Fresh Garden Bouquets

Envisioning a fresh bouquet from your garden? Thinking about which flowers to include? Good start.

Don’t stop there.

Grab your pruners and walk your garden beds with an eye towards discovering other elements for arrangements. Once tuned in, you’ll see endless opportunities to expand your materials list and your creativity.

Bouquet Color

Color preference is entirely personal. Choose what you like. Here are a handful of points to consider.

  • White is clean and classic. If you’re unsure, go white. For flower arranging, it’s the equivalent of the little black dress.
  • For high drama reach across the color wheel and mix opposites. Purple and orange, blue and yellow and red and green are bold companion.
  • Go beyond blooms. Color can be added with silver, yellow, chartreuse, cranberry and purple foliage.

Arrangement Form

  • Adding curly or twiggy branches, berried boughs, grasses, rose hips, seed heads, twisty vines, pods and evergreens to arrangements infuses new forms and adds visual interest. Branches are also valuable for height, taking on the role of botanical exclamation points.
  • A uniform, rounded arrangement shape is classic and tidy. Arrangements with non-symmetrical elements poking out here and draping there are less controlled and more free flowing. Form is about preference, not right and wrong.
  • Currently, low flowing arrangements in boat-shaped bowls are popular. These typically have a casual, unconstrained feel and are perfect for a wide assortment of found materials.


  • Foliage can add interesting textural qualities to arrangements. The fuzzy silvery leaves of dusty miller, licorice plant, Artemisia, silver sage and lambs ears enhance flower arrangements.
  • Hosta foliage is often ribbed, puckered or crinkled – these long stemmed leaves are excellent additions to garden bouquets. The colorful and ruffled leaves of ornamental cabbages are outstanding for spring and fall arrangements.
  • Sparkler-like flower skeletons of alliums, in natural tans and ivories, or spray painted gold, are fun groups together or added to other elements.


Let intended use guide the form of an arrangement.

Placement on a dinner table argues for height that tops out a 12-14” so diners can see over the flowers. Arrangements that sit at ground level, next to the door or fireplace are better when proportionately substantial, ideally at heights of 2 feet or more. Adding colorful or curly branches is an easy way to extend height.

A single calla stem in a slender vase or a trio of peonies dropped in a jar are lovely. Go simple. If choosing less complex approaches means there will be more frequent flowers by your bedside or on your desk, that’s good, right?


  1. Flowers in the narcissus family – daffodils, paperwhites and jonquils – don’t mix well in arrangements. The sap of these plants contains an alkaloid substance that causes other flowers to wilt. If you must use narcissus in mixed arrangements, place these flowers in cool water, alone, for 24 hours. Some of the sap will drain and the narcissus can be arranged with other flowers, although the bouquets may not set any longevity records. Do not recut narcissus stems if you change the water in a day or two as this will release more sap.
  2. Flowers that grow from bulbs do best in cool, shallow vase water. Deep water can result in water logged stems and flowers that fade prematurely.
  3. To keep flowering branches like pussy willows, lilacs and fruit tree stems fresh, angle your pruners upwards and cut a half in long “X” in the bottom of each stem. This helps the branches absorb water.
  4. Including scented elements in bouquets often adds a welcome dimension. Keep in mind that in small spaces strong fragrances can overwhelm.