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Mother's Day Issue

At-Home Master Class: Floral Arrangements with McQueens Flowers

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What's Mother's Day without a gorgeous bouquet? But if you, like us, are still social distancing, here's a master class to arranging your own breathtaking floral design at home—with a little help from the experts at McQueens Flowers, which provides the high-profile blooms for Claridge’s in London as well as Vanity Fair’s Oscars After-Party. We talk to Emily Mathison, Creative Director of its New York outpost, who shares her insider intel on elevating bodega and supermarket florals—what's on hand right now—to absolute showstoppers.

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But, first, our own pro tip to make mom smile: Upgrade the bouquet with a gift certificate from McQueens Flowers, either for the one-day workshop at its esteemed International Flower School or the one-day floral design class and flower market tour—or both. Make it a shared experience you'll both enjoy. Learn more here.

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What You'll Need
1.
A container—experiment with "vases" that you wouldn’t normally think of using, especially during these times when it can be much harder to buy long-stemmed flowers, or you’re making use of shorter-stemmed flowers and foliage you have in the garden. We love using ornamental tins, such as the type you get tea or cookies in, or mason jars and storage tins—have a root around the kitchen cupboards!
2. Scissors—these can be a sharp pair of kitchen scissors or your garden cutters.
3. Some flowers—think bodega, supermarket, garden.
You can choose mixed flowers, but if you can’t find them, what can you do instead? Go mono-floral. McQueens is well-known for this approach. Create a real "wow effect by using a single type of flower in any size of vase.

Most Popular Flowers for Mother’s Day
They say April showers bring May Flowers and that’s something we really get to enjoy at Mother’s Day! It’s the start of the season for peonies—really feminine, gorgeous, full cups of petals, and there are some really amazing scented varieties!

What’s in Season Now
May marks the peak of spring flowers, so there’s a glutton of sweet peas, tulips, lilac and ranunculus to enjoy before summer flowers start in June.


All photos courtesy of McQueen Flowers

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Where to Start
Remember that bringing nature into the home doesn’t have to be a selection of your best roses; it can be gorgeous vases of meadow style flowers, or simply interesting foliage. For example, combining lamium album (common name white nettle or dead nettle—no sting) with dock leaves makes a most unusual, fascinating and interesting arrangement.
1. Fill your container with clean cold tap water.
2. Clean the stem of the flower/foliage by removing any foliage or thorns that will be under the waterline.
3. Look at your materials and try and spot any interesting shapes that you might like to show off, perhaps a gorgeous branch of blossom has a gorgeous curve, or a tulips with a cool kink in the stem.
4. Cut stems at a 45 degree angle just before placing them in the vase.
5. Take your time and enjoy the process, place flowers a stem at a time.
6. When you finish, find the perfect spot for your creation!

When It Comes to Vases
Try to use a vase or container that’s either a third of the height of your flowers or a third of the width of your finished arrangement. But above all, use a container or vessel you love (even if it’s not a vase in the classic sense)—it can really "make the piece" and let you break the rules with confidence! If it holds water, use it! From jam jars to perfume bottles, teapots to gravy boats—nothing is off limits, and all can be used to create cool, unusual and beautiful arrangements.

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Top 5 Tips

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1. Choose Seasonal flowers when possible—it’s something that we really believe in at McQueens Flowers. In the same way that strawberries taste better in June, tulips look better and last longer in April and peonies smell best in May!

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2. Pick the freshest flowers possible! A lot of varieties need time to open, and it’s actually a gorgeous part of enjoying flowers, seeing the petals unfurl, watching tulips grow, anemones start to open, etc. If the flowers are for your home, or you're giving flowers for someone else to enjoy at home, we believe in sending gorgeous fresh flowers that will last 4 to 7 days.

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3. Change the vase water daily. This will increase the vase life of your blooms, and, therefore, your enjoyment of them!

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4. Place the vase in the room you spend most of your time for maximum enjoyment! If you’d like your flowers to last as long as possible, put them in a spot without direct sunlight. As much as we all love a gorgeous vase of roses on our windowsill, this will limit the vase life of your flowers.

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5. Don’t be afraid to experiment! A vase of shop-bought roses, with some lilacs from the garden will look gorgeous!

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To Heighten the Drama

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1. Mix it up and let yourself go! Greenery-only arrangements are just wonderful, and we’re in peak season right now for an abundance of wonderful varieties—so many of which are found in our gardens.

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2. The beauty of foliage is in the diversity, so don’t be shy about mixing it up to create as much depth and interest as possible. Foliage-only arrangements work best if using different textures, different tones and different heights.

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3. And if you have a beautiful tall piece that has many interesting leaves or maybe fruit flowers—apple blossom, for example—really showcase it by having it reaching out, having its own moment among the rest!

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4. The joy of foliage is that it is big and plentiful, so you really can create a "wow" at home.

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5. Foliage can last a long time—often longer than their flower friends—so keep the water fresh and every few days re-cut the stems to keep them lasting and lasting.

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Flower-market florals

Emily Mathison, Creative Director of McQueens Flowers New York

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