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Start summer now with flowers and care tips

by: Vern Uyetake, Richard Bloom, owner of R Bloom’s Lake Oswego, demonstrates the dramatic effect that tropical flowers mixed with roses and solder wire can create.

Living in the Northwest we're immune to all four seasons of the year - and all the gray and rainy days in between. Even though we're nearly four months away from summer, homeowners can incorporate bright flowers to remind us of sunnier times.

Richard Bloom, owner of R Bloom's Lake Oswego flower shop, said that it's okay to 'trick our minds' into thinking it's the middle of summer. He suggested 10 ways to make flowers last longer, look better and enhance mood for this strange seasonal time of year:

1. If a flower wilts, replace it with silk: Orchids - often found in bridal bouquets and given on Mother's Day - are coming into season, said Bloom. The Cymbidiam orchid likes the cooler temperatures of the Northwest as well as being outside in summertime. But if the flowering part doesn't last through several seasons, just replace it with a fake flower.

'When they are done blooming and dry up, you can put an artificial flower in with the green foliage. You can't tell the difference,' said Bloom.

Often, silk flowers are hand painted and made of materials to resemble the natural flower.

2. Rotate flowers with the seasons: Many homeowners change their décor year round; dark bedspreads, flannels, and table runners are often replaced with softer colors and linens in the summertime. Bloom suggests rotating flowers also.

'Add little accents like hand-gathered artificial flowers. They're not super expensive. Choose flowers and change them according to your color scheme for the seasons. With each season you rotate a bouquet,' said Bloom.

Tie a bouquet of seasonal silk flowers with a ribbon and place them on a dresser next to a bed for added color. Buy several bouquets for the different seasons and store them year-round.

3. Sunflowers add a touch of sunshine: Sunflowers can be used to accent table arrangements.

'We don't get (sunflowers) in our gardens until July and August but (at the shop) we're getting them in,' said Bloom. 'Use a fresh sunflower - you only need one - and float it in a bowl for color. You don't need a huge bunch. You could just (cut the stem off), put it in a clear bowl (with water) and float it.'

4. Keep it simple: Instead of picking one of everything or avoiding flowers altogether, keep it simple - choose a color scheme and flower scheme.

'If you're going to do color I think it's better to do one color or minor accent colors. Many arrangements only have three colors,' said Bloom. 'Many people think I can't do an 'arrangement.' Go simple, do one (type of) flower, or do three flowers.'

Artificial berries can be mixed with fresh florals for added color and texture. And they can be saved to be used with another arrangement next season.

5. Tropical flowers last long: Blend tropical flowers with local blooms to create a display that incorporates a mix of pretty places around the world.

'These flowers are heartier (than others). They have to be able to survive in a tropical environment. They tend to last longer,' said Bloom.

6. Evening party? Add glitter: Before evening guests arrive, the candles are lit and decorations are arranged, don't forget to enhance floral displays.

'Dip leaves with gold glitter. You're not crossing over into the 'Christmas zone' but a festive party (feel),' said Bloom. 'Use a floral spray glue. The foliage can breath through it and then you dip (the stems or petals) into glitter.'

7. Arrange below the glass: For a modern look, floral table centerpiece that won't block guests' faces and just something different, arrange flowers below the opening of the vase.

'With these everything is arranged inside the glass,' said Bloom. 'A lot of people have small spaces but you can still do interesting things with color. Put it in just a little bit of water.'

Do not submerge the flowers in water because they will break down quickly, Bloom said. Instead, put a small amount of water at the bottom, then add the flowers. That's it.

8. Flowers and beyond: For added texture, look no further than your own backyard. Add rocks at the bottom of a vase for a natural, botanical look. For something more whimsical wrap colorful wire within floral arrangements.

'If you're contemporary, just add solder wire. It's soft and pliable and adds color,' said Bloom.

9. Wash flower stems with soap: Bloom said that changing water every other day could double the flower's life.

And while you change the water give the flowers a fresh cut and add a little soap.

'You can always add water enhancement foods, but without fresh water the flowers start breaking down as bacteria starts forming. Wash your stems with an antibacterial soap, like hand soap,' said Bloom. 'It cuts down the bacterial growth in the water.'

10. Do the 'two person transfer': For fancy floral arrangements - store bought or just one that took special efforts to make everything look just right - use what Bloom calls the 'two person transfer' to keep the water and stems fresh.

'One person goes around and holds the flowers and pulls them straight up out of the container and they hold them, and the second person changes the water. Then you literally just drop them back down (into the vase),' said Bloom. 'That way you're not losing the integrity of the arrangement.'

R Bloom's of Lake Oswego is located at 449 Third Street and can be reached by phone at 503-636-5876. Visit the store online at http://www.rblooms.com/index.htm.