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26 Jun 2020

How to make a hand-tied bouquet

Fyvie Castle: Hand-tied bouquet tutorial


Hi everyone, today I’m going to be showing you how to make a hand-tied bouquet.

Now, for those of you that don’t know, I used to be a florist in a previous life. So I thought I’d take the time today to show you all how to make a nice hand-tied bouquet from the flowers you might have in your garden.

So I’ve selected some flowers here that we have in our garden. So I’ve got some delphinium here, some nice sort of lilac delphinium. I have a nice white delphinium here. Some Alchemilla, which is a lovely little yellow flower with a nice limey-green foliage. Some eryngium, or thistle you may know it as, or sea holly. I’ve got this lovely little geranium here as well, which again is going to make a nice filler because it’s got this lovely foliage with this beautiful little pink flower on the end. I have some peony rose here as well. And, what else have I got, some Astrantia. OK. And some Centaurea.

So all of this stuff has come from the garden. I’ve also got a nice fern here as well, which I’ll maybe frame the bouquet with, you know, just a nice collar of foliage around the outside of the bouquet.

So they’re all the flowers I’m using. OK, so the first thing you want to do is condition all your flowers. Now, conditioning all your flowers basically means stripping the foliage off about one-third of the stem of the flowers.

So I’ve already done, you can see here with the eryngium, I’ve already taken off the foliage about, sort of, about two-thirds, I beg your pardon, about two-thirds off the stem, leaving about a third on the top of the stem.

So you do that with all your flowers, you’ll see I’ve done it with the delphinium. I’ve done it with everything, so that’s the first thing you need to do, is strip the foliage off the bottom of the stems.

OK, and then you want to get a nice central piece for your hand-tie, so I’ll pick a nice tall delphinium here, OK. And what I’m doing is, I’m just going to be layering the stems across the way, like this. So let’s take some geranium here. I don’t just put it straight up against it, what I’m doing is I’m crossing over, you see how? I’m kind of doing that with it. So it should look a bit like, you know when you get your pasta in your pan and you give it a twist, and it’s a nice little spiral and it just sits in the pan, nicely? Well that’s a similar thing we’re trying to do with the hand-tied bouquet here.

So you take the centre piece, and you layer over, you sort of cross it over. And you always go in the same direction when you’re crossing the stems over. I’ll never then take another stem and go the opposite direction, because I’ll lose that nice spiral effect that I’m going for in the hand-tie. So when it goes into the vase, it just splays out at the bottom and then splays out at the top.

So you always sort of cross the stems like that and then you rotate the bouquet as you’re going. And you just keep layering and layering the flowers over in the same direction, making that cross.

OK, so, there we go, we’ve got the delphinium there. And I’ll put a few more stems of the geranium in. This is going to make, like I say, a nice filler as well as that lovely pink flower in the centre there.

So, there we go. And then we select something different. I’ll maybe just put the eryngium in there, and like I say, I’m just crossing over all the while, and then turning the bouquet as I go.

And then cross over, and then turn the bouquet to put the next one in. So you’re sort of turning the bouquet all the while, and then layering it like a cross.

And then we’ve got some nice Alchemilla here as a nice filler.

And, like I say, it’s got this lovely sort of lime-green foliage on it as well, and a nice yellow little flower, so it makes a lovely filler, the Alchemilla.

I’ll maybe put my peony in now. I’ll put them sort of in between the thistle. And you just keep working your way round, and actually it gets easier the more you have in your hand. It’s more difficult at the start when it’s just one or two stems. But you’ll see it starts to take this spiral effect. You see how it’s splaying out in my hand at the bottom like that. It’s spanning out that way and it’s spanning out that way. And that’s what we’re going for. That’s the look we’re going for.

And you’re always trying to keep your flowers at a sort of similar height here. Obviously there’s tall things in this like the delphinium – so they’re going to stick out through the bouquet – but it’ll be a nice look. But everything else, you kind of want to get it at a, sort of, similar height within the bouquet.

And you just keep adding as you go, and trying to space things so you’re not grouping too much of one thing on one side, you know. That’s why we rotate it and then lay another flower in to it. You’re kind of putting the flowers in, in almost opposite sides, so you’re not getting a big grouping of one flower on one side and then a big grouping of something else on the other side of the bouquet. We want it to look nice and mixed throughout.

So that’s why I’m constantly switching between the flowers I’m selecting as I’m putting them in. I’ll put a few in each time and just keep rotating.

Maybe put in some nice white delphinium now.

And there we go. Starting to come together. Starting to look like a bouquet.

We just keep going. And I’ll give you a close-up of this sort of spiral effect that’s going on in my hand, so you can all see just what I mean. I’ll come round and show you.

So you can see this sort of spiral effect here where it’s all going in the one direction round, and it looks a bit, like I said, a bit like your pasta in your pan when you’d give it a twist and pop it in the saucepan. So that’s what we’re going for.

