Florist and illustrator Cathy Graham is queen of the informal but fabulous flower arrangement. Here’s how to re-create her sought-after signature looks
Cathy sketches in her sunlit studio seven days a week, as well as selecting the colours, textures and varieties for her flower arrangements
Climbing roses cover the side of the shingled playhouse in the garden of Cathy’s Nantucket, Massachusetts home – a favourite haunt for her children when they were young
HOW TO PEP UP YOUR PETALS
Before you start arranging, ensure that your flowers are properly conditioned to prolong their life
Fill a bouquet container halfway with water and arrange the flowers as you wish. Replenish the water every two days, repeating the cutting process each time
Before you start arranging, ensure that your flowers are properly conditioned to prolong their life. Here are Cathy’s seven steps to getting the most out of your blooms.
1 Fill a bucket with room-temperature water, a third of the way up.
2 Pluck any weak leaves from your flowers– a sharp knife or garden shears can be used to remove the tougher ones. Do not use a sawing motion as this could damage the stems.
3 Remove any thorns from the stem with a sharp knife or shears.
4 At a 45-degree angle, make a fresh cut one inch from the base of the stem. This will help the blooms to absorb water easily. Flowers such as poppies that bleed milky sap need to be seared by placing the end of the stem over a flame. This will preserve moisture.
5 Place each flower in the bucket as soon as you cut the stem.
6 Place the bucket in a cool place, away from direct sunlight, and let the flowers drink for several hours before arranging them.
7 Fill a bouquet container halfway with water and arrange the flowers as you wish. Replenish the water every two days, repeating the cutting process each time.
Your essential snip kit
THE FIELD OF FLOWERS CENTREPIECE
One of Cathy’s signature table arrangements is a still-life design achieved by placing individual cut flowers in a selection of bottles
Remove any excess leaves from the stems so that they can fit in the bottles
Cathy’s favourite blooms for this arrangement include peonies, ranunculus, tulips, carnations, garden roses and pansies
One of Cathy’s signature table arrangements is a still-life design achieved by placing individual cut flowers in a selection of bottles. Her favourite blooms for this include peonies, ranunculus, tulips, carnations, garden roses and pansies.
1 Choose a selection of glass bottles in different sizes, shapes and colours. For similar, try Etsy (etsy.com).
2 Pick a range of flowers that differ in texture and colour intensity.
3 Remove any excess leaves from the stems so that they can fit in the bottles.
4 Cut the stems to different heights to add depth and variety. Each cut should be at a 45-degree angle so that the blooms can absorb water easily.
5 Place each flower in its own bottle then arrange as you please.
Set a playful table
A PERFECT REARRANGEMENT
‘Flowers set the tone and mood for the day and add to the atmosphere you wish to create,’ says Cathy, who likes to use blooms as a way to redecorate her home. Cushions and accessories can remain the same but the one thing that changes constantly is the flowers.
In the dining room, Cathy has festooned a sideboard with foxgloves, garden roses, passion flower vines and dianthus. For the dining table centrepiece she created a luxuriant bouquet of pink, lavender and blue hydrangeas mixed with peach foxgloves. For a similar chandelier, try Petersham Nurseries (petershamnurseries.com)
Cathy’s cat Reggie gives his sniff of approval
Top of the pots
BRASS URN, £155, Houseology, houseology.com. CERAMIC PLANTER, £52, Oka, oka.com. GLASS VASE set, £3.50, Barker and Stonehouse, barkerandstonehouse.co.uk. VESSEL, £80, Petersham Nurseries, petershamnurseries.com
This is an edited extract from Second Bloom: Cathy Graham’s Art Of The Table by Alexis Clark, published by Vendome Press, price £29.95. To order a copy for £23.96 (a 20 per cent discount) until 28 January, visit you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15