Archives for posts with tag: Sharon McGukin

As DIY brides make plans for their spring weddings, a simple hand-tied is often the bouquet of choice. One design technique to consider is a finished bouquet handle for a polished look.

Strip foliage from the flowers you will use in your bouquet so that you will be holding clean stems. Begin the design by holding the center flower (central axis or spine flower – in this photo, green hydrangea) with your left hand.  Add more flowers, one at a time, around the first flower in a spiral motion – building a rounded circle of flowers. (Here, roses and lilies are used). Visit your local florist to purchase the perfect fresh flowers for your design.

When you have completed the design, use waterproof floral tape or waxed string to tie off the bouquet at the binding point – just beneath the flower blooms. Pull the flower stems together and bind them again, with tape or cord, a little shorter than the width of your ribbon. Cut the stems straight across at a length that is comfortable for holding; at least 1 – 2 inches longer than the width of your hand. If you want the bouquet to continue to drink water, leave a couple of inches of stems uncovered below where the ribbon will be applied. This length of stem can stand in a vase of shallow water  below the ribbon’s edge without getting the ribbon wet.

Cut a width of ribbon long enough to wind around the stems and barely overlap itself. Turn under the a fold of the unfinished edge of ribbon and pin   or glue it in place for a finished look. For extra security with no mess, you can add double-faced tape or UGLU ( to the stems beneath the ribbon to keep it securely in place.

After securing the ribbon, insert into the ribbon/stems pearl-headed or accessorizing pins, glue on gemstones, or pin on a favorite brooch to personalize the handle to reflect the personality of the bride or bridesmaids. The brooch of a deceased loved one may be used in honor of their memory.

Mist the flowers with an anti-transpirant like Floralife’s Finishing Touch to provide nutrients and hydration. This ensures that the flowers will stay fresh longer. (

What questions about DIY Flowers you would like to see answered in this blog.

Need more wedding ideas? My book of wedding photos and tips, Flowers of the heart – a bride’s guide to choosing flowers for your wedding,  is available at, on, & FaceBook – Flowers of the heart page.

Celebrate life with flowers!

Sharon McGukin AIFD, AAF, PFCI


I had a great weekend in Wichita, Kansas. However, I was delayed for hours both going into KS and returning home to GA. Storms rolling through the southeast had our planes grounded. Guess I should have clicked the red shoes I was wearing three times. It worked for Dorothy!

I presented a holiday design program at Valley Floral Wholesale on behalf of Teleflora. Suzie Kostick, editor of Flora Magazine and I were the guest speakers for the presentation. I presented designs arranged from permanent botanicals (silk and dried materials) and Suzie designed arrangements using fresh floral product. We shared a great audience and were available to them for questions. Jerry and Kelly have a great staff to work with. Kerry Sallabedra AIFD, their design director does a fantastic job organizing their design events – including the recent wedding of their youngest daughter. Gorgeous! Ask to see their photos….

For the design event, local designers were offered the opportunity to participate in a Valley Idol contest. I have attached a few photos of some of the entries. One segment of the contest was designing a wreath, and another area of competition was creating an arrangement in a cornucopia. I left for the airport before the winners were announced.

With the autumn season approaching it’s a good time to think of late summer / early fall flowers that we can enjoy in our homes. Luckily, many flowers whose color and texture reflect the season are long-lasting ones as well. Here is an idea for a quick DIY arrangement that you can enjoy for table for a ‘late summer supper’.

Drop by your local florist and select some stems of lilies in orange or yellow as your form flower. This gives body or form to your design. Choose some tall grasses, cattails, or curly willow tips for height, creating the line of your arrangement. If you want to add mass to your form you can add a few stems of small flowers like miniature mums or fall leaves as filler. Ask to purchase a small amount of fresh flower food to add to your vase. Re-use a clear glass vase from home, choose a mason jar, or even use a glass pitcher. Gently place river rocks or polished stones in the bottom of the container. Fill it with 4 or 5 inches of lukewarm water and add the flower food. Strip the foliage from each stem that would fall below the water line to prevent a build-up of bacteria. Re-cut each flower stem with a sharp, slant cut for better water absorption, before placing it in the vase of fresh water.

