A personally-designed flower arrangement from child to mother is one way to make her feel special for Mother’s Day. (Photo by Leslie Milby)

Getting and giving flowers is one of the best ways to bring a smile to someone’s face whether the occasion is a happy one, sad one, or no specific occasion at all — and yes, that “someone” could simply be you.
But with it being May, Mother’s Day is on May 12, and as you can imagine, it is a holiday that gives Valentine’s Day a run for it’s money in floral sales.
To make mom really feel special, try your hand at creating your own bouquet of flowers to continue your reign as favorite child. (You are her favorite, aren’t you?)
If you can’t or don’t grow your own flowers, local growers and florists can still meet your needs.
With brides and party planners tackling their own bouquets these days, many flower farms and shops offer buckets of flowers or DIY bunches already, and if they don’t specifically list it in their offerings, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Unlike the majority of supermarkets and box stores who ship their flowers in from overseas, chances are your local supplier will cut them just a day or two at most before you use them in bouquet.
Carrie Jennings, owner of Honeybee Flower Farms in Cordova, is a local grower who can attests that DIY is in for arrangements, as it’s rare she comes back from a day at the Easton Farmers’ Market with much left of her buckets of field grown, insecticide-free flowers, if any at at all. Even if there’s no special party or occasion, she says folks can’t quite walk past without scooping some up.
“Pinterest is the perfect example of how beautiful bouquets are all so very unique, where red roses, babies breath and ferns or white peonies and greenery, although beautiful, are no longer the norm,” Jennings says. “The picked fresh from the garden feel seems to be taking center stage in terms of what brides are now seeking. Colors, textures and varieties of flowers!”
Your very first steps in making your fresh bouquet is keeping your flowers fresh.
If you are picking flowers from the field, keep the flowers fresh by putting them in water as you pick them or if you’re getting them from a shop, bring something to transport them so they sit in water and keep them cool.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with the container. As long as the opening is large enough to fit your flowers, and won’t leak or tip over, it’s worth a try. Try a crock, a pottery canister, a pitcher, or something else that mom or the recipient can use again if you plan on gifting.
Water remains important as you arrange your bouquet.
“Another tip: Try not to hold the flowers out of water for too long while hand held arranging. Once the desired look is achieved, cut the stems to the length of the vase with the flowers overflowing along the edge of the vase,” Jennings says. “If any tweaking needs to be done, it’s much easier to do once the bulk of the blooms and greenery are already in the vase.”
From there, it seems everyone has a favorite tip for what to add.
A splash of Sprite, 7-Up, or lemon juice, a teaspoon of sugar, and just under a teaspoon of bleach seems to be the most popular freshness cocktail to prevent wilt and bacteria as well as help with absorption but other folks also swear by vodka, aspirin, or apple cider.
Even if you decide to go with just plain water, the most important tip is to simply refresh the water every day or so to limit bacterial growth.
Regardless of the style arrangement you chose, as you start to arrange the best method is to cut stems at a 45-degree angle with clean and sharp scissors to create more surface area to absorb water intake. You’ll also want to strip leaves that would be in the water of the vase as they can accelerate bacteria as well.
If you accidentally cut a bloom too short, don’t toss it.
Try a smaller “vase” like a teacup or jam jar.
So, about that desired look — what is it? First, rest assured, flowers are so lovely they make it hard to make an ugly bouquet!
If you’ve selected a wide variety of colors, textures, sizes and more, your job of perfecting is easier– because there’s no real wrong way to do it. Jennings says, just don’t overthink it.
“With a DIY bucket, the easiest method in terms of creating centerpieces/bouquets, is to literally take stems out of the bucket and hold them in their hand until it fits their ideal look,” she advises her customers. “Just like walking through a meadow and picking a handheld bouquet of flowers… it always looks natural!”
If you have chosen a color palette or certain variety to make a more deliberate arrangement, you still have options such as having all your flowers match, such as all peonies, all tulips, etc., or choose different varieties in similar color families only such as roses and peonies.
If you are still hesitant about taking the floral designing plunge, you could use a block of oasis (the green foam you find at the bottom of profesional arrangements), or create a grid with floral tape or “pillow” out of chicken wire, netting, or whatever you can fit nicely into your vase that will hold your stems in place.
Start with greens around the edge and then place your focal flowers or “showstoppers,” — the larger, most vibrant flowers that draw the eye first — where you want them.
Next, fill in with secondary flowers which aren’t quite as large or as “loud,” followed by wispy, smaller flowers that work as fillers.
As you work, if you aren’t using a large variety of flowers, or if you are breaking apart a grocery store bundle, nestle your flowers in small pods according to variety.
Another very spring idea is experimenting around with flowering branches. Just like flower stems, cut a small snip at the bottom to help with water absorption.
While flowers look pretty perched up in on window sill, most flowers are sensitive to the sun and would do better and last longer in a shadier, cooler spot.
And to really make mom’s day, remember to clean up after your project!