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Fall Wedding Wildflower Bouquets


My dear friend Laura was married at the end of September. I offered to help out by arranging her wedding flowers, a task I was a little nervous about because, as we all know, flower options become a bit more limited the farther you get into the Fall season. However, Laura was incredibly easygoing about the flowers and pretty much gave me the criteria of “I just want something pretty.”

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-6-575x382.jpg "Wildflower Wedding (6)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-6/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

The wedding was held at a little local church on a college campus, with a river running along one side–idyllic right? The reception was held just down the road at Meredith Valley Farms, this venue has some of the most beautiful views of the Tennessee hills I have ever seen. The weather was a bit stormy throughout the afternoon but you would have never known by looking at the joy on the bride and groom’s faces as well as the sheer happiness on the faces of all those in attendance.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-wedding-4-575x382.jpg "Wildflower wedding (4)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-4/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

Because of the simple and natural elements involved in this wedding, we decided to make the bouquets and arrangements very natural and free–everything you might think of when it comes to wildflowers. All of the flowers came from Linda’s farm, Aunt Willies Wildflowers.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-wedding-3.jpg "Wildflower wedding (3)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-3/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

Hannah Bader, a friend of mine and local photographer, served as their wedding photographer and snapped a couple of photos for me at the service. Hannah’s photography includes weddings, portraits, and events. She approaches her photography from a photo-journalistic/environmental portraiture approach. The following are just a few of the photos she took downstairs as I was finishing some final bouquet details (more photos to come).

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-575x359.jpg "Wildflower Wedding")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

If you live in East Tennessee and are looking for a great photographer, be sure to check out Hannah’s portfolio on facebook (under Hannah Bader), or contact her by phone at (423)-342-0255 or by email at bader.hannah@gmail.com.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/IMG_6501edit-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/img_6501edit/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

See corsages from this wedding at Farmstyle Wedding Corsage.

Here are a few more photos from Hannah.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-2-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (2)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-2/) Photo by: Hannah Bader
[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-3-575x862.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (3)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-3/) Photo by: Hannah Bader
[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-1-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (1)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-1/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

Fall Wedding Wildflower Bouquets


My dear friend Laura was married at the end of September. I offered to help out by arranging her wedding flowers, a task I was a little nervous about because, as we all know, flower options become a bit more limited the farther you get into the Fall season. However, Laura was incredibly easygoing about the flowers and pretty much gave me the criteria of “I just want something pretty.”

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-6-575x382.jpg "Wildflower Wedding (6)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-6/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

The wedding was held at a little local church on a college campus, with a river running along one side–idyllic right? The reception was held just down the road at Meredith Valley Farms, this venue has some of the most beautiful views of the Tennessee hills I have ever seen. The weather was a bit stormy throughout the afternoon but you would have never known by looking at the joy on the bride and groom’s faces as well as the sheer happiness on the faces of all those in attendance.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-wedding-4-575x382.jpg "Wildflower wedding (4)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-4/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

Because of the simple and natural elements involved in this wedding, we decided to make the bouquets and arrangements very natural and free–everything you might think of when it comes to wildflowers. All of the flowers came from Linda’s farm, Aunt Willies Wildflowers.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-wedding-3.jpg "Wildflower wedding (3)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-3/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

Hannah Bader, a friend of mine and local photographer, served as their wedding photographer and snapped a couple of photos for me at the service. Hannah’s photography includes weddings, portraits, and events. She approaches her photography from a photo-journalistic/environmental portraiture approach. The following are just a few of the photos she took downstairs as I was finishing some final bouquet details (more photos to come).

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-575x359.jpg "Wildflower Wedding")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

If you live in East Tennessee and are looking for a great photographer, be sure to check out Hannah’s portfolio on facebook (under Hannah Bader), or contact her by phone at (423)-342-0255 or by email at bader.hannah@gmail.com.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/IMG_6501edit-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/img_6501edit/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

See corsages from this wedding at Farmstyle Wedding Corsage.

Here are a few more photos from Hannah.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-2-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (2)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-2/) Photo by: Hannah Bader
[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-3-575x862.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (3)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-3/) Photo by: Hannah Bader
[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-1-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (1)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-1/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

Pink & Burgundy Altar Arrangement


I feel like I say this every week but yesterday’s farm flowers were gorgeous! Seriously. Kristin took eight buckets of flowers to a wedding in Virginia. You would think with eight buckets gone we wouldn’t have many left to work with but that was not the case. Instead, we (Linda and I) made a record amount of market bouquets–a grand total of 50 (trust me, that’s a lot).

