As spring emerges, so does my creativity. Point in case, who said that flowers were the only acceptable table display? Mother Nature provides us with so many lush, green and edible textures, typically referred to as “produce” by many of us, so why not merge the two in a glass vessel? When you do you have what I like to call the “Vita, Veta, Vegi Vase.” Clever, right?
Let me explain. Each year, I have a plethora of peonies and I challenge myself to come up with new and creative ways to show them off. For example, one simple breathtaking peony flower can take center stage and top billing with a backdrop of bright green, raw asparagus. The bud-like tips — asparagus is actually a flowering perennial — provide the perfect texture and backdrop to the delicate and fragrant bloom, as their buds will open as the days go by. This sexy marriage is the perfect “his and hers” combo, the asparagus the male and the peony, the female. Wow”_what a harmonious integration of nature!
You’ll find it is simple to do, as it only requires a single bunch of asparagus and one peony blossom freshly picked from the garden. Choose a flat-sided, relatively short glass vase to maximize the impact. Roses work well in place of peonies, so you can try this throughout the seasons. A quick trip to the grocery store gets you everything you need for this project.
Mass produced roses are perfect because you don’t want or need long stems. With roses it’s likely that you will need more than one flower to fill the space, so alternate the roses and the asparagus for a uniquely integrated design.
Before I continue with more ideas around this theme, I must tell you that I prefer not to see the stems of the roses. Just my own personal preference but it’s worth mentioning because in my effort to hide the stems, I came up with these next ideas.
Now, for a couple of other interesting and unique presentations of the “Vita, Veta, Vegi Vase” theme, let’s talk kale.
While kale may be known as the most nutritious vegetable on the planet, for me it’s the most versatile; you can use it as a base under raw vegetables on a serving platter, you can eat it (including an amazing kale chip recipe here on marjennings.com), or — like me — put it in a vase to hide stems! I like to do all three. When I’m using it in a vase, I wrap it around the perimeter of the glass vessel before adding water, then place the roses in the center.
By the way, here’s how to get the roses in a perfect half-moon shape. Build the arrangement out of the water: Start with one rose, and how it by the stem. Then add one flower at a time, building a bouquet, and when placing each flower keep the heads of the flowers at the same level (the stems will be uneven). Once you have them all in one hand, cut the stems short enough to allow a rubber band to easily go over the stems and place it about three or four inches from the blooms (closer to the blooms if you have only a few.) The long stems will fan out at this point, so now cut the stems two to three inches below the rubber band, depending on the size of the vessel. This creates a single bunch and allows the flowers to nestle on top of the vase, creating a dazzling half-moon effect.
Fill with water and add a dash of sparkling water. It adds a touch of whimsy as the bubbles cling to the wrinkles in the leaves highlighting their beauty and texture. I do this anytime I want to emphasize not just the flowers, but the creative vessel design as well. You can even add this touch right before guests arrive to make sure your roses are bubbling!
Did I mention Brussels sprouts? These are amazing as a base in your vase but a bit more challenging as one must weave the flower stems between the sprouts to secure them. A short square vase works best for this. Put the sprouts in first and then add water and sparkling water. Cut the stems of the roses to the height you wish, and place them one by one between the Brussels sprouts. Voila!
A common application of the produce theme is to use sliced lemons and limes. The sMARt tip for this is to use a vase within a vase, allowing you the space between the two vases to place the slices. Backfill with water and compliment with sparkling water, as I do, and you have kicked it up a notch.
Another sMARt tip to hide the stems of cut flowers is to use dried black, red or white beans. You can even use chickpeas if it will compliment your color scheme. This works well in any vase, tall or short. Simply fill with the dried beans and add water. The stems of the flowers will slide right into the beans and remain secure. Fill with water only to the height of the beans as the water may take on the color of the beans you are using, especially black beans. If you are changing the water every couple of days, as you should, this will not be an issue.
Lastly, there are several options for using this idea with dried flowers. My favorite dried flower will always be hydrangea, of course. I like to secure the stems of several flowers together with a rubber band and then stick it down into the center of lentils, or orange or black or even dried green peas. This gives texture on top of texture. Depending on the color of your flowers, you can even use black-eyed peas or dried beans of any color. Lentils work better for dried arrangements, as they will float in water.
So, the next time you pop out for flowers, don’t poop out of great ideas. Vamp it up with the “Vita, Veta, Vegi Vase.! You’ve got everything you need to validate your creative venture: vegetables, vitamins, visual interest and the vital ingredient” …versatility!
And there you have it!