I don’t know about you, but this time of year, I’m starved for anything green. So one way I welcome spring into my home is with bouquets of faux greenery, the wilder and more natural looking the better. We’ve filled our stores with these marvelous creations – everywhere you turn, you’ll see urns, ginger jars and pottery vases holding lush, natural arrangements that look like they were snipped from the garden that morning.

So many people ask how we pull together these dramatic displays, and they’re always surprised to discover how easy it is to create this memorable look when you have the right tools and follow a few simple steps.  I’ve asked Theresa, the landscape architect and interior designer who does the arrangements at Nell Hill’s Briarcliff, to share her secrets for creating these wonderful bouquets and show us how she works her magic, step by step. Here’s what she says:

Settle on a Style

Before you begin, decide what style of bouquet you want. At the stores, I asked Theresa to create an English garden look using only greenery, no flowers. I wanted the arrangements to be wild and natural, not fussy and fixed.

Determine the Size

The size of your arrangement will be dictated by the space you want it to fill. In the stores, we have lofty ceilings so we go for mega-bouquets. But in your home, you’ll probably want something a bit more scaled back.

Pick the Perfect Container

Your container should match the style and size of your arrangement. For our example today, we picked a simple black iron urn that’s about 18 inches high. (If you don’t yet have one of these urns, you’ve just got to get one. These must-have decorating tools are amazingly versatile and can serve as a cornerstone of your year-round decorating. We just received a huge shipment, so come check them out at Nell Hill’s today!) In addition to garden urns, we build lots of our displays at the stores in blue and white Asian ginger jars, clay olive oil vessels, white ceramic vases and tall glass cylinder vases.

Use Superlative Fakes

I used to hate fake flowers and avoided them like the plague. But today’s faux foliage is so realistic and affordable, now I won’t use anything else. The key to making your arrangements lifelike is to position the branches so they look just like they would grow in nature. For our arrangement today, Theresa selected five of her favorite stems. Notice how she bends the bottoms of the stems to get them to fit better in the container instead of snipping them off. That way she can reuse them in different sized bouquets in the future.

Let Your Inner Floral Artist Free

Like any artist, Theresa likes to play around with different looks, seeing which ones grab her fancy. Today, she’s going to show us two different approaches to creating killer displays in urns.

Look One: Structured Bouquet with a Focal Point

Since we’re gaga over lanterns at Nell Hill’s, Theresa has picked a lantern as the focal point of this display. All she’s done is rest the lantern on the mouth of the urn, then filled in with six stems of boxwood greens, making sure the stems twist and turn about to give the arrangement movement and direction. You can leave the lantern empty or add a battery operated candle, a small garden statue or a stick holding a bird’s nest. This beautiful arrangement would look fabulous on your front porch, in your entry or on a buffet, surrounded by a few more accents.

For a variation of our lantern look, Theresa substituted with a taller, more dramatic lantern and added a second layer of greens – four stems of lemon leaves, whose broad, shiny leaves provide a nice contrast to the tinier leaves of the boxwood greens.

Look Two: Natural Bouquet of Greens

To recreate one of the natural displays you see in our stores, start with an odd number of fallen branches, stripped of their leaves. Look for sticks with lots of twists, knots and knobs to add movement and intrigue to your finished display. (I have been known to make Dan pull off the road when we’re driving and snatch a particularly fantastic stick I’ve spotted. He thinks I’m crazy!) For proper proportion, be sure the sticks are no more than twice the height and width of your container.

The first layer of greens builds the structure of the display and determines where the viewer’s eye will travel. Theresa picked six stems of lemon leaves for her base layer. Typically, she creates floral arrangements in oval or triangle shapes. But her goal today is to make this bouquet look wild and natural, so as she adds each layer, she’ll be sure they look haphazard, not staged and styled.

Next, Theresa adds eight stems of faux boxwood to create the second layer of greens. If you want a light, airy look for your bouquet, you could stop here. It looks wonderful. Or, you could use this display as the base for a year-round arrangement, adding seasonal flowers like tulips for spring, hydrangeas for summer and sunflowers for fall.

