One of the advantages to living in the southeast is the abundance of rain we get, and with that, the abundance of flowers.

When I first moved to Atlanta from the southwest, I was enthralled with all the trees, the greenery, and the shrubs. It took me a while to figure out what flowers and plants would do well here. Needless to say I was overjoyed to find that hydrangeas of every variety grow like weeds here.

Now in my garden I’m blessed to have a virtual hydrangea farm. This wet, lush, summer has produced a bumper crop and an endless supply of fresh cut mop head hydrangeas for the house and for DJ’s office.

Hydrangeas are among the most romantic flowers. They are also very simple to arrange- even the novice can master it. The sheer volume of their massive heads lends itself to short, compact arrangements. You’ll want to use a vase that holds a lot of water, as these girls are very thirsty. They are well suited to bottles with narrow necks and large bodies, or cylinders such as the one I use on our living room coffee table. Fill the clean vessel with lukewarm water from the tap. Give the hydrangeas you’ve harvested or bought from the market a light shower on their heads, or you can fill a basin with cool water and submerge them. Hydrangea’s are one of the few flowers that actually can drink up water from their voluminous blossoms. Prior to arranging they will appreciate this big gulp of water. Once the heads have dripped dry on a towel shake them in the sink to get the excess out of the many folds and layers. Remove all but two or three leaves (leaves will steal water from the flower head and cause your blooms to droop and wilt). Give the stem a good long diagonal cut by slicing the stem lengthwise, away from your body, with a good sharp paring knife. You’ll want to see some of the white, meaty, inner core of the stem exposed, especially if your flower is on a woody stem. Then put the stem in the water.

In a big vase, like my fat glass cylinder, you’ll want to start by laying in a ring of hydrangeas around the perimeter edge of the vase, like a donut. Build up several rings until the center starts to close in, and you have a nice mushroom head shape. Once you have the foundation mound completed you can add longer stems to the bouquet if you like a loose more wild look. Voila- you have a stunning bouquet that should last a week or more.

To keep the flowers looking good, change the water every other day and wash the vase to prevent bacteria from building up. If a bloom wilts, simply give it a good bath in cool water in the sink, slice a fresh cut on the stem, and put it back in the water. This will usually keep your flowers looking good. Enjoy!

Be well.