The traditional French way to make a flower arrangement

When Louis Brunet and Olivier Plusquellec moved from France to the United States, they were dismayed to find that the flower selection was not exactly up to Paris. In particular, Burnet and Plusquellec were struck by the lack of quality roses readily available for purchase in New York. Flash forward to the present day, and Brunet and Plusquellec have their own New York-based flower delivery business. Ode to the Rose is a classy alternative to your regular 1-800 service, but with a bit of a twist. All of their bouquets are made using the traditional French method of creating a hand-tied bouquet. Confuses? U.S. too. Below, Burnet and Plusquellec detail exactly how the French make flower arrangements.

Photo: BR Sinclair

Step 1: Selection

It is not necessary to have more than three varieties of flowers in a bouquet. The color palette should be tonal, nonchalant and not overly busy. So choose flowers that go together, and don’t forget the foliage, as it complements the flowers well. Be careful, however, not to use too much greenery; you don’t want to make a weed arrangement.

Photo: BR Sinclair

Step 2: Preparation

Trim the leaves of your flowers with your hands or with a quick but firm slice of a knife. If you picked fresh flowers, they will still have their guard petals. It is the sturdy outer petals that protect the flowers from the elements. You can remove the guard petals if you prefer a neater look.

Photo: BR Sinclair

Step 3: Creation

The French style of creating a bouquet is a classic technique requiring minimal fuss. The main point is that it’s all in the wrist. Start by holding the first three or four flowers between your thumb and forefinger, and twist! Add flowers as desired, and until balance is achieved on each side. The trick to a successful circular bouquet is to add your flowers from the same angle. This will lead to a nice twist of rods. Use your base flowers first, sprinkle greens here and there, and repeat until the bouquet is balanced.

Photo: BR Sinclair

Step 4: Hand tie

Starting from the back, wrap your ribbon or raffia tightly around the arrangement several times. Once tied, tie a small knot and cut the short strand. With fresh flowers, you’ll want to give them room to bloom, so make your tie low.

Photo: BR Sinclair

Step 5: Final touches

Terisa K. Carn