View these cornucopia photos from the Valley Idol contest to get other ideas of color combinations and flower selection. Ask your florist to make suggestions of flowers you can enjoy using at home. Create. Design. Enjoy!

Celebrate life with flowers!

Anthurium CornucopiaCORNucopiaJasmine

If you are planning a party at home, you will probably make a run to the grocery store to pick up food supplies. While pushing your cart through the aisles, you may be tempted to grab a bunch of fresh flowers for the table as well. Are you puzzled about how to tell which ones are freshest and will last until your party even if it is several days away? If there is no one available in that department to ask, there are several quick, easy guidelines to use in deciding which flowers might be freshest. Here are a few suggestions:

Roses that are fully opened are beautiful. In some varieties that can be a sign that they are older roses, but in other varieties they can be large and wide open at a very early stage. So, being wide open is not always a telltale sign. Also, roses can sometimes still be in bud form and be old because they simply failed to open and will die in the unopened stage. One quick test is to gently squeeze the outside of the bloom at the base of the petals, just above the calyx. The bloom should be firm not soft. A very soft feeling rose is older and more likely to shatter (its petals fall off). A tighter feel at the base, means that the petals are still firmly attached and the flower will continue to open and last several more days.

Lily petals should look dense. Thin and papery looking petals means that the bloom is old. Ideally if you are choosing a lily stem you would like to find one that still has buds that are unopened. Yellow leaves, stem, or bud means the flower is old or has not been properly hydrated.

Daisy poms or other chrysanthemums should be firm and not shatter easily. Shattering and losing their petals is a sign of advanced age. Another telling sign for this flower is a yellow or brown stem or leaves.

Gerbera daisies should have firm petals that are not turning loose or drying up where they attach to the flower center. Browning or limp petals is not a sign of freshness. The same applies to sunflowers, and asters.

Brown, yellow, limp or withered leaves on any stem of flowers indicates that they are aging or have not been kept in the right amount of cool temperature or hydrated properly. Those stems would be good to avoid if you are looking for flower longevity.

You can also drop by your local florist and ask for their advice when selecting fresh flowers for your table. These floral professionals can guide you toward the freshest and most long-lasting flowers.

If you have questions about how to choose other flower varieties, ask them on the discussion board on this blog.

Most importantly, always remember to celebrate the special occasions with flowers!

I am getting lots of requests for my new book, FLOWERS OF THE HEART. To those of you who are sending the requests, creating the buzz, and spreading the word – THANK YOU! I appreciate you! Please be sure to continue to alert any new brides-to-be or wedding designers about the book as it can be very useful to them in creating wedding plans.

Among some of the most favorite elements of the book are 50 flower-savvy design tips scattered throughout the pages. This one is for floral enthusiasts who grow their own flowers and want to enjoy them indoors:

“The best time to gather outdoor flowers or foliage to use in design work is early in the morning or early in the evening. There will be less heat from the sun at those times of day resulting in flowers that are crisp and less dehydrated. Immediately process flowers, by removing foliages, cutting the stems with a sharp diagonal cut, and placing them in 5” – 7” of warm water that has flower food added. Foliage should be washed and sealed in a large plastic bag along with damp paper toweling for refrigeration. Spray with foliage preservative before using in designs.”

Now that the book has been fully released, I will have more time to add those and other floral tips, trends, and techniques into this blog. Be sure to check back weekly for new additions. If you have questions about flowers visit us on Facebook under both Sharon McGukin and Flowers of the heart or send me a tweet via twitter (sharonmcgukin). Download an order form for the book by clicking on Book Order Form (in bold print) below, email: for a form or call 770.832.1897 to place an order and get a personalized copy from the first edition for yourself or a friend. Just in time for the fall season which is quickly becoming the favorite time of the year for weddings! Book Order form DSC_0204

Celebrate life with flowers!