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Grandmas are wonderful, aren’t they? Speaking from experience, grandmas are the best. My Grandma Ruby and I share a weird affinity for cleaning supplies (we love talking about them!) and I know I can turn to my Grandma Choo for a completely honest and funny piece of advice. Since moving to Seattle and becoming friends with the Buglers (who may have been mentioned here once or twice or, well, numerous times), my theory of wonderful grandmas has only been confirmed. Jon’s mother, who our community group knows as Meg or Grandma Chi, is a woman of many trades. Not only can she make a meal that will knock you off your feet but she also has a knack for flower arranging.

I love flowers. In fact, from the looks of the homestead, I may have an obsession with them. I love receiving them, I love taking pictures of them and I love having arrangements in my home. There are a couple of things that prevent me from keeping them on hand on a regular basis though:

1. They're expensive. I'm pretty sure that my parents spent no less than $50 to surprise me with these.

2. Up until this summer, my efforts of taking flowers from the store and making them look anything-other-than scraggly had been in vain.

As such, when I heard that Grandma Chi was coming into town, I scooped her up and asked if she would teach to make arrangements that weren’t embarrassing to look at. She kindly agreed and asked me what I wanted to do. I really only had two constraints:

1. I didn’t want to spend more than $15.

2. I thought that a monochromatic arrangement would be nice (and may be a little more learner-friendly).

With these goals laid out, Grandma Chi gave me a list of inexpensive flowers to look for (carnations, mums). She also instructed me to pick up some foliage (tree fern or leather leaf) and something with height (larkspur, delphinium, gladiolus, or bells of Ireland).

I started out with trimming some of the gladiolus which were growing in my yard. Nothing beats free flowers, right?

Since the glads were pink, they served as my inspiration to pick out the rest of the flowers. Fred Meyers generally has good prices on their floral bunches. I ended up going a few dollars over my $15 limit because I opted to go for some beautiful Gerbers. Oh, Gerbers, you always get me...

When I arrived at the Buglers, Moi told me that Grandma Chi and one of her B's had gone looking for foliage in the alley. Grandma Chi was excited to use the leather leaf which was naturally in large supply as it's not readily available in her home state of New York. Hooray!

With our foliage and flowers on hand, Grandma Chi, B, and I started our flower arranging lesson.

We started with vases full of room temperature water and the flower food provided with the bunches I had bought. Grandma Chi nixed the idea of pennies serving as a means to make flowers last longer. She did mention that lemon-lime soda will work in a pinch though.

We then started with our foliage. One of the most important tools to have on hand when making arrangements is a sturdy knife.

To start our arrangement, Grandma Chi showed me how to carefully arrange the foliage in the vase ensuring that the stems criss-cross. Doing this will provide support for the focal flowers which would be placed later.

Before we actually got to place the flowers, Grandma Chi showed me the correct way to trim the stems. Using the sharp knife (instead of kitchen shears which I had done up until this point), Grandma Chi explained how the knife should make contact with the stem at a slant. Pushing firmly with the knife, the hand holding the knife should pull stem away until there's a clean cut. According to Grandma Chi, mastering this takes a bit of practice as it's not that natural. I'd add that it takes confidence. Psst: don't you love B's intense learning posture?

The gladiolus served as my arrangements armature. Grandma Chi placed these at an appealing height, interweaving the stems into the framework previously created by the foliage.

The spider mums and Gerbers were added next as focal flowers. We played around with the placement of these quite a bit. An important tip from Grandma Chi? Place your flowers first to determine the appropriate height and then trim them.

Finally, the miniature carnations were added to fill in negative space. Tada!

I had a blast learning how to take supermarket flowers and make them into a presentation-worthy arrangement. Admittedly, this little bouquet made it’s way to work, back home, and then into my bedroom where I enjoyed it for ~10 days. The wonderment didn’t stop there, though. Upon going to community group a couple of weeks later, Moi pulled me into the kitchen and presented me with the following:

After returning to New York, Grandma Chi put together a little flower arranging care package for me! (!!!) The contents? Flower Arranging: Step-By-Step Instructions for Everyday Designs by Teresa P. Lanker, a Swiss army knife, and floral bags!

Now, seriously… aren’t grandmas the best?! Thanks Grandma Chi! ♥


Have you ever tried your hand at flower arranging? How’d it go?