Linda asked if I wanted to make an arrangement for the altar on Sunday and I, of course, jumped on board immediately. It was really hard to not make something beautiful with the array of flowers we had to work with.

pink & burgundy altar arrangement

This pink and burgundy arrangement is my finished product and I must say, I love it! Pitcher arrangements like these are perfect for a country wedding or for simply taking to church on Sunday to share with others.

Here’s how this pitcher arrangement came to be:

First I started with the large limelight hydrangea. I cut them down to size and angled one toward each side of the pitcher and one smaller one a bit higher in the back to provide a “back” to the bouquet (a place where the eye will stop looking).

Next, I added several bunches of dark pink lisianthus buds. These pop against the creamy-white hydrangeas and serve as a great filler since the mouth of my pitcher is so wide.

Then I added two stems of lilies, one low and one higher, each angled a separate direction.I also added a pink and white gladiola semi-centered. The lisianthus serve as support for keeping the lilies and gladiola securely in place.

Finally I filled in the gaps. Down low I added trailing amaranthus (that’s the pretty burgundy spilling over the edge), I also added bits of white and green filler (poke weed, grasses), a couple green/cream lisianthus and hot pink dianthus.

pink & burgundy altar arrangement

Arrangements like these are fairly simple to create if you stick to a specific order when combining your flowers–heavy bulky stems first, delicate flowers next supported by the larger flowers, then smaller pops of color, collar greenery and delicate accents.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini-flower-arrangement lesson. Try your own pitcher arrangement at home, all it takes is a few stems from your own backyard.


Ribbon Braid Bouquet DIY


Wedding bouquets are by far my favorite flower piece to arrange. There are multiple factors to consider when planning a bridal bouquet. Many brides put all their creativity and thought into the flower type and completely forget to adorn the bouquet handle. Adding a bit of glam to the bouquet handle is simple and can make a huge impact. One of my favorite handle wrap techniques is the classic braid adorned with pearl corsage pins. This is the braid technique I used on last week’s bridal brooch bouquet? This simple classic braid is simple, elegant and fail-safe.

bridal brooch bouquet

Preparation:

Arrange your flowers and tie with a rubber band close to the neck. Cover the rubber band with green floral tape, then proceed down the stems as far as you want your braid to run. Leave at least 1 inch of the stems exposed at the bottom. If you want to cover the entire bottom of the stems as well, you need to wait until the day of or find some really great ribbon that won’t fall out of place after being soaked in water all night.

Choose your ribbon, a medium width is best. Place your bouquet on it’s side with the “front” facing you (the side that will not face the bride). If you are braiding up the majority of the stems, use 1 entire roll of ribbon. You may end up cutting some off at the end but it is better than running short and this technique uses much more ribbon than you might think.

brooch bouquet and braid

The Braid:

Step #1: Starting at the bottom of your stems, wrap the ribbon around the back of the stem bundle and even up the two sides of ribbon. Hold the ribbons up toward you and taut.

Step #2: Cross the ribbons, one in front of the other two times. You are basically switching the ribbon from your left hand to your right and back again. You should have a twisted tangle of ribbon now. Now pull the ribbons to their separate sides, this should move something resembling a knot down toward the stems.

Step #3: Cross your ribbons around the back of the stems to switch their sides. Repeat the crossing in front by once again crossing the two strands around each other twice then pulling the strands away from each other to move the knot down.

Step #4: As you tighten each “knot,” try to keep them in line with one another and make sure you are overlapping the ribbon all the way up the stems so there are no gaps.

Step #5: Continue to braid your ribbon to the neck of the flowers and finish the braid by either tying a knot or a bow. If you have extra ribbon, measure the strands to the end of your bouquet stems and cut each at an angle.

Step #6: Using short corsage pins, place one at the base of each knot to dress up your braid. Push the pins in and up so they don’t poke out the other side of the stem bundle and stab the bride.

bridesmaid ribbon mini braidWhile the bride may enjoy having a full braid that covers the entire length of the stems, bridesmaids often opt for the mini-braid which covers only a portion of the bouquet handle. This technique (seen in the picture at right) follows the same steps but it is only necessary to wrap a small portion of the stem with floral tape–just enough to cover the rubber band.

