A 20-Something's Guide To Flowers

This story was originally published on April 30, 2015.

In The Catcher In The Rye, J.D. Salinger wrote, "Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody." We wholeheartedly agree. Maybe that’s why we feel so rich in the spring — from the park to Instagram, it’s impossible to take a stroll or scroll without running face-first into blooms, blooms, and more blooms.

Bringing them inside (and buying them for yourself) is a further indulgence — one that we’re fully embracing. We invited Michael and Darroch of New York-based Putnam & Putnam floral arrangements to show us how to craft a decadent arrangement using buds you can get at the corner bodega or flower market. Below, their tips for making a Dutch painting-inspired centerpiece that's as striking in person as it is primed for your feed.
1. First, lay out all your stems on a flat surface so you can see what you're working with (the petals can handle being horizontal). Make sure to buy a mix of "face" flowers (large blooms like roses) and "filler" stems (carnations, freesia, sweet peas, and wax flowers). We started out with garden roses, tulips, ranunculus, anemones, hellebores, and carnations.
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Photographed by Keirnan Monaghan. Styling by Theo Vamvounakis.
2. After you choose your vase, place four strips of tape over it in a grid to make arranging easy and separate the blooms. You won't be able to see the tape when you're finished. Put cold water in the vase and add some plant food for longevity. (Putnam & Putnam recommend Chrysal brand.)

Pro tip: If you have roses that are still closed up, put them in hot water for five to 10 minutes before transferring them to cold water, and the bud will open up. But, never keep flowers that have soft, flexible stems in hot water. It will encourage bacteria growth and kill the flowers quicker.
Photographed by Keirnan Monaghan. Styling by Theo Vamvounakis.
3. Cut your stems at a variety of lengths, tall and short, for both filler and face buds.
Photographed by Keirnan Monaghan. Styling by Theo Vamvounakis.
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4. To place, start with the face flowers and spread them out in the grid you've created. It's all about asymmetrical balance. It's okay if the right side has more roses than the left. Fill in the empty spaces with clusters of the other smaller flowers. Make sure to turn the vase as you go along so you see the arrangement from all sides.
Pro tip: With some gentle manipulation, you can actually change the look of some flowers. For tulips, simply gently pull back the petals. For carnations, peel back the green leaves underneath and then blow into the flower to fluff out the petals. They'll look unrecognizable and this technique won't hurt the life span of the flower.
Photographed by Keirnan Monaghan. Styling by Theo Vamvounakis.
5. Don't be afraid to let some buds droop to the table.
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