Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Summer's End Tea Party: floral table centrepiece

I walked out the back door yesterday morning with our dogs and pussy cats in tow.  As we wandered around the backyard, looking for some flowers for my next project, I realised that summer is coming to an end.  Not a flower was in sight except for some ground cover primulas so I went out to the front of the house where the roses reside - not a single bud.

Well, there was one more little garden that I hadn't checked - the vegetable garden.  Admittedly it has been a little neglected, but the sturdy little herbs and leafy greens have soldiered on despite the lack of water.  So I trotted back around to the back of the house and found miracle of miracles: the only flowers with stems in the whole garden. 

Can you see the little froggie sitting on the pebble?

The baby spinach leaf provided me with a lovely purple daisy-like flower and the mint bush had a cone shaped end full of minute little flowers - very sweet.  What to do, what to do....

They kind of reminded me of something you would find in an English field, growing wild.  Inspired, I dug out the assortment of butterflies, frogs and ladybirds I had in my little nature drawer, collected from various craft and discount stores over the years.

The Japanese box hedge was perfect to make the greenery for the 'ground cover' of the arrangement (and it was due for a mini trim anyway!).   

Summer's End Table Centrepiece Recipe:
  • 3 stalks of baby spinach with mauve flowers.
  • 4 stalks of mint with flowers
  • Japanese box stems (as many as you need to cover the bottom of your container) - or any shrub with a small leaf
  • artificial butterflies, frogs and ladybirds (discount/floral supply/craft stores) or whatever appeals to you in the small insect/amphibian/mini bird category.  You can often find plastic frogs etc. in the toy area of discount stores at a very reasonable price.
  • 2 pieces of floral foam (discount/floral supply/craft stores), or as much as you need to fill your container.  You can use small pebbles instead to fill the dish and stick the stems into.
  • low ceramic waterproof dish (could be a small baking dish - or large if you want to make a statement).
  • couple of smooth pebbles for the frogs to sit on.
  • knife to cut the foam to size for the dish
  • scissors
  • floral adhesive - which is basically a very strong blu/glue tack for attaching insects, frogs etc.
  • green stem wires (floral supply/craft stores) for attaching the butterflies.
  • a wooden skewer to make holes in the floral foam for the softer stems.

Drop your floral foam into a bucket of water and let it sink to the bottom.  I've noticed that some foam blocks sink faster than others - depends on the brand.  When you cut it open it should be wet through.  Cut the foam to fit your receptacle and just cut extra little bits to fill in any gaps.  It doesn't matter if it looks messy, it will all be hidden. 

Cut your stems to the desired lengths and remove the larger leaves from the bottom of the spinach stems.   Cut your Japanese box stems down so that each stem looks quite short, as above.  Really you are making many little sprigs out of the stems.  You may need to use your trusty skewer to make holes for the cuttings of newer growth as they tend to be quite soft.

Once you have covered all the floral foam with the mini box leaves, start placing your flowering spinach stems and mint stems where you think they look aesthetically pleasing, taking into consideration where all the other elements will be put.   

Put a little floral adhesive/blu tack on the back of the frog and attach to a stone that you have placed in amongst the leaves on the bottom of your receptacle.  Attach the butterflies to the upper part of the stem wires and arrange upright amongst the mint and spinach stems so that the wires aren't too obvious.

If you don't have blu tack you can attach the butterflies by firmly winding a bit of cotton around the middle of the butterfly and the stem wire.  My butterflies had magnets already attached to their backs so they attached easily to the green metal wires.  You could probably getaway with wedging the butterflies between the leaves and flowers if you wanted to.

Remember to top up the water in your receptacle once you have it in place.

The baby spinach leaf plant had grown quite high and collapsed so that it had an interesting curve to it when I took the cuttings - it looks quite wind blown.

Here is my little lady bird friend which I also attached with floral adhesive/blu tack.

If you can't find any little creatures in the craft stores that take your fancy, you could always colour and cut out your own insects for the summer 'field''. 

Farewell summer.

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