I hope these pictures are helpful. Ribbon braiding really is a very simple and quick process. As always, please let me know if you have any questions.


Silver & Gold Brooch Bouquet


Remember those beautiful brooches I mentioned in my sneak peak bridal bouquet post last week? Well, I have finally managed to pull all of that gorgeous jewelry together into one stunning bridal brooch bouquet.

bridal brooch bouquet

This being my first attempt at a brooch bouquet, I am quite pleased with the finished product. I cannot take all of the credit however, the lovely bride did an absolutely fantastic job of picking out all of the brooches for her bouquet. At first, I wasn’t sure how it was all going to come together as she had a wide array of metals and gemstones included in the mix, but her creative instincts paid off and the jewelry came together beautifully.

The hardest part of this bouquet (which I didn’t have to do) would definitely be the wiring of the brooches. In order to make one of these bouquets you need to take floral wire or some other sturdy wire and loop it around the clasps on each individual brooch. The tricky part is wiring the brooches well enough that they will remain upright and sturdy. The more time you take to wire the brooches carefully, the easier it will be to assemble your bouquet. You may also want to use hot glue underneath the brooch where you attach the wire to help secure the wire more sturdily to the clasp.

Take three strong hydrangeas. We used fake ones which I highly recommend if you are making a full bouquet like the one pictured. This bouquet is very heavy so you will need the heavy weight of fake flowers to support all of the brooches. If you prefer a bouquet with intermittent brooches, you can use live hydrangea and add other live flowers into the mix to help fill holes and support the jewelry.

Cut your fake hydrangea stems the length that you want your bouquet to be. I use a large mason jar as my guide, placing the flowers inside you want the bottom edge of the flowers to rest gently on the top edge of the jar (or whatever vase you will use at the reception).

brooch bouquet

Wrap your hydrangea stems together with floral tape (no need to wrap all the way down, just secure them together).

Now comes the fun part. Poke each of your wired brooches through the tops of the hydrangea petals until they rest gently on top of your flowers. Continue to add brooches one by one until you have covered the tops and sides of your hydrangeas.

Once all the brooches are in place, carefully wrap all wire stems together using floral tape. At this point, the bouquet is very heavy so you may want to ask a friend to hold it as you wrap.

bridalbroochbraid

Once the stems are wrapped all the way to the bottom. Grab your ribbon and cover the floral tape with whichever ribbon wrap style you prefer. I will post a tutorial for the classic braid shown in these pictures next Friday.

I hope you’ve found these instructions helpful. As always let me know if you have any questions or if I need to clarify any steps.


Bridal Brooch Bouquet Sneak Peek


For today’s floral post I thought I would share a sneak peak into my latest wedding project. One of our bride’s asked if we could arrange her bouquet, no surprise there. The catch? Not a flower bouquet.

brooch bouquet

Have you seen these beautiful heirloom brooch bouquets? There are many varieties of brooch bouquets and personally, I think they are absolutely exquisite.

brooch bouquet

I really can’t express how excited I am to put this bouquet together. I’ll be posting the finished pictures on the blog very very soon so stay tuned.

brooch bouquet

These are just a few of the wonderful brooches I get to work with. Don’t you wish this was your job?

brooch bouquet


Sweet Pink Bouquet + Herbs


For this week’s Friday at the Farm, we had our first bridal luncheon of the summer. In fact, the only bridal luncheon on the books this year. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this event, Linda gives our brides the option of having a bridal luncheon the day before their wedding. This luncheon allows the bride and bridesmaids to relax on the farm for a couple of hours and basically play with flowers. Sounds nice, right?!

pink bridesmaid bouquet

We teach the ladies how to arrange their bouquets for the big day and, of course, help them as needed. Some brides and bridesmaids are quick to catch on to the techniques involved in hand-held-bouquet-making, others prefer to have us shape the bulk of their arrangement–either way, the bridal luncheons are fun for all.

pink bridesmaid bouquet

Linda and I also arranged market bouquets following the luncheon festivities. Here is one of my favorite arrangements from the day. I also found a fantastic new picture spot on the farm–love this lighting.

Arrangement: sweet peas, decorative sage, dianthus, mountain mint (smells SO good), oregano, goose neck


Farmer’s Market Flower Bouquets


Today was another glorious Friday out at Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers. With no weddings on the books this weekend, we were able to devote ourselves fully to the task of arranging bucket upon bucket of market bouquets for the Kingsport Farmer’s Market. Linda’s customers will be SO happy.

