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The colors of spring are calling to you. Bright crocuses, daffodils, and tulips awaken your frigid brain, from the dull white and grays of late winter. Finally! You just want to roll around in a patch of dandelions. This want, when dusk falls and a chill creeps over, becomes a need. You need to bring a bit of spring inside.
I decided to bring some of that color into my home. I ventured to the yard where daffodils swayed in the breeze, plucked a few from the ground, bunched them with twine, dropped them in a vase. Simple. Uninspired. It worked. But I realized, I needed more. I needed advice.
Luckily, my friend Abbie Turner in Ephraim knows how to work with what the northeast Wisconsin dirt offers. After giving birth to her daughter, Treana, she wondered, “What else can I grow?” For three years she’s been growing flowers with the help of her fiancé Stewart Birmingham – from sweet peas to peonies – and designing lush, bold, and unique arrangements and bouquets. She knows a bit about what she’s doing.
“How do you go about putting stuff together?” I ask, ‘stuff’ being ‘flowers.’
She rises from her chair, pulls a vase down from a shelf, and sets it on a lazy Susan. “Then I can see all around,” she explains. “And then I put some chicken wire at the bottom to keep the flowers in place, and start filling in the blank space with some greenery.” She likes odd numbers. She likes layers. She likes “to get big with it.”
I take note. “And is it okay to pick flowers not grown on one’s property?” I ask. She’s all about a walk through wildflowers for inspiration, for a personal arrangement. “I love wildflowers, like Queen Anne’s Lace – every stage is beautiful. I love going for a bike ride with Treana and seeing the elements of the season.” But she wouldn’t sell wildflowers. “You can’t trust their vase life.” She also says, “you have to be careful about picking protected species,” such as trilliums and lady slippers. Done.
She sends me off with a book, a hug, and a few more tips: “Always cut the stems at an angle, change the water daily, and do not put an arrangement in direct sunlight.”
I return to my swaying daffodils and tulips with a scissors in hand. I will not bunch up the same species of flowers this time, no, I will “go big!” I cut a few branches from a bush, grab some bold color combinations, and start arranging: first the branches, then the tulips, then the daffodils. Sounds easier than I’d like to admit it was. I spent a good 20 minutes adjusting the length of the stems, playing with the placement of the branches, but I’ll admit – I was pretty pleased with the results!
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