neighborhood, I can often tell approximately what season a bouquet came based on which flowers are available at that time of year in San Francisco. Making a habit of picking my own flowers has made me aware of the flowers in my area in a way I had not be aware of before, making my relationship with my floral ecosystem more intimate.

The fact that there is a Matilija poppy (also known as the ‘fried egg flower’) and lemon verbena in bloom means that this must be a summer bouquet, most likely from August. Fun Fact: Matilija poppies have the largest flowers of any plant native to California. They are not native to San Francisco, yet grow well in San Francisco gardens.

The flowers I pick are only one step removed from being wildflowers. Yes, they are planted and minimally cared for by humans (except Calla lilies, which are a weed in San Francisco), but they are not treated with pesticides and herbicides, and they are fully exposed to outdoor weather and wildlife. Sometimes I unintentionally bring a little of that wildlife into my room with the flowers (spiders seem particularly common).

A bouquet with roses, a calla lily, lupine stalks, and one pink flower I don’t know the name of.

These flowers do increase the amount of dirt in my room, and thus the effort I need to put into cleaning if I want to keep my room clean. They wilt, they drop petals and dirt, the water needs to be changed lest it becomes stinky, the container needs to be cleaned periodically, some leaves may fall off and float to some other corner of my room where it will rot, etc. I enjoy them so much that I am willing to do the extra cleanup.

Here is the same bouquet, but in artificial light rather than natural light. The shadows are much more pronounced in this light.

Even though it is an effort to clean up and eventually remove flowers as they wilt, I find that one of the beauties of live flowers. I find it amazing that they can still grow, and even bloom, for a limited time after being cut off from their roots. And I like that the flowers change, even when they change by decaying, because it means that my bouquets are never staying the same. In other words, I appreciate them more because they are fleeting.

See the leftmost rose blossom. It bloomed after I picked this rose branch – compare with the first photo of this particular bouquet. Also notice that the red roses have disappeared.

Because the bouquets are always changing, and I am always using different flowers, I continue to learn more about flowers by observing which flowers are available, choosing flowers to pick, choosing different arrangements of flowers in the bouquets, cleaning up the flowers, and seeing how long flowers last. I enjoy this learning very much.

It is the very same bouquet again. I experimented with taking the petals from wilted rose blooms I removed and spreading them on the table for extra decoration while they lasted.

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