Bob and I enjoy entertaining. Whether we're hosting a graduation party, shower or holiday get-together, I call on my girlfriends for help. They've been known to pitch in with everything from extra serving dishes to food suggestions and table decorations (yes, they're lifesavers!)
Mega-talented Linda's my go-to for centerpieces. That girl's the queen of eye-catching creations you'd think were straight from the florist. Envying her floral finesse, I asked Michael Gaffney, founder of the American Schools of Flower Design with campuses in New York and six other U.S. locations, for his top tips on how boomers can style killer flower arrangements at home.
Michael Gaffney, founder
American Schools of Flower Design
Imitation has been said to be highest form of flattery, and floral art is no exception. Learning design is about exposing yourself to inspirational works; then recreating them with your own thumbprint.
So if you want to design like the pros, my best advice is to follow their lead. Pick up a few good books on flower arranging and emulate the images you like. My favorites include Judith Blacklock's Encyclopedia of Flower Design, Ron Morgan's In the Company of Flowers and Brides and Blooms Magazine.
We've really seen an influx of stunning flowers in the everyday market. Grocery stores, in particular, have come a long way in both product variety and quality, with many purchasing growing fields in different countries. And your local store's designer can be an untapped source of information. Get to know them, watch how they combine flowers and don't be afraid to ask for tips.
Pick seasonal colors.
Stick to bright shades for summer, pastels for spring and whites for winter; and you'll be halfway home.
Learn to huddle.
Working with a single variety, mound blossoms together in a mass design with solid flowers head-to-head. Place the grouping in a rectangular, square or cylinder pot for a show-stopping burst of color.
Look for nice, long-stemmed selections with some height, like Gladiolas, Larkspur or Delphinium. Placing them in a vertical container with some bear or china grass can have a dramatic effect.
Go for greens.
One of the simplest ways to design a bouquet is to begin with greens branching out from a central point in a vase. Tuck the greens slightly down the container's neck, using them as a holder for inserting blooms. The country's top professionals follow this tip every day. They rely on grasses such as Tree Fern, China Grass, Italian Ruckus and Ming Fern that are often available in your supermarket.
Recognized as one of the country's leading floral artists, baby boomer Michael Gaffney has designed arrangements for award-winning festivals, weddings and A-list Hollywood events such as film premiers for Jennifer Aniston and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Michael opened his school of flower design in Milwaukee in the early 2000s. Since then, it has expanded to Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Diego and New York City.