Beautiful flowers to work with, beautiful weather to work in, beautiful scenery surrounding our work space, all in all a fantastic way to end the week. Here are a few photos of the flowers we had to work with this week.

farmer's market cut flower bouquet

farmer's market cut flower bouquet

farmer's market cut flower bouquet

farmer's market cut flower bouquet


Wedding + Flower Girl Headband


This past week, the flower farm crew learned to stretch our imaginations a little bit farther than usual. This was the first time we were asked to arrange two weddings on the same day, and to make it a bit more interesting…two vastly different color palettes and settings.

Wedding #1: flowy, wild & bright; different flowers for each bouquet, outdoor wedding
Flowers: grasses, mint, sunflowers, larkspur, black-eyed susans, lilies, bells of ireland, feverfew, campanula, and more.

Wedding #2: neat, rounded bouquets, specific color pallet: periwinkle and raspberry, continuity across bouquets& arrangements
Flowers: blue, white and pink hydrangea (we even spray-painted a few–yes, this is an option), hot pink roses, snapdragons, holly, feverfew

We also made a grand total of 23 boutonnieres this week (trust me, that’s a lot).

Flower Girl Headband Bright Colors

Although vastly different in flowers and setting, both weddings were quite beautiful. My absolute favorite part of arranging these weddings, however, was the flower girl headbands. And, of course, I never took a finished photo of the pieces (grr). However, if you will excuse the sad, unfinished photos I can show you the headbands minus the ribbon.

I picked up these plastic headbands with a thin layer of foam on top in Walmart’s craft section for $1.17. To attach the flowers, I simply arranged two small grouping of flowers and greens in my hand and wrapped the stems with florist tape, as you would a boutonniere.

Next, I placed the larger grouping higher on the side of the headband, stem-ends facing down (toward your ear) and attached it to the headband by wrapping the stems to the band with florist tape. Then I took the smaller grouping and attached it to the band with stems facing up (toward the top of your head) and sort-of wedged under the flowers of the first grouping. So, the two flower bunches are facing each other (you can see the shape we are going for in the photo of Kristin’s yellow headband).

Flower Girl headband muted colors

The last step, not shown here, is to wrap the ribbon of your choosing around the rest of the head band. I made a small knot under the edge of the flowers on each side (so it can’t be seen) and continued to wrap down toward the ends of the headband where I tied off the ribbon with another small knot.

I know that sounds a bit confusing but once you start the process, it comes pretty naturally. The brightly-colored headband is the one I made, the muted yellow one was made by my good friend Kristin who keeps me sane on those days I can’t seem to find a rhythm to my arranging. Don’t we all need one of those friends? I hope this has been an enjoyable read for you. Best of luck!


Bold & Bright Wedding Arrangement


Hello friends, Jack and I just got back from a mini-vacation to see the family–at least some of them. So, to make up for missing Floral Friday, here is a little post on a beautiful and bold wedding arrangement made for a bright wedding two weeks ago.

Seriously, isn’t this arrangement gorgeous?!

Bright Wedding Flower Arrangement

I can’t get over how simple and breathtaking these flowers are, and so simple. Some of my favorite flowers are the ones that grow in mixed colors, you see this effect with flowers like Dahlias, which no one can deny they are beautiful. However, there is something about the pure colors–especially pure and bold like this arrangement.

This arrangement began in a pastel-colored pitcher but we discovered white was the only way to go. The flowers are gorgeous on their own and a colored pitcher didn’t make as big of a statement. Here’s another picture for you.

Stems:

Pink Peonies
Magenta Snapdragons
White Snapdragons
Blue Delphinium
Sunflowers
Hosta Leaves
Bells of Ireland
Ornamental Grasses

Arrangement:

This arrangement starts out a bit different from what I normally recommend. There is not much filler used so I would start with your tall stems that are used most, in this case the snapdragons. Next, add in the little bit of filler–Bells of Ireland (the green things that look like bells–just in case you needed help with that).

Bright Wedding Flower Arrangement

Now we need to focus on pulling the eye downward. Start by placing pink peonies low in the arrangement, nearly to the vase rim. The sunflowers have large stems so I would cut those lower than the snaps but higher than the peonies. Make sure you don’t cut them all the exact same height, you want these to be varied throughout the middle third of the arrangement height. Add these next since they will fill large holes and take up much of the vase space.

