Flowers are a sure way to dress up your home for the holidays, and you don't need a lot of expensive blooms to do it. Floral stylists say this is the year when style trumps opulence.
Trish O'Sullivan, a teacher and designer at the New York Botanical Garden's Floral Design Program, advises, "recycle, reuse and reinvent. Orchids will give you the biggest bang for your buck."
Orchids may provide dozens of blossoms per stem, and beautiful varieties can be found in corner stores and supermarkets, says O'Sullivan, owner of the business Eco Design by Trish O'Sullivan.
For the holiday season, she also likes roses, especially in deep burgundy, green and pure white. She suggests floating the blossoms on beds of clear cellophane in three rectangular vases and marching them down the center of your holiday table.
This season, O'Sullivan is using lots of metallic containers and accessories with flowers for holiday parties. She suggests filling silver trumpet-shape vases (she recommends Jamaligarden.com for these and other items) with roses or carnations and placing them throughout the house.
O'Sullivan creates floral ornament balls with spheres of Oasis-style foam covered with carnations and mums, and showcases them on a glass plate surrounded by holiday greens and other ornaments.
Nancy D'Oench, author of "Flower Arranging the American Way" (Abrams, 2009), suggests limiting your color palette and massing types of floral materials and textures for a bold, contemporary look. D'Oench says she is inspired by artist Georgia O'Keefe, who said she painted her flowers big so that people would see what she saw.
"Our art," D'Oench says, "is to present flowers so that busy people will stop and really look at them and see what we see."
"Let the container be your guide," she says. "Search in consignment shops and home accessories departments of discount stores for ones that really excite you and when you find one, bring it home, set it on your kitchen counter and let it talk to you."
D'Oench's book, coordinated by Deen Day Sanders, features arrangements by members of The Garden Club of America and National Garden Clubs, Inc.
When decorating your holiday table, she advises, think of the colors in the room and consider using deeper shades of those colors.
She also suggests adding unexpected elements such as cones, seed pods, fruits and vegetables to floral arrangements. When you go on a walk, stay alert for found materials you can use.
Eileen Johnson, author of "The Art of Floral Arranging" (Gibbs Smith, 2007) and director of FlowerSchool New York, says the trend this year is green "both figuratively and literally." She suggests asking your florist if their flowers are Fair Trade Certified. (To learn more about the global floral industry, she recommends reading "Flower Confidential" by Amy Stewart, Algonquin, 2007.)
Johnson says there's a lot of interest this year in texture, in both flowers and containers. Containers woven from natural materials are popular, she says.
Some tips Johnson offers:
— Shop foliage: Don't just look at the flowers — make sure the foliage is good. Healthy plants create good flowers.
— Don't try to mix too many kinds of flowers. Think of the way flowers grow in the garden. "Keep it simple. An abundance of the same color flowers or the same types of flowers are easiest to arrange," she says.
— Always remove the foliage (thorns as well) that will be below the water line in the vase.
— Use clean containers; unclean containers develop bacteria.
— Keep the water clean. Change it frequently, every day if possible.
— Clean stems thoroughly to remove any bacteria before you arrange the flowers.
— Buy flowers on the "break" — not too open, not too tight.
ON THE NET
The New York Botanical Garden Continuing Education www.nybg.org/educ
Trish O'Sullivan Design http://trishosullivandesign.com
Jamali Garden Supplies www.jamaligarden.com
FlowerSchool New York http://www.flowerschoolny.com
World Association of Flower Arrangers http://www.wafausa.org
Michael George http://www.michaelgeorgecustomfloral.com
About Flowers http://www.aboutflowers.com
Flowers. Alive with Possibilities www.flowerpossibilities.com
Dutch Flower Line West http://www.dutchflowerline.com