Ask Ella is a reoccurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, about floral design– including the history of, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight how to style a lavish bouquet for cheap.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. You wander into the florist’s and spot a beautiful bunch of snapdragons or some other summer Flower that perfectly captures the light-hearted flavor of season. They’re exactly what you need to offset your stack of summer reading books, or to remind you there’s a world outside when you’re confined to your air-conditioned room, binge watching food shows. You turn hopefully to the cashier and ask how much it will be. “It can’t be that much,” you reason to yourself, getting your card ready. “At least less than a Sweetgreen salad.”
The cashier rings you up. The numbers to the left of the decimal point are definitely more than a Sweetgreen salad. Have you even seen numbers that high before? You look down at the snapdragons. Are you standing under a rainbow? Is there a pot of gold tucked in between the petals? You slowly relinquish your grip and leave them where you found them, no poorer but no richer in floral decor.
Making a Bouquet can often be a taxing affair– and we do mean taxing in the monetary sense. Fortunately, there are ways of crafting an arrangement that don’t involve throwing obscene amounts of money at the situation.
We’ve made bouquets on the cheap before, but this time we set out to make a more definitive guide.
First of all, we recommend not always starting at the florist’s for blooms. One of our favorite places to pick up flowers for cheap is our local grocery store/bodega/deli hybrid, which has a surprisingly excellent selection, but probably isn’t the first place you’d think to look. Chain supermarkets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods also often have a fair array. In short, look for flowers where you might not otherwise expect them.
If, however, you find yourself back at the florist’s, focus on greens (which some florists throw in for free). Mix in a few types (like pairing eucalyptus and lemon leaves) to get an ever fuller look, without shelling out the extra (pocket) green. Stick to a main, statement bloom– whatever is in season will tend to be cheaper (and is what you should be buying anyways!). Then look for one other filler that has as many blooms per stem as you can find (like lisianthus). You can pull them apart and move them around to get a richer look.
If you do happen to end up a grocery store, don’t shy away from the actual greens– as in, the greens you might eat. Basil and sprigs of rosemary make an excellent, amazingly scented filler.
Having trouble finding a star power bloom to ground you bouquet? Try using a succulent from your own windowsill instead.
For our bouquet, we ended up settling on five stems of peonies ($6.99), eucalyptus ($2.99), three stems of hydrangeas ($6.49), and “mixed seasonal flowers” aka the tiny roses ($4.99) from Trader Joe’s.
Want to build a bouquet that will survive the heat? Check out our guide to heat-tolerant plants that won’t wilt under high temperatures.
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