Floral Fun and Fanciness

Troy flower farm owner offers tips on creating a festive arrangement.

click to enlarge Taugher proudly stands among her flowers. - ZACH WILKINSON / INLAND 360
Zach Wilkinson / Inland 360
Taugher proudly stands among her flowers.


Flowers have been a passion for Mellifera Farm owner, Colleen Taugher, her entire life. With a background in art, design and agriculture, her flower farm outside of Troy is the ideal combination of her life’s passions. Here are her tips for creating the perfect bouquet for any summer festivity.

No. 1: Start with a focal flower. Focal flowers are the highlight of the bouquet. They are typically the largest flowers in the bunch and help set the foundation for what the greens and accent flowers will be. Taugher begins with a delicate, pastel purple poppy. With poppies, she suggests cauterizing the ends of the stems. This creates a barrier that helps retain the nutrients inside, allowing the flowers to last longer. Taugher recommends gathering a variety of sizes and textures in the flowers, while keeping a sense of unity in mind. She included poppy pods as well, to add style and dimension to the arrangement. “The beauty of an arrangement doesn’t all have to be from the flowers,” she said.

click to enlarge Taugher searches for poppy flowers to pick from her farm as she puts together a bouquet. - ZACH WILKINSON / INLAND 360
Zach Wilkinson / Inland 360
Taugher searches for poppy flowers to pick from her farm as she puts together a bouquet.

No. 2: Find your greens. Taugher used a bundle of dusty miller leaves, a pale sage green color, for her greens base. She suggests finding greens that will not only enhance the focal flower but provide texture to the arrangement as well.

No. 3: Select one or two accent flowers. They can be the same color as the focal flower to create a monochromatic look, or a contrasting color. Sticking with one color also is a simple way to ensure a beautiful and successful arrangement, because color can sometimes be overwhelming, Taugher said. Accent flowers are generally smaller than the focal flower. She chose gomphrena and cosmos, both in different shades of purple, to continue with a monochromatic look.

“I think a really good place to start is with your colors more than your flowers,” she said. “It’s easy to get distracted, and color gives you a little bit of structure.”

No. 4: Vital vase advice. The vase of choice needs to be clean enough that you would drink out of it, since flowers are very sensitive to bacteria, Taugher said. Fill the vase with water and add flower food. Flower food is composed of three elements: sugar to feed the flower, an antibacterial and a pH balancer. She advises trimming leaves that will sit below the water line to lengthen the bouquet life. Submerged leaves will decompose and add bacteria to the water, and it also limits the number of stems that can be placed in the vase.

No. 5: Build a base with greens. Greens not only give a structural foundation for the shape of the bouquet, but it also can give direction for the rest of the arrangement.

No.6: Time for the flowers: First, add the focal flowers.

click to enlarge Taugher trims the stem of a cosmos flower. - ZACH WILKINSON / INLAND 360
Zach Wilkinson / Inland 360
Taugher trims the stem of a cosmos flower.

“The trick with the flowers is to let them do what they want and play around with it,” Taugher said. “Don’t force them to move in a direction that’s unnatural to them.”

She recommends holding the flowers up outside the vase to compare height and trim the stems accordingly. Try to create a variety of height and sizes in the focal flowers, she said.

Then add in the accent flowers to give the arrangement a pop of color. Taugher recommends that flowers be a third of the vase’s height higher than the rim. Look at where the arrangement needs more height and variation and use the accent flowers to make these adjustments.

No. 7: The final touches. Walk around the vase or turn it to ensure that all angles are visually appealing.

click to enlarge The finished bouquet. - ZACH WILKINSON / INLAND 360
Zach Wilkinson / Inland 360
The finished bouquet.

“The trick with the flowers is to let them do what they want and play around with it,” Taugher said. “Don’t force them to move in a direction that’s unnatural to them.”

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Taugher, along with other respected florists, will be teaching these tips and more in a series of upcoming workshops. The workshops are an excellent way to boost confidence in floral designing abilities and to make the most of one's flowers, she said.

“I have so many customers that buy from me every week and say, ‘Colleen, I just take it and plunk it in a vase,’” she said. “People are afraid to cut the stems or do anything else with them. These workshops will help give you the skills to bring that nature into your own home and to potentially do your own flowers for your parties and events. It’s also just fun. To be able to be outside, be around beauty and connect with other people is pretty great.”

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