Now you can add the delicate-stemmed delphinium for beautiful pops of bluish-purple color. Finally add the Hosta leaves around the rim of the vase, as if cradling the peonies. Hosta leaves give the eye an end point for the arrangement.


Baby Shower Flowers + Painted Jars


Occasion: Baby Shower with Unknown Baby Gender

Use this bouquet as inspiration for a baby shower with an unknown baby gender.

Stems:

pink/burgundy dianthus
burgundy ranunculi
yellow ranunculi
yellow stock
blue baptisia

Arranging:

Begin with the dianthus as they are both sturdy and full so they will take up much of the empty space allowing you to strategically place the more delicate stems.

Next, add your contrasting colors, I put in two stems of yellow stock, one for height and color and a second to make the bouquet even. Accent the stock with yellow ranunculi spread throughout the arrangement in lower areas.

Fill any holes with the burgundy ranunculi. Pairing different flowers of similar colors in one bouquet gives the arrangement texture and dimension. Finally, add the tall stem(s) of baptisia. More stems of baptisia will give you a more obvious boy/girl theme or you can find another bluish flower to add to the mix like ageratum.

paintedballjar

Centerpiece:

Take four ball jars (or a variety of used jars from your pantry) and paint the inside of each with a different pastel shade: yellow, blue, pink, green, etc. If you don’t have any pastel paints on hand, just mix each color with white until you reach the desired shade.

The first coat does a good job of filling in all white/clear space on the jar, however, if placed in the light it shows the stroke lines of your brush. I tried using a normal painter’s brush as well as one of those Styrofoam tipped brushes, but the regular brush worked much better. Wait 20 minutes for the first coat to dry before painting a second coat that hides the original brush strokes.

Make arrangements to place in your painted jars from the flowers listed above. Add three hosta leaves around the jar rims to form a collar. Group the jars in the center of the table for a beautiful bold centerpiece.

Painting the jars took about 30 minutes total so don’t be deterred by the extra effort of painting clear jars instead of buying colored vases/jars. Trust me, the extra time is well worth your efforts and will not go unnoticed.


Mother’s Day + Small Tribute


Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. Today is one of my favorite days because I love my mother so very much and I love having an entire day set aside for the sole purpose of honoring and celebrating her life, the sacrifices she has made and the person she is today.

My mom was recently offered a job in the Chicago area, a career opportunity of a lifetime for her. After much deliberation and conversation with my father, they decided she should take advantage of this opportunity, even though it means leaving my dad back home in Oregon until he can retire.

While this decision may sound crazy to most, and at times to our little family as well, I couldn’t be more proud of my mom. None of the decisions she and my father had to make regarding this position were easy. Moving across the U.S. to live alone, leaving the home you’ve poured so much time and effort into in exchange for a small apartment, trading the beautiful greenery and mountain settings of Oregon for the “concrete jungle” of a big city, and of course leaving behind all those you love most to pursue a dream that may or may not pan out…

I know many of you understand what it takes to make difficult decisions like these so you understand what must have gone into making the final decision to move. Despite all the so-called-craziness of this move, I am so proud that my mom took the job. She recognized the rut she was in, the day-in-day-out dead end job (you know the kind), and she took a chance. A very big chance. Decisions like these are the ones that make me respect my mother. Of course, no parent is ever perfect but it is always in the critical moments that I truly appreciate the example she sets.

My mother didn’t just tell my sister and I to follow our dreams and shoot for the stars, she didn’t just tell us to hold our heads high and put forth our best effort, she didn’t just tell us how to be strong confident women–she showed us. She showed us all these things when we were young and she continues to show us still today.

I am so proud of my mom and so grateful for her presence in my life, a gift not all can claim. I am grateful for the example she has set for me throughout the years, the encouragement she gives through every endeavor I undertake, the pride she takes in her family and in her work, her adventurous spirit and her persistent attitude. I am grateful that my mom has taught me to be confident in who I am, be proud of where I come from and to never give up on my dreams.

Thank you mom for all you do and all you have done for our family throughout the years. You do not go unnoticed. We love you more and more each and every day.


