Branching out. Flower arranging with shrubs.

For the second time this year I realized that I could deal with unwieldy shrubs and fill my house with flowers all at the same time.

Earlier this year I dealt with a particularly aggressive rose bush by clipping off a few of the branches and bringing them inside. The rose bush got cleaned up and the dining room buffet got a little snappier.

Now, it’s another rose that’s out of control. I have a Rose of Sharon shrub that has developed into more of a weeping willow. A weeping Sharon I guess you could say. The branches are literally bending over and touching the ground. I’m not usually one to complain when something bends over backwards for me, but when they contort themselves to the point of looking foolish, I feel I must put a stop to it.

So I started hacking.



Before I put the branches into the jug, I cut the bottom of the branches with pruners vertically up about 4 inches. So the bottom of the branch was split in two, allowing a lot more room for the plant to suck up water.

I expected the branches to be dead by morning, or at the very least looking forlorn. But it’s been 3 days now and they still look perfect. The flowers are fine and new ones are opening.

So if you have a yard (or you have access to someone else’s yard) take a look outside for what you can hack. This time of year you can look for Hydrangeas, Rose of Sharon, Rose branches, Sedum, and Hosta flowers. Of course there are many more you can cut but those are the ones I can actually see from my window right now, so I figured I’d go with those. No use using my imagination if I don’t have to.

You think this hacking is impressive?  You should see me with a computer.  Just as fun but the end results aren’t nearly as pretty.


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  1. Beautiful flowers, nice pictures. In Florerias en Monterrey you could see another amazing flowers.

  2. Jayson says:

    Wonderful arrangement and I liked the container as well. I often make such kind of floral arrangements at my home that enhances the appearance of my home in a better way.

  3. Julie says:

    those look awesome! I am thinking that I may just have to give this a go!

    • Karen says:

      I was going to do it again today Julie, but when I walked outside I realized all the flowers on my branches were gone. Boo. ~ karen!

  4. Chrissy says:

    I’m afraid of bugs living in the blooms and bringing them into the house… do you have this issue? We have a lot of earwigs.

  5. Jenny says:

    Ah Karen, you have motivated me! I have a desk almost exactly like that, but it’s still at my parents and I keep putting off bringing it over. I’m sure my Mother would thank you…

  6. Maryanne says:

    What a great idea! Going over to my neighbors to groom his Rose of Sharon that is all over the place. We both win!

  7. Carole Moore says:

    Recently stumbled on your blog. Love your creative ideas and entertaining writing. Starts my day the right way!

  8. Tigersmom says:

    This is a tad off topic, but I can’t believe I’ve never seen that desk before. It’s beautiful.

    I recently bought an antique sideboard to put under the TV in our den and bought very similar drawer pulls for it. I used them upside down because they centered on my drawers better and I just liked how they looked that way on my piece better, too. Not sure how that would look on yours, I think it would depend on the screw receptacle placement on the back. Beautiful piece though. And I like how you have it mixed with more modern items. Fancier antique pieces, to me, need to remain very few, like one, to a room, in order to keep from taking the whole thing to a scary sort of grandma look.

    This is way off topic, but I was looking at some photos from my life at a time that I have few memories of (due to my tender age, not drugs or alcohol) and got confirmation on something. We DID have that same 3 pronged wooden midcentury lamp that you have a pair of (one of which is still in your basement). Not only that, we had it’s big sister in the form of a matching floor lamp! Ours each had a tall somewhat narrow drum shade that obscured the “antler tips.” Meaning the height of the drum shade was greater than its width. I think today they’d look really cool with a wider shorter drum shade with opposite proportions. Just sayin’.

  9. dana gault says:

    YAAAAAY Karen! You know, I’m such a mom I worry LOL!

    Come speak in Phoenix…because of you, my 20-year-old daughter is building a chicken coop, and will soon brings home the chicks! I’m naming mine Helen =) She is bummed about the coop cam but so loved your coop decorated for the holidays that she cannot stop talking about it. We are excited!

  10. dana gault says:

    Yeah well, you know what, girly? I daresay you’re entitled to be a little messy right now. And when you’re up to tidying, I hope it will be cathartic. If I know one thing about you, it’s that you can’t let Halloween go by without an all-out haunting, so hang in there! The inspiration will come back =)

    • Karen says:

      OH! Hah! Don’t worry about me. THAT’s not why I’m in a mess! I’m actually doing great. In addition to speaking at a conference this weekend, writing my blog, doing my regular this time of year canning and harvesting, I’ve decided to rip some walls down just for fun. That’s the reason for the mess! :) ~ karen

  11. dana gault says:

    You photo is incredible, Karen, everything I love about home design–classic desk, modern chair, organic floral arrangement, and a little rustic pitcher. Pinning it!

    • Karen says:

      I didn’t actually look at it that way, but you might be right, LOL. Looks pretty good. :) At this particular moment it’s the only thing that looks good in the house. I’m in a bit of mess. A big mess actually. ~ karen!

  12. Carole says:

    What a great idea. Love that desk and ghost chair too.

  13. Pattie says:

    Hi Karen,
    Off topic I know but please, I don’t seem to be able to view the coop camera anymore. When I click I get taken to the page where I am welcomed to the coop camera and told how to log in. I know how to log in…….I just can’t get to that log in place.
    What to do?
    And by the way I love your site, your ideas and especially your humor!

  14. Debbie says:

    Gorgeous, the desk and the flowers. So clean and tidy, not my home.

  15. toekneetoni says:

    very nice!

  16. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Beautiful the desk!

  17. gabrielle says:

    I fell in love with Old Garden Roses (varietis documