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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 September 16, 2019

          How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

          How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

          You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

          We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

          The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

          Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

          1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

          Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

          For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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          • (1) Research
          • (2) Deciding the topic
          • (3) Creating the outline
          • (4) Drafting the content
          • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
          • (6) Revision
          • (7) etc.

          Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

          2. Change Your Environment

          Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

          One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

          3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

          Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

          Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

          My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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          Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

          4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

          If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

          Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

          I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

          5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

          I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

          Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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          As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

          6. Get a Buddy

          Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

          I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

          7. Tell Others About Your Goals

          This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

          For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

          8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

          What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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          9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

          If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

          Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

          10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

          Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

          Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

          11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

          At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

          Reality check:

          I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

          More About Procrastination

          Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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