Since we’re not adding flowers to our arrangement, Theresa next adds some berries for a bit of visual interest and texture. She uses just four stems, but places them in highly visible spots, like the top of the bouquet, where they don’t compete with the other greens.

To add just a hint of color to our otherwise all-green look, Theresa has picked five stems of faux heather for the last layer. The touch of coral gives the display more depth, and the feathery leaves bring visual movement.

We’re done! Doesn’t it look fantastic? And so, so easy to reproduce!

Find a highly visible spot to display your wonderful creation, like on a side table in your living room, at the center of your dining room table, on a hutch or an entry table.

Looking for the right tools to create a great bouquet? Plan a trip to Nell Hill’s or call Kathleen at 877-367-1086 if you live too far to stop by soon. Plus, we’re always open at Nell Hill’s Online – just click the “shop online” button on my Web site home page. I just added a wonderful cachepot that’s screaming for a summer arrangement – check it out.

Coming Next Week …

Next week, I’ll blog about how you can make your bed beautiful for summer. I’ve asked the design team at Nell Hill’s Briarcliff to share their secrets for styling an irresistible bed – you’ll be surprised by some of their simple tricks for making your bed luxurious. Come see me!

Celebrate Your Style,

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34 Responses to “Create a Wild and Wonderful Summer Bouquet”

  1. donna Says:

    Great step by step directions. I am definitely wanting a black urn now!

  2. Patti Says:

    Good afternoon sweet friend,

    I love this natural look! Adding the lantern is a
    unique twist that adds usefulness if needed.

    You made me laugh about stopping for a stick.
    I have been known to pick up moss covered
    mini-branches while doing my walk around the
    park. By some of the looks, I know they totally
    don’t get what gems natures hands us.

    So glad I don’t have to wait on a book to keep being
    updated on new looks or trends.

    Thanks so much.

  3. Suzanne Says:

    I just added this to my blog roll! I am so happy that you have joined the blogging world and look forward to all of your wonderful ideas and beuatiful designs.

  4. Karin Says:

    I love the versatility of a black urn. Great post!

  5. Sandra Says:

    Hello Mary Carol, Like you and Patti, I too collect things from my walks around the lake and in the parks. I have a large urn by my front door that is decorated for the seasons. Save me a lantern to put into it. How pretty!

    I’m thrilled about the blog and so happy to see you on facebook as well.
    Can’t wait to come see what treasures you have for us.

    I

  6. Diana Says:

    Yippee! I love your website and especially love your blog because living in Oklahoma we can’t visit your stores as often as we would like. Bravo for the blogs that have pictures (like this one). Your creativity is so inspiring, thanks for sharing Mary Carol!

  7. Mary Frye, HFIA Says:

    Mary Carol, what a great blog. I don’t have the time or even the inclination necessarily to make a centerpiece although I love the look of them. However, I enjoy thinking I could after reading your step by step directions. You are very kind and generous to share these tips.

  8. Jackie Says:

    The pictures speak a 1000 words. Thank you for the detailed explanations and the photos and lastly seeing it in a room! This is the first day I have received the blog in my email box and I must say thank you and bring more on!

  9. Jill Says:

    Mary Carol, this was a gorgeous mini-seminar! Thanks for sharing the tricks of the trade — never as difficult as it looks, eh?

    I was your spa buddy at the resort in Phoenix during the SDP conference and am wishing we were with you in Kansas City. If I ever get back that way, I’ll be sure to stop and say hello!

    Blessings for a beautiful Spring!

  10. julie Says:

    Awesome mini class on arrangements! I need my Nell Hills Fix! must drive down from Omaha soon!

  11. Carol Says:

    Love the new blog and step by step tips on making a great arrangement!

  12. Nancy Stoddard Says:

    Bradford Pear trees have good branches for arrangements. They’re twisty turny.

  13. Susan Kelly Powers Says:

    Hello,

    If possible,could you add my email to your blog? I’m not sure how blogs work, but I’d love to get your postings in my mail box.