And I’ll show you, whilst I’m here, I’ll give you a close-up of what I’m doing. So I’m taking my thumb away, and then I can just squeeze another stem in there, but in this direction. I don’t want to do this. So just put it in that direction like that, and then I give the bouquet a twist, move round, and then put the next flower in.

I’ll keep doing that. It’s just a nice mix of colour I’ve got, so it is a really nice, bright, vibrant bouquet this will be – just a real riot of colour.

Put in some Astrantia. Don’t think I’ve got any Astrantia in yet. One of my favourites, I love Astrantia, its lovely little flowers. Very pretty, delicate little thing.

Then keep going round and round.

You might find it easier to hold the bouquet in front of you like this as well, rather than upright. And just twist it round, and you can just layer it on top. It certainly gets easier to do that as the bouquet gets bigger and heavier.

And it does get heavy! [laughs] When you’re holding it for a while, it starts to get heavy, so you’ll want to move fairly quickly because you’ll start to get cramp in your thumb and everything, so you’ll want to move fairly quickly.

And it’s been many years since I’ve done this, so my thumb will probably start cramping up pretty quick, I think. [laughs]

And there we go, not much more to go now.

And if you’ve got a bit of a gap in your bouquet, like I’m starting to form a bit of a gap in the centre here, you can just take a stem and just loosen your grip slightly, and then just gently poke it in where that gap is and it’ll find the natural sort of angle of the bouquet, and it’ll just go in with this spiral. You can always just push things in if you find “oh, there’s a bit of a gap in my bouquet here or here, and I want to plug that with a flower”. You can always just loosen your grip and just push the stem gently in to fill that gap.

Now I’ve got some hosta leaves here too, and I’m in two minds whether to use them or not. I got them purely to line my vase with. That’s something else you can do, if you don’t want to see the stems in the vase. You can, if you’ve got a nice big foliage like a hosta leaf or something, you can just cut them quite short and put them in the vase and line the vase, and then just put the hand-tie in the middle of it. So it just looks quite cool, it looks quite nice in the vase. But I quite like the spiral look in the vase too, so it’s really personal preference, really.

So we’re getting there. My table’s nearly clear of flowers, and my hand’s getting sore, so [laughs] I’m pleased I’m nearly there. Just a few more things to put in.

I’ve also brought over these ferns, and you’re thinking “why’s he not used them yet?”. Well, what I’m going to do with them is I’m going to put a nice collar of flowers round the outside of the bouquet. I don’t know if I said that already, I maybe did. But that’s what I’m going to be doing with the ferns … or leatherleaf they used to call it when I was a florist.

So, there we go. Oh, casualty – that one’s broken.

Ok, now I’ll take the ferns, like I was saying, and I’ll just do this all the way round the edge. And it just frames the bouquet really nicely. You’ll see it really, sort of, come together now.

Like I say, I’m just twisting as I go – just a slight twist in the hand. I’m working my way round.

And there we go. You see, you’ve got this nice collar of ferns that go all the way round. And it’s a lovely, lovely big bouquet.

Now, when I was a florist, a bouquet like that, and we’re going back about 10 years now, that would have cost you, oh, maybe £60-£70 for a bouquet of that sort of size. So, I don’t know what it would cost today, but it would be a good bit more.

So there you go, it’s a lovely bouquet. Like I say, all the flowers have come from the garden. And that’s it.

So then we take our string and tie it up. And as soon as you’ve tied it up, you’ll be relieved that you can put it down. Because, like I say, they do get heavy and your hand does get sore.

So pop the string over the top, and I’m just wrapping that round like that, just a good few times. Now, I can put it down on the bench now the string’s round it, and just tie that up, cut off the excess bits of string.

OK, so there’s my bouquet. Now I want to cut all my stems to the same sort of length, and then pop it in the vase. So you bunch all your stems together, and this is the beauty of making it like a spiral because you can just pull it all together quite nicely, and it’s nice and easy. And then I can just take my secateurs and cut it all to the same length.

Now, I’m being quite brutal here. And once you’ve done that, you want to put an angle cut on them, ideally, because you expose more of the stem that way, and it can take on more water. So I’m just going to go through all the stems and cut them all at a slanted angle, so you expose more of the stem and they take on water better that way.

OK, and then it’s just a case of popping it in my vase. And there we go. That’s that.

I’ll bring the camera over and walk round it, so you can see it better.

So there we go, guys. That’s it. Just a nice hand-tied bouquet made from all the flowers from the garden.

Now, it’s quite warm today, and I cut these flowers probably about half an hour ago, so some of them are just starting to wilt a little bit, like the geranium here, but that will perk up. Five minutes or so, that will be perked right back up again.

So that’s it, guys. I would say, you know, it’s quite easy [laughs], but truth is, it’s not. It does take a bit of practice, but you can see the benefits of it. If you have these nice flowers in your garden, you’ll save yourself a fortune as well.

So, yes, there we go.

Join Fyvie Castle gardener Stuart Stockley for a tutorial on how to create your very own beautiful hand-tied bouquet

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