amy merrickflowers

begonia rex and flowers: a love story

by amym

It’s that time of year again — you know, loooove time. And while I think my all-time favorite Valentine’s Day came in the form of Chinese takeout circa 2003, that doesn’t mean I abstain completely. Chocolates in some weird box with a fake flower on top? Sure, why not. Obligatory box of conversation hearts? Don’t mind if I do. Two dozen long-stemmed roses with a heart-shaped Mylar balloon attached? Ehh, basically, no way in hell.

If the years have proved anything, it’s a rare man who can pull off gorgeous flowers on Valentine’s Day. It takes all sorts of research and awkward phone calls, not to mention forking over major money. So instead of relying on our men (or lack thereof), I suggest we all run out and grab a handful of flowers and a few begonia plants to make something stunning for yourself, your boyfriend, your bestie or your hot UPS guy. I’m going the UPS guy route.

Begonia rex foliage is the bee’s knees in flower arrangements. Beautiful, streaking magenta, burgundy, teal, silver and blacks — there really is nothing else that can pack so much punch sitting next to a flower. Not only is it gorgeous, but after the flowers die, you can root your begonia cutting to make a new houseplant. Win!

Your town’s fancy nursery should have a few potted varieties, but this website has an exhaustive selection if you’re not able to find some locally. Because begonia stems are likely to be short, it’s important to keep your vase small; the above is a salt shaker with the top screwed off. Just put two leaves in to make a base that will set off your flowers. — Amy M.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Amy’s post and her tips for creating this arrangement after the jump!

You can add in only one type of flower if you want something sweet and simple; I used two stems of hellebore, but really any flower with a pretty face would work. To keep your mini-arrangement looking natural, it’s nice to cut one stem so the flower’s head is resting just at the vase’s neck, and cut the other a bit taller so the flowers seem to be growing upward.

Another vase favorite around here is abandoned sugar bowls and creamers from tea sets of yore. Because their necks are a bit wide, it’s easier to work with them if you cut a small square of chicken wire and ball it up inside to create a web to hold the stems.

Your begonia leaves go in first to help determine the placement of your larger flowers.

Turning your arrangement as you go, tuck your flowers into your chicken wire to secure them. I used Yves Piaget roses, purple tulips, variegated carnations and a stem or so of black hellebore for contrast. The roses have the most insanely beautiful old-rose fragrance — you would not even believe it. A possible aphrodisiac? For a romantic girl, no doubt, and also less slimy than oysters.

Add in one stem of dendrobium orchid ($4), one stem of hellebore ($3) and two stems of ranunculus ($3 each). To get more mileage out of the orchid, cut the long stem in half to make two usable pieces.

For under $15, you have something that will beat the living daylights out of a bunch of corner-store red roses. Women will weep. Girls will swoon. Boys will, umm, be boys but that doesn’t mean they won’t like the flowers or think you’re not crazy special, wonderful and quite the catch. Because you totally are a catch, and I hope this Valentine’s Day, flowers or no, you feel like one.

With love from your not-so-secret admirer, Amy M.

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