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Creative bouquets can brighten a home

Creative bouquets can brighten a home

Margaret Hooper shows how to use anything for arranging flowers — like a child's bucket and shovel — during a Turlock Garden Club meeting.

POSTED April 24, 2013 4:05 p.m.

Flower bouquets can bring the sights and smells of springtime into any home, no matter the weather outside.

Margaret Hooper, former owner of Nature’s Own Florist in Modesto, believes that a little creativity is the key difference between a boring bouquet and an extravagant arrangement.

Not only is Hooper a retired florist, but she comes from a long line of gardeners and agriculturalists including nine aunts who were all named after flowers. Hooper’s mother, who was the previous owner and florist of the family business, married a nursery man.

Dorothy Hooper’s excellence in floristry did not end there. She taught local students at Modesto Junior College, and was previously a Master Judge for the State of California. Both spouses were also superintendents of the Floriculture Department at the Stanislaus County Fair for 14 years, before eventually giving up their stations.

“I was simply raised into it,” said Hooper. “And you can’t turn your back when you are presented with that kind of knowledge.”

Despite her infatuation for flowers, Hooper did not like running her mother’s business, and eventually opted out in January, after running the business for 35 years. It was her hope to reach a broader audience, to showcase at local clubs, and re-immerse herself in constructing arrangements.

 “You don’t have to buy flowers to make your bouquet pretty,” said Hooper. “Use basic flowers from your garden as fillers, or focal features. You can open your cupboards and find anything to put flowers in. All you need to do is make arrangements to go along with them.”

Hooper demonstrated her capabilities at a Turlock Garden Club meeting earlier this month. Objects such as tea cups, earrings, beads, and even children’s play things were used in her arrangements to add an element of personality.

“You can really make an arrangement out of anything,” said Hooper. “Champagne glasses, empty baskets, or even scraps of lace and fabric. They all work if you just play with them a little.”

One of the arrangements that garnered the most attention from the membership was a beach bucket used to house a floral arrangement, courtesy of Hooper’s grandson. A small shovel and pail were on either side, resting on the lid just above the packed dirt. In this feature, she showcased the importance of not throwing anything away.

“Mossy branches, birches, are becoming more and more popular. It is important to never throw away these assets. Just because they don’t look pretty by themselves doesn’t mean that they will not work in an arrangement.”

Hooper also acknowledged the importance of conditioning flowers, and states that the best time to cut flowers is at the end of the day, specifically if it is sunny. According to her mother, that is when the flowers have built up a good carbohydrate supply throughout the day.

Though you can use anything to act as a vase for flowers, it is also important to scrub containers frequently with soap and water to destroy bacteria. Placing the ends of flowers in boiling water for a minute does the same thing as re-cutting stems under water, and expands the air in the stem tubs of the flowers so that water can rush up faster, keeping it fresh longer.

Though Hooper is no longer on hand for landscaping needs, she will always offer a friendly word of advice for first time or veteran gardeners.

Hooper’s final floral lesson: keep it simple.

“Pick a color and a flower and work with it. Add in plants as you go. It is a growing process. Like flowers, we are always growing too.”

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