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How to Buy and Arrange Flowers Like an Expert

How to Buy and Arrange Flowers Like an Expert

Cut flower displays can brighten any home or workplace, and the type of display created can evoke a message: A small display of multi-coloured local flowers in a rustic container can give a homey feel, whereas some tall, majestic stems in an contemporary style glass vase can be a show of confidence and elegance in the office reception. Whatever style you want to create, there are some important tips to remember when buying cut flowers that will ensure your displays stay looking their best for as long as possible.

Bouquet

    Buying Your Flowers:

    Cut flowers can be purchased in a multitude of places, such as gas stations, grocery stores, roadside stalls as well as the usual florist shops. Take into consideration the length of time the flowers have taken from being cut to being on display; although some of the cheapest may be found in grocery stores or have the convenience of being sold at gas stations, if these are sold in pre-prepared bouquets there is more probability that these flowers were cut and prepared a while ago and that they will not be at their freshest.

    Buy in season.

    Flowers that are in season are likely to be the freshest. Out-of-season varieties may have been imported from elsewhere and the journey time between being cut, transported and displayed will be longer. In-season choices tend also to be cheaper, being more in abundance, and without the import costs.

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    Examine the flowers.

    Look at the stems. If the stems are unbroken and have clean, healthy looking ends with a strong colour, they are still at their peak, but if the ends look faded, slimy or mushy, then they are not healthy specimens. Bacteria in the water can damage the stems, and will travel up them, weakening and damaging the leaves and heads of the flowers and inhibiting the ability to take up water.

    Stems

      Look at the water in the container.

      Is it fresh and clear in appearance? If the water is murky and smells stagnant, it is full of bacteria which attack and starve the flowers of nutrients and promote their decay. Leaves submerged or floating in the water will also encourage bacterial growth.

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      Check the leaves.

      Leaves should have a strong colour and should not drooping from the stems. Any discolouration—such as turning brown or yellow, or becoming speckled—may indicate infection, and leaves with holes or bits missing may have succumbed to attack from insects. A pest infestation will weaken the flowers and speed up their decline as well as affecting their appearance.

      Check the flower heads.

      The petals should have a defined colour and be soft, but also dry and firm to touch. Avoid buying if the petals are moist, fading in colour, turning brown or dropping off. Choose flowers with buds that are just about to open; they will unfurl and flower in the vase, and will continue to look their best for longer, compared to a bunch that is already in full bloom.

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      Flower heads

        Arranging Your Flowers.

        Water And Feed.

        First, fill the vase with cool or lukewarm water with added flower food. Most foods contain an anti-bacterial agent, but otherwise a small amount of bleach, lemon juice or vinegar can be added and will create a slight increase in acidity, which will inhibit bacterial growth.

        Cutting The Stems.

        If possible avoid using scissors to cut the stems. Often these are not sharp enough, and the action of the blades can crush the stems. Ideally use pruning shears or a floral knife. Cut at a 45 degree angle to maximise the openings to allow water absorption. Remove any leaves that will fall below the waterline.

        Searing The Stems.

        Searing the ends of the stems will force the air out of the stems, seal the cut, and preserve mositure. Place about 10% of the end of the stems in boiling hot water for about 30 seconds for soft stems or until the water becomes lukewarm for tougher stems. Be careful to protect the heads of the flowers from the steam by wrapping them loosely in brown paper. When ready, cut the ends again before arranging.

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        Display.

        For the display, consider the type of presentation you would like to create. Do you want something dramatic, or something cheerful and colourful? A bouquet that promotes calm, or a dazzling display of riotous colour? The two main aspects of flower arranging are colour and shape.

        Arranging flowers

          Colour.

          For most displays, stick to between one to three hues, unless you are intending on a wild, carefree display. For more visual impact with a sense of order, arrange different flowers of the same colour together. To create a good back drop that will enhance the colours, add foliage to the display: vibrant or deep green will enhance the tones of the flowers.

          Shape.

          The best way to create shape is to use a criss-cross grid in the vase, which maintains the shape and structure of the display. Add foliage first, and then the flowers. For large-stemmed flowers, put one per square, and for small dedicate flowers, a bunch in each will ensure a well-filled arrangement. A simple but impacting display uses a narrow-necked vase or container with a single stemmed flower.

          Stability.

          To maintain the structure of the display, use clear rubber bands to hold groups of stems together. The best place to position is these is at a point on the stems where they enter the water. This will prevent them being easily visible.

          Finally, these tips will help you create a good visual arrangement, but there are no rights and wrongs, so choose what you want from your bouquet, and let your own style be reflected in your display.

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          Last Updated on March 13, 2019

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

          You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

          Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

          1. Work on the small tasks.

          When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

          Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

          2. Take a break from your work desk.

          Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

          Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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          3. Upgrade yourself

          Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

          The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

          4. Talk to a friend.

          Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

          Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

          5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

          If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

          Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

          Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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          6. Paint a vision to work towards.

          If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

          Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

          Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

          7. Read a book (or blog).

          The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

          Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

          Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

          8. Have a quick nap.

          If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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          9. Remember why you are doing this.

          Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

          What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

          10. Find some competition.

          Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

          Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

          11. Go exercise.

          Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

          Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

          As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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          Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

          12. Take a good break.

          Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

          Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

          Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

          Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

          More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

          Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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