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Fond du Lac - As she completed four flower arrangements during a presentation at the 2017 “Day in a Garden” program sponsored by the Fond du Lac County Master Gardeners Association, Tina Nohl of The Wreath Factory near Plymouth in Sheboygan County shared numerous tips on how to approach and improve the technique.

Those hints will help to keep the arrangements fresh for longer periods, Nohl promised. From her 17 years of experience, she has learned how particular plants affect that goal.
As she designs an arrangement, Nohl strives to use flowers, twigs, leaves, sprigs, grasses, and any other living and even artificial materials to portray balance and scale in a way that combines shapes and colors into a visually pleasing product.

Popular trends
 

What's trendy is an emphasis on architectural and structured looks and away from color, Nohl observed. Among the plants, “hens and chicks are all the rage,” air plants which survive in high humidity without being rooted are in demand, “moss is popular,” and succulents secured with small wires and roots in light soil are also popular, she indicated.

With the arrival of spring and the availability of its well-known flowers, don't attempt to mix daffodils with others in a display, Nohl warned. That's because they emit a toxin when their stem is cut, resulting in the killing of other plants and reducing the effective life of an arrangement by one half, she explained. Meanwhile, Nohl has found that tulips fare well when placed in vodka rather than water.

Whatever the water source, Nohl emphasized that it needs to be fresh, that vases should be emptied rather than merely being replenished, that plant leaves should not be touching the water, and that the grass stems need to be submerged in the water. In addition, she finds that putting a splash of bleach into the water will increase the time that an arrangement stays vibrant.

Practical procedures
 

During her presentation at the program here, Nohl started with a nest made from twigs and dried grasses as her working base. For her second demonstration, she used a wooden bowl as the frame.

For both of them, the placement of a properly cut piece of floral foam is essential, Nohl pointed out. It serves both as a sponge for holding water and as platform for inserting the stems of the flowers and plants in order to keep them in place, she indicated.

The cutting angle, on a slant, rather than straight across, boosts the water intake zone, especially with roses, Nohl observed. Among the many other choices that she listed are boxwood twigs, greens with a citrus scent, the many types of sedums at any stage of growth, hosta leaves, alliums (spray painted if necessary), hydrangeas, Solomon seals, and the hypericum berries that are available in many colors.

In the spring, Nohl likes to work with bare cuttings of the curly willow as the structural anchor for arrangements. She also did that during her presentation here, using floral tape and floral glue to hold materials in place, bending calla lily stems to fit the arrangement's design, lengthening grass stems by taping them to previously clipped lower stems from roses, and fluffing or extending the leaves of some plants to make them more visually appealing.

Among the other possibilities that Nohl chooses are some of the 20 species of helleborus (herbaceous evergreens that tolerate frost and that bloom in the winter and early spring), salvia, ferns, lady's mantle, fruits, bamboo, grape vines, Queen Anne's lace, cosmos, the long-lasting gladiola, orchids, hops, sage, lilies of the valley, peonies, daisies, billy buttons, and the tropical protea.

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