Walk into Wild Things Flowers & Curiosities in Homewood and a sweet, botanical aroma fills the air; great music, both trendy and timeless, establishes a laid-back feel; a selection of artisanal popcorn and wine greets visitors; and the chic shop’s gifts and curiosities, beautifully curated and displayed, are an invitation to explore.
Buckets of flowers surround two large work tables in the floral workshop space, where shop owner and lead florist Carolyn Chen is at work, calmly setting the stage, lining up floral snips, compact vases, and “flower formula” cards. She greets visitors as they enter and invites them to grab a nibble or sip, peruse the shop, or grab a spot at the work tables.
The team at Wild Things prepares in the morning, processing hundreds of flowers for workshop attendees to choose from.
Once all of the guests arrive, Carolyn begins the floral workshop on Thanksgiving Centerpieces with a brief summary of her background and how she got into floral design. She shares what she is thankful for this Thanksgiving: her appreciation of Birmingham’s community and the kind, supportive positive people she encounters every day who want to spread love and joy through flowers and other acts of kindness. She invites everyone to share their names and what they are grateful for this holiday season. Most give thanks for healthy friends and family, creating a clear sense of excitement at the impending Thanksgiving celebrations with loved ones at tables that will be anchored by these centerpieces.
She then dives in, demonstrating how she makes a Thanksgiving centerpiece with helpful tips and expert advice. Here’s what we learned in this fabulous interactive workshop.
Carolyn leads the workshop, giving tips and tricks with each stem she puts into the arrangement.
Set the Foundation
First, choose your vessel. Then cut a chunk of wet floral foam that fits tightly into your vase, and trim the corner edges so the water stays in your vessel. Very snugly affix two thin strips of florist’s tape across the top of the foam and onto a half-inch of the outside edge of the vase edge, then secure those pieces of tape on the outside of the vase with one piece of tape encircling the entire top edge of the vase.
Create the Structural Shape of the Centerpiece
Once you have a sturdy base, the next step is to create the bones of the centerpiece with greenery. Some people like a round, symmetrical arrangement; while others enjoy a more asymmetrical, wild look. Create the shape you prefer with two or three different types of greenery, giving a sparse suggestion of the intended look. Always turn the arrangement as if it were on a lazy Susan to see it from every angle throughout the creative process. The only exception is if the arrangement will be on a sideboard table or buffet and will only be seen from one angle – then you’ll want to create a “one-sided” arrangement.
Fill in with Statement-Making Blooms
For this arrangement, we had an array of hydrangeas. Place these larger statement-making flowers in your arrangement, then come back with around eight smaller flowers. We had plenty of options including roses, gerbera daisies, stock, snapdragons, hypericum, mums, and kale among other fall-themed blooms. Strip the leaves off of the stem, especially where the stem is inserted into the foam. Snip the stem at an angle to create a sharp, precise entry into the foam, as you want to stab the foam as few times as possible, so you retain a firm base. One fun tip we learned: Roses have “guard petals” that look a bit rougher than the inner petals. You can remove these, and if your rose blossom is tight, a clever and easy way to coax them open is by blowing directly into the center of the flower.
Fluff with Filler
Grab around five filler stems, things like berries, tiny wildflowers, and thistle. Fill in the arrangement with these stems. Then come back with your greenery choices and further fill in, hiding the tape along the edge of your vase and creating a fullness where necessary.
Carolyn’s demonstration arrangement beginning to take shape. Busy hands in the workshop creating their Thanksgiving centerpieces.
Carolyn was great about walking around the classroom setting and helping each aspiring florist troubleshoot and “fluff” their arrangement. Guests began to feel their pieces were complete and lively chatter and perusal of the fabulous shop ensued. Guests bought shop items and exchanged cheerful ‘Goodbyes’ and ‘Happy Thanksgivings.’ And with beautiful centerpieces in their arms and bright smiles on their faces, each budding florist left the vibrant little shop and headed towards Thanksgiving armed with gorgeous flowers to brighten their gatherings with loved ones.
Book your spot in one of our upcoming floral workshops here.