Flower arrangements

A summery cottage garden’s flower arrangement

5 steps to fill a beautiful vintage basket with perennial blooms


  • Cut flowers from the garden: annuals, perennials or shrub/tree blooms
  • A bucket of cold water to condition and preserve the cut flowers
  • A large basket chosen accordingly to the quantity of flowers available
  • A bucket or leak-proof container fitting the basket in height and width
  • Floral foam to fill the basket OR double chicken wire rolled to fit the bucket
  • Pruners and scissors
  • Water
  • A counter or table
  • A bag or pail for plant trimmings

Time allowed

45-75 minutes excluding flower picking.

1- The flowers

Gather the blooms of perennials and choose them with a color scheme in mind (pinks, pastel of pinks to lavenders, whites). Remember, some pinks don’t match well. Same for reds. Select also different shapes and heights. Here, foxgloves and peonies will be the outstanding blooms.

Early morning is the best time to cut fresh flowers. Cut long stems at an angle and place immediately in a container of fresh water kept in the shade. This early July arrangement consists of:

  • 15 white, pink, white and lavender foxgloves cut very tall
  • 7 light pink peonies flowers
  • 15 white and lilac phloxes
  • 8 lavender penstemons with contrasting foliage
  • 6 dark blue Siberian irises
  • 10 dark pink spirea blooming stems
  • 6 large daisies
  • 3 delphinium stems
  • 3 stems of peach oriental lily with buds
  • 8 flowering stems of hosta
  • 5 small- to medium-size variegated leaves of hosta

2- The basket

How much flower material do you have? Choose the basket and the fitting bucket accordingly. This is a large vintage handwoven basket measuring 11 inches high with a diameter of 16 inches. Pack the bucket with floral foam (dried recycled foam is ok) or chicken wire and fill water to 4 inches of the top. Secure the bucket in the basket.

3- The main body

Start with three of the tallest flowers, here the foxgloves. Trim the foliage with fingers or scissors as no foliage for all flowers should sit in water. Measure the height of your stem before cutting it again. A high arrangement should have from a third more to almost double the height. Place the first stem slightly off-center and the 2 others slighlty off-side in order to create a triangle. Repeat with 3 more flowers.

4- The filling

Continue with the 3 biggest flowers around the basket (not necessarily the tallest) in a triangle way. Here 3 peonies were placed with some upper foliage left, keeping only the upper foliage if not damaged. Then alternate with the other tall and sturdy blooms: delphiniums, lilies, more foxgloves, etc. Turn the basket around or vice-versa so you get a better view of the combination. Take 2 or 3 steps back once in a while to see how the arrangement balances itself. Do not hesitate to cut more or move a stem. Let some flower drop over the edge of the basket for a more natural look.

5- The final touches

Set the other flowers all around with some lower heights and filling gracefully the empty spaces left. Ornamental foliage such as hostas are perfect to add green tones throughout and nest the blooms if necessary.

Additional tips

Don’t throw broken stems!

Use a straw as a stake by inserting in it a few inches of a broken or thin stem for more stability. As long as the stem touches the water, it should not wilt right away. It also works well for shorter stems needed to fill an empty spaces.

Keep it fresh

Flowers need fresh and clean water. Be sure the bucket you used has been cleaned with javel. Same for recycled floral moss. Add and even change water regularly. This arrangement with fresh flowers should stay nice for at least 5 days. After a few days, you may want to refresh or restyle the arrangement by cutting the tips and removing wilted blooms.

Add flower food

I usually do not use water additives, be that javel water, seven-up, sugar, lemon juice or what not. If available and you wish to, add fresh flower food crystals or a little lemon juice mixed well to fresh water.

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  1. February 21, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    Great tips Celene, and your arrangement is stunning! Thanks for the gorgeous inspiration! 💗

    • March 5, 2020 at 5:45 pm

      Thank you so much Barbara for following!

  2. Mindy Morris
    February 22, 2020 at 1:37 am

    Very nice detailed instructions to creating a BEAUTIFUL masterpiece! I have studied MANY articles on floral arranging…yours is VERY Well Done! I see you like to use odd numbers for visual interest….and your Thriller…Filler…Spiller technique is masterfully done! Enjoyed this so much Celine…Thank You!🍃💖🍃

    • March 5, 2020 at 5:44 pm

      So nice to read your comment Mindy!