How to Preserve Peonies


We all have those favorite flowers, you know the ones you wait anxiously for all year and then it seems as soon as they bloom they wilt away once more. For me, the gorgeous peony is the flower I most look forward to at the beginning of the flower season. Unfortunately, it seems these flowers are gone before I can be out on the farm enjoying their beauty.

peonies

Linda, however, has taught me a few tricks for making peonies last. The peony is a popular flower for weddings so every year we make these beauties last a bit longer by cutting them early and letting them hibernate in the fridge for a few weeks.

For those of you who want to save your peonies for a big event or simply want to keep them around longer to brighten up your home, you can follow these simple steps to preserving peonies.
_
How to Preserve Peonies:_

1.) Cut peonies when they are in the “marshmallow” stage. Squeeze the bud and if it feels like a marshmallow, they are ready to cut and store. The image below is just before marshmallow stage.

2.) Next, place a bunch of peony stems in double-layered newspaper. The image below is marshmallow stage.

3.) Wrap the newspaper around the stems.

4.) Place in a refrigerator to hibernate up to 1 month.

When you pull the peonies out again, they will look slightly less perfect than when you put them in but just place them in water and in a few hours they will start to open up. The only downside to preserving peonies is that their shelf-life post-refrigeration is less than if they were freshly cut–about two days.

Let us know if you have any questions!


Guest Post: Photographing Details


To continue our weekend focus on those pretty little details, here is another incredible guest post from Kira of Kira Noble Photography. This article teaches the amateur photographer how to turn those decent pictures into works of art. Be sure to head over to Kira’s website and show her some love.

Details, details, details! I have noticed that in the past few years the detail elements of a wedding day have become increasingly important to brides, wedding planners and photographers. If you look at any wedding style blogs, like Style Me PrettyOnce WedGreen Wedding Shoes and countless others, the photography featured revolves around how to implement fantastic detail and intricacy into a wedding or event.

As a wedding photographer I realized that I needed to learn quickly how to take the kind of photos that would highlight and pay tribute to the details every bride, florist and wedding coordinator spend countless hours creating.
Of course at the end of the day, the photo of the “first kiss” is more important to my client than the cool photograph of the cupcake tower or bouquets. However, details seam together the story of the day, revealing something about the bride and groom, and hopefully reminding them of the depth of their wedding day.

Although I have certainly not mastered how to take detail shots, I have learned a lot in the past few years and thought I would share some specifics of what I’ve learned here with you. Even if you’re not a photographer these techniques can apply to any detail photo you may want to take. From taking photos of your latest creation in the kitchen, to the flowers blooming in your garden to the next event you attend or host.

1) Find good light- The first thing to do is make sure you have great natural light. Seriously, light can make the difference between a mediocre photograph and a photo that makes you sigh! Sometimes this will mean moving the object of your photograph from its original location (if possible) to a location with better light. The photo below is from a wedding I recently shot. I was taking photos of the reception details and took this photo of the tiered cookie stand. The first one was taken in the afternoon (before anyone came into the reception) and I didn’t have time to move it to better light. It is dark and although it works, it is not the best photo. Later in the evening the room was filled with lovely light and I got this photograph of the same detail.

2) Remove anything distracting- I learned this tip from Jasmine Star in her first creative live workshop. She encouraged photographers to move anything that would “cheapen” the photo. Feel free to move things like salt and pepper, serving utensils and sugar packets from a table. And of course, put them back after you get the photo you need. Before I heard Jasmine talk about this, I was too afraid to touch or move anything on the wedding day. I didn’t want to mess anything up. However, once I had the confidence to remove distracting items from my frame, my photos of flowers and tables settings started looking more like something you could find in a magazine. Holla!

3) Use surrounding environment- Use your environment to add interest to your photograph. First take a few photos of your object and then take a step back. What else in the room can you use to your advantage? Is there a window that can act as a natural frame for your object? Are there other elements already in the room that you can add to your photograph to make it tell a story? An example of this is in the photos below. I took these photos this summer at Jackson and Shayla’s wedding. Shayla got ready at her parents beautiful home. I started out the day taking photos of her jewelry, shoes, dress and makeup. I wanted close-up photos of her hair-piece and rings and I started out in a spot I thought had good light, but the background was a little boring. Then I saw the antique books sitting on the coffee table. I moved the rings and hair-piece and immediately the photos took on more life. The books, wood tray and burlap added texture the photograph was missing.

