A freshly cut flower arrangement is one attainable luxury that adds elegance, color and style to my table on a regular basis. If I’m in a pinch, I’ll call the florist, but I prefer arranging my own flowers as it really adds a nice personal touch. In LA, I go to the Flower Mart downtown. This is where all of the pros in Southern California get their flowers. You have to get there pretty early for the best selection since it opens to the public as early as 6 AM depending on the day of the week, but it’s worth it. Trust me, you have never seen so many beautiful blooms in one place before! I’m talking rows and rows of roses, carnations, tulips, orchids, lilies and any other kind of flower you can imagine. If you don’t have a flower district near you, however, local farmers markets can be another good place to shop for fresh stems.
When you’re shopping, try to choose colors that complement your space, but don’t be afraid to go bold. When in doubt, keep the arrangement simple. An elegant bouquet of one type of flower mixed in with a few sprigs of greenery will never go out of style. Pink peonies are my personal favorite—classic and feminine!
Once you have your flowers ready to go, trim off any extra foliage and cut the stems off at an angle, allowing them to absorb water better. Try to keep the stems at a uniform height, and as a general rule, less than 12 inches long if you’ll be setting the arrangement on the table. You don’t want your guests to have to crane their necks around towering arrangements just to talk to each other!
If you’re using a clear glass vase like I did in the picture of the peonies, lining the vase with an aspidistra leaf or any other long leaf you have available is a nice touch. Fill your vase with cool water and place four flowers in a square in the center and the rest around them. This should give a nice shape to your bouquet.
And here are a couple of household remedies to keep your flowers fresh for longer: Try adding a pinch of crushed aspirin, a couple drops of bleach, a penny or a sugar cube to the cold water before you put your flowers in. It might sound crazy, but they all work!
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.