    Thanks,
    Susan

  14. Tulip Tilly Says:

    I am such a visual person, I welcome the tutorials and can’t wait for more informational how to’s. Thanks so much for sharing.

  15. Ramona Owen Says:

    Wonderfully, wonderful post! I am so delighted that you have joined us in the land of blog. You have made many decorating loving folks smile today.

    Smiles ~ Ramona

  16. Marlene Richards Says:

    Thank you so much for your blog. Each time I open it, I am transformed into another place. Thanks for your tutorials and I particularly enjoy the photos you include. Keep up the good work!

  17. Cindy Newcomer Says:

    I have visited your beautiful store during a fun girls’ trip to Kansas City to see a dear friend. She said Briarcliff was a MUST SEE. And she was right. Being from Indianapolis, I will have to recreate that trip soon for more visual treats and purchases. Thank you for such great inspiration!

  18. maureen Says:

    So happy you have a blog now! This was awesome and I love the step-by-step directions!

  19. Barb Says:

    Mary Carol,
    I am so happy to find your blog! I am adding you to my list of great design blogs for added inspiration. The arrangements are great and I love the step by step instructions. Welcome to blogging!

  20. Cathy Says:

    I never met a rock, a stick or a pine cone that wasn’t love at first sight! It is fun to find someone that confirms Mother Nature has the best floral shop in the world! Thanks for the encouragement will look forward to more motivating ideas!

  21. Khristine Says:

    I’m so doing this! I’ve been looking for inspiration for something different but classy on my front porch. I purchased 2 great lanterns last year and so this year the urns are on my list. Thank You!!!!

  22. Holly Mathis Says:

    I’ve been blogging a long time and this looks great..good job! can’t wait to add to my blog roll and send my client both online and in real life over here! so rich..so much here now with the store and now this…makes my cyber decorating of others home so much easier..thanks for this resource!

    Holly

  23. Marilyn Shannon Says:

    Wonderful ideas. I wish I lived in KC so I could come to your store everyday. But Texas is a little far, so keep the ideas coming. They make me feel like I am at Briarcliff!

  24. Dee Says:

    Your tips are great to have. Love your style and always love visiting your stores. Keep your blog going…….You are GREAT!

  25. Anthony Says:

    Wonderfully, wonderful post! I am so delighted that you have joined us in the land of blog. You have made many decorating loving folks smile today.

    Smiles ~ Ramona

  26. Ian Says:

    Mary Carol,
    I am so happy to find your blog! I am adding you to my list of great design blogs for added inspiration. The arrangements are great and I love the step by step instructions. Welcome to blogging!

  27. Kelly Says:

    Mary Carol,
    I am so happy to find your blog! I am adding you to my list of great design blogs for added inspiration. The arrangements are great and I love the step by step instructions. Welcome to blogging!

  28. Don Says:

    I’ve been blogging a long time and this looks great..good job! can’t wait to add to my blog roll and send my client both online and in real life over here! so rich..so much here now with the store and now this…makes my cyber decorating of others home so much easier..thanks for this resource!

    Holly

  29. Jonathan Says:

    Wonderfully, wonderful post! I am so delighted that you have joined us in the land of blog. You have made many decorating loving folks smile today.

    Smiles ~ Ramona

  30. PH Test : Says:

    small gardens are nice because you can just fit it in any part of your home, small gardens have that “cute” factor too:-,

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  32. Andrew Says:

    Have you ever deemed putting extra videos for your websites to keep your readers additional entertained? I mean I just read during the entire article of yours and it was quite fine consider I’m really a visual learner,I found that being more helpful. Just my my idea, Good luck

  33. Peggie Deschenes Says:

    I am wondering about the 2 white chairs that sit on each side of the beautiful arrangement…I would love to recreate that whole setting…I am soooo hoping I can come close to making that arrangement and I would love to purchase those chairs pending the size of them….hope you can help…Love this website thank you for sharing and I am hoping to come to your store someday.
    Thanks for your time
    Mrs Peggie Deschenes

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