4) Lower your perspective-- This one is simple. To diversify your the kind of detail shots you take, simply change up your angle and perspective. At first, I simply shot a table setting by standing above it and shooting down. While this type of perspective can yield good photos, changing your angle or getting “low” can capture the setting and mood in a much stronger way. The photos below are from Dani and Tyson’swedding last summer. One was shot from above, the other I shot by getting on my knees and getting “eye level” with the table.

5) Shoot wide-open- In my opinion, one of the best ways to get strong detail shots is to shoot with your camera set at a low f-stop. (Click HEREto read a great explanation about aperture and f-stops.) By shooting “wide-open” you not only get the most out of all the pretty light, your detail will stand out and you’ll achieve that cool “drop-off” effect. Below are a few detail photos that I shot wide open and the settings.

85mm 1.8 1/30 and ISO 250

50mm 1.8 1/320 ISO 400

Grab your camera and start shooting!

{the cute vintage fabric tape is from Pugly Pixel. Find them HERE.}


Pin Away With Me: Week #1


I’ve decided to jump on board with the thousands of bloggers sharing their “Week of Pinterest” ideas. It seems silly not to considering most of my blogging ideas are inspired by pins. If you haven’t had a chance to join the pinning movement, I highly suggest you jump on the bandwagon and start enjoying hours of pinned inspiration.

Be forewarned, Pinterest is highly addictive. Check out our boards by clicking the “P” in the right column.

This week’s pinning delights include the following:

1.) Table Arrangement from The Found Blog
2.) Blackberry Red Wine Chocolate Cake from the kitchn
3.) Linen closet organization from Martha Stewart
4.) Chicken baskets from Carina-forum
5.) Yarn Containers from Denise in Bloom
6.) Beautiful Basket Favors from minha filha vai casar

Happy Pinning!


Fall is in the Air


This past week I found myself welcoming Fall with open arms, hazelnut coffee, and sweaters! Oh the sweaters. My poor husband has heard little else this past week other than, I need more sweaters (need being a bit of an exaggeration). The point is, I love sweaters. Moving on.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2011/09/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-013-575x381.jpg "Sunflower, Pink Dahlia")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2011/09/fall-is-in-the-air/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-013/) Sunflower, Pink Dahlia

The only disappointing part of fall is when I walk out onto my porch to find all of my flowers fading away. I love flowers, just about as much as I love my sweaters, so it is always unfortunate to realize I won’t be seeing their beautiful petals for 3-6 months (depending on location).

[![](jekyll_uploads/2011/09/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-018-575x381.jpg "Delphinium, Mountain Mint, Sedum")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2011/09/fall-is-in-the-air/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-018/) Delphinium, Mountain Mint, Sedum

On that note…I decided to share a few pictures of the last Saturday Market bouquets I helped make (just in case you are missing your flowers too). These bouquets were from 3 or 4 weeks ago.

I hope these bouquets bring a little bit of joy to your day. Stay tuned for a very exciting, 3 day baking project I recently completed for the Daring Baker challenge. Big reveal on the 27th!

Happy Fall!

[![](jekyll_uploads/2011/09/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-020-575x381.jpg "Tuberose, Shasta Daisies, Limelight Hydrangea, Gladiola, Goldenrod ")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2011/09/fall-is-in-the-air/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-020/) Tuberose, Shasta Daisies, Limelight Hydrangea, Gladiola, Goldenrod

Munsey Wedding


The past two weekends have been full of wedding frenzy. Two weekends ago, I helped out a friend by coordinating her special day and this past weekend, Kristin and I hosted a bridal luncheon for a sweet bride out at the farm. Linda was on a family vacation so it was up to us to plan the luncheon, cater, and put together the arrangements for the wedding. So, although busy, it has been a fun two weeks. I’m now thinking my nursing degree may be the financial backing for an event planning/flower arranging/catering hobby, if indeed you can call that a “hobby.” Now I just need some clients.

Anyways, back to the wedding…the ceremony was held at Munsey United Methodist Church, which has one of the most exquisite sanctuaries (see below). The bride was very laid back (which we always appreciate) and was happy to use whatever was blooming on the farm for the arrangements. Lucky for her, there are lots and lots of beautiful flowers blooming on the farm right now.

