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Peonies in a basket

Use chicken wire to build an overflowing cottage style peony arrangement

I’ve been asked many times how I construct some arrangements with chicken wire as a flower holder. Chicken wire is durable, recyclable and a great alternative to floral foam which in fact is petroleum derived material and which decomposes into microplastics while polluting the environment. Other options are also available, and I’ll address them in another blog.

Here is how I built this cottage garden peony vision with chicken wire.

  1. Plants and container
    • Decide on your plant material and choose your container accordingly. In this case, it was the peak of peony season, so there were plenty of blooms available. Because I wanted a cottage style arrangement in pastel colors, I selected many flowers (around 10) of the same shades – mostly the oversize, tall and fluffy pink Peonia ‘Sarah Bernhardt- and completed with other colors and shapes of peonies, maybe 10 more. With that many flowers available, I selected a charming vintage basket and carefully fitted a plastic bucket in it and then half filled it with water. I completed the floral selection with some white alliums, ferns, delphiniums and phloxes.
  2. Chicken wire
    • chicken wireI use the medium grade of chicken wire (or poultry netting) available at the hardware store, a galvanized steel hexagonal wire netting with 1-inch x 1-inch mesh size, in a roll of 2 feet wide and 25 feet long. The easiest way to cut the chicken wire is extending the roll and use a wire cutter in the honeycomb wire in zigzag instead of trying to cut through the double wire. I prepare strips of a foot wide and then fold half each side on the middle, and the same in length. Once done, I make sure the honeycombs overlap each other, creating tight little cells where stems will be held. I usually have a few chicken wire “balls” already prepared and reused them all the time after a good cleaning. I’m still on the same single roll for the last 3 years, even after giving away some arrangements.
  3. Building process
    • “Fluff” the folded wire into a ball and insert it so it fits tightly the top portion of the bucket. You may have to apply gardener’s tape in a X on top of the bucket to avoid the wire to pop up. Place first the tallest stems of the main color in 2 triangles, cutting the stems at an angle to have the desirable heights and pruning the bottom foliage so no leaves touch the water. Each stem should be inserted in an alveole of the netting and place at the correct angle. Continue working around the basket with the biggest flowers to the smallest. Finish by filling the spaces with the accessory blooms and some foliage, making sure the is some falling over. In this example I added one long stem of delphinium over the arrangement for a quirky touch,

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