During my June beach vacation, I begged Drew’s 89 year old Grandmother, Ruthmary, to give me a flower arranging lesson. Roo-Roo as us “kids” call her is the type of Southern woman you read about in best selling beach novels. She is an amazing cook, gardener and charitable figure in her community yet she drinks bourbon with grace and cracks the wittiest jokes of anyone I know. Her flower arrangements are legendary in her hometown of Wilson, North Carolina and now we can all learn from her years of experience.
Start with a big selection of flowers. Pictured above are Roo-Roo’s hydrangeas and gardenias from her home garden which she transported 2 hours to the beach. She lines her table with newspaper to make a mess on and then throw out after clean up. Smart.
She said to make sure your vase is at waist height or above so you can step back to examine the shape as it builds. Line the first layer of your vase with greenery from your garden or florist.
Add the largest stalks of flowers to the center and back of your arrangements to start the shape.
These four tall hydrangeas are the foundation of her arrangement but any large blooms will work for this step.
Fill in the front and center of the arrangement with shorter blooms and varied hues to create interest and depth.
Continue to fill in more blooms and greenery until your vase is full and your arrangement has a pretty shape.
Now add in some smaller flowers in contrasting colors and shapes. She added gardenias (which Roo-Roo would have wrapped with floral wire to keep from dropping if she had some) and some pale pink flowers and shooting star hydrangeas for contrast.
Ruthmary’s general advice on floral arrangements is “make it so that a bee can fly through it.” Natural and open, her flowers look artfully placed but not fussily stuffing into tight bundles.
The finished piece!
She placed it on an entryway table to the back porch so all who passed snagged a scent of gardenias in their day. A lesson I will never forget, thanks so much Roo-Roo.