This is the first installment in a weekly series on every girl’s favorite thing (besides diamonds, chocolate and wine, of course): flowers…because you don’t always need a guy to buy them for you.


March is a funny month. And by funny, I mean cruel. As New Englanders, we rely on March to bring us a renewed sense of optimism that we won’t be living with this slushy, brown snow forever…but it doesn’t always happen that way. Okay sure, the clocks change and the first “official” day of spring is on the books, but that doesn’t mean Mother Nature doesn’t have one last trick up her sleeve.

So last week, I staged a coup. As a snow storm dumped over a foot of fresh snow on us and my sad tulip buds were being buried alive, I decided it would be spring inside despite March’s misery outside. Luckily, I had an ally in Whole Foods, who was hosting a one-day-only sale on tulips (30 stems for $10! score!). I battled the elements and arrived victorious with daffodils to boot:


Now the question became: what the heck do I do with them? If a green thumb means you’re skilled at gardening, then mine is definitely the faintest tint of the lightest shade of mint green. I’m certainly a newbie, but we all start somewhere, right?

Here’s my first attempt at DIY floral arrangements: tulips two ways

My first step was to pick which vases I’d use. I’m a big fan of short, squat vases stuffed to the brim with fresh flowers. They dress up smaller surfaces without becoming a nuisance – coffee table, nightstand, bathroom counter, etc. I also repurposed a white milk pitcher to use as a centerpiece for brunch.


Using the vases as my guide, it was time to start trimming the flowers. (Even if you’re not cutting them down, it’s always good to give them a fresh snip at the end before putting them in the vase.) The brilliant Dr Google instructed me to make a diagonal cut at the tips of the flower under cool running water.


Focusing on the shorter vase first, I knew I’d be taking most of the stem and leaves off the tulips. (Faint shade of mint thumb tip: I never knew you’re supposed to take any leaves that fall below the water line in a vase off the stem. Oops!)  Those poor tulips didn’t know what  hit ‘em.


I’ve always admired flower arrangements that use leaves to disguise the stems inside the glass. The most preferred leaf for this is a banana leaf due to its size and sheen. I didn’t want to make a separate trip for one though and decided to get creative with a couple of the larger tulip leaves instead. I wrapped the leaves in the vase so they curled into each other, holding them in place. At this point, they weren’t flat against the vase, but I figured once I added all the stems and water, they’d flush out on their own.


I had previously divided the 30 stems and planned to use 15 for each vase. I started adding flowers in one-by-one in a criss-cross pattern until I had a full circle. Then it was time to add these bad boys:


I found these filler flowers in the clearance section of the grocery store for $1.99 and couldn’t resist getting them. I tucked the buds into any sparse spots and with some last-minute OCD adjustments (heaven forbid two bright pink tulips are next to each other), I was done. The final result was just the pop of spring I was looking for.


(Another tip: When I bought the tulips, I was a little concerned that they wouldn’t bloom in time for the brunch since most of them were still closed. The florist at Whole Foods recommended filling the vase with warm water for 2 hours to encourage them to open up. The verdict? It totally worked! Just compare these photos to the one at the very top to see the difference)

Moving on to my second project, I trimmed the tips of the daffodils. Flower question for folks: Should the brown leaves/petals on these be discarded or left on? I took most of them off, but wonder if it affects their lifespan?


This arrangement was much easier to do. A quick trim of the stems, removed some of the lower leaves, and criss-crossed the tulips in the pitcher. After seeing the tulips in the vase by themselves, I almost left them as is because I liked the simplicity of it. I eventually added the daffodils for an extra pop of color. The photo below doesn’t do it justice, but I’m glad I ended up putting them in.


All in all, I’d consider my first foray into floral arranging a success. I didn’t lose any fingers, my extremities are intact, and I scored two arrangements for less than $20! (30 tulips – $10, 2 bunches of daffodils – $4, mystery filler flowers – $2)

Confession: I’m headed to the Boston Flower and Garden Expo tomorrow for the first time. I’m going alone because none of my hip city friends seem to think a garden show is a fun way to spend a Saturday (weird, right?). I don’t usually do things alone, but I’m kind of looking forward to it. Worst case scenario, I’ll hitch onto a suburban garden club’s tour and pretend I’m one of the gang:

Hey Marge! Wait up! I love the sticker family on the back of your mini-van!