Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Truth in advertising

In this age of spin, marketing and double-speak, it's refreshing to see a book that delivers precisely what it promises. Simply Elegant Flowers is exactly that: a guide to creating beautiful, elegant arrangements with simple flowers that are easy to obtain (even in Ketchikan). Written by Bob Shuman, and filled with advice from Michael George - who is the flower stylist for the New York City elite - this book is a must for anyone who doesn't know what to do with their flowers. George lists the 5 "hot blooms" to arrange these days, three of which (alstroemeria, roses and carnations) are always available at the local grocery store. He also recommends irises, Gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums for economical but lovely displays. Most importantly, he shows you how to work with the darn things. He includes advice for prolonging your blooms, since even the cheapest flowers aren't that cheap, and the steps to take to restore "air-blocked" roses: roses whose stems are drooping. His instructions on how to arrange flowers are easy to follow, and will produce lovely bouquets of tulips, roses, peonies, dahlias and daisies.
In the second part of the book, he goes through the year of flowers. For each season, he lists some of the popular blooms to use, the difficulty level in arranging them, and other little snippets of information. He also gives you 'recipes' for flower arrangements, listing exactly which flowers to use, how many stems you need, the arrangement technique and the tools you'll need (usually rubber bands, sharp scissors, flower food and sometimes floral foam). You can create gorgeous pieces using something as simple as a handful of lily-of-the-valley or as complex as a Parisian bouquet filled with 40 stems of flowers, herbs, berries and foliage. A special choice for Ketchikan: a lovely tabletop arrangement of cedar twigs and chamomile (often available at the store).
Simple. Elegant. Flowers.

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