We tied shepherd’s hooks to the ends of the aisles with raffia and hung ball jars on each filled with a variety of wildflowers. The sanctuary is very large and to line every row with flowers, although exquisite, would have been very expensive. Instead, we adorned every other aisle for the first 10 rows. I was worried the flowers might get lost in the sanctuary but was pleasantly surprised with the finished result.

Here’s a close-up of one of our ball jars for you.

The front of the sanctuary has a set of stairs, followed by a choir loft and then a back altar area, all very intricate. In order to not have the main arrangements overshadowed, they had to be big, bold, and beautiful. I think we succeeded!

Here’s a close-up of the main arrangements. These are compiled of sunflowers, lisianthus, feathered black-eyed susans and various grasses.

At the bridal luncheon on Friday, I helped our bride, Anna, put together her bouquet. The final arrangement consisted of dahlias, zinnias, limelight hydrangeas, and lisianthus. The green collar around the outside is a bubby bush, which is also commonly referred to as either sweet shrub or carolina allspice.

I also braided ribbon down the stem of her bouquet.

Kristin and I used lisianthus buds, frosted explosion, ivy leaves, and blue thistle to make a few varieties of boutonnieres.

Ball Jar Arrangements:

Shasta Daisies, Dahlias, Green Zinnias, Pink Lisianthus

Zinnias and Sunflowers

Pink Zinnia, Lisianthus, Ageratum

This wedding was simple and elegant, a combination I love. As you can see, wedding or event flowers do not have to match to go together and be beautiful. You can mix a wide variety of flowers, fillers, and color and still end up with a unified presentation.

I hope these wedding pictures give you a bit of inspiration today. Happy arranging!


Arrangements from the Garden


Spring is here! After having almost an entire week of beautiful sun, we had one of the first big thunderstorms of spring last night.
When we first moved to Tennessee, I never thought I would get used to the crashing thunder and giant bolts of lightning. Now, I love hearing the sound of heavy raindrops falling on the roof or slamming up against our glass door as the wind whips them every which way. It is soothing to listen to the rain and humbling to think about its mighty power.


In honor of what the beautiful sun and mighty rains bring to us each year (FLOWERS!), I thought I would post some simple arrangements thrown together at the farm in hopes of igniting creativity with your flowers at home.

These arrangements are so simple. Grab one main flower and throw in leaves, grasses, ferns, anything you can find popping up in your backyard or even along the side of the road.

I love color so picking one or two main flowers that are bright and contrasting is my go-to plan. Hosta leaves, honeysuckle vines, grasses, and ferns are great fillers that you can find just about anywhere.

When in doubt, go simple. If you have lots of one beautiful flower, like this next picture, simply throw them all in a plain vase or pitcher to make the flowers stand out.

Don’t worry about making your arrangements perfect and static like FTD. Fun, loose, and wild is the way to go… at least with flowers.

Peonies are a beautiful and full flower. They are abundant around Mother’s Day and make arranging easy and quick. Below is a simple arrangement with only peonies and dianthus.

And of course, daffodils are the perfect spring flower. These bright beauties are perfect by themselves. If you decide to combine them with another plant like forsythia (which is blooming everywhere here in T-town), be sure to wash the stems to get rid of their sap. It is not friendly to other plants.

I hope these pictures have sparked some ideas. Now, go take a walk and explore the wide variety of spring plants and shrubs that will add the perfect flair to your arrangements. Be creative. Good luck and happy spring!


Spring on the Farm


Today was the first workshop of spring out at Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers. Twelve women from a local gardening club donned their boots and made the trek out to the farm for a bird’s nest workshop (pictures on website).

I went out to the farm yesterday to help Linda clean up the homeplace and make a few arrangements. We were so excited to be back outside working with the flowers. Yes, you heard right, flowers already! East Tennessee has had quite a few warm days making many of the flowers at Aunt Willies bloom early. This morning was sunny and with all the colorful flowers, I just had to take a few pictures to share with you all.

I couldn’t believe how many arrangements we were able to make from the early bloomers. Small, white pitchers made the spring colors pop. Don’t worry about not having much green filler to add to your arrangements, simple and loose combinations work well with these vibrant spring flowers.

These three pitchers in the window are my favorite arrangement location at the farm. We always have one stem of whatever is blooming in each pitcher. The simplicity of this arrangement against the beautiful landscape outside the window always makes a statement.

So, for those of you with a few bulbs popping out of the ground, grab your favorite jars or pitchers, cut a few stems, and bring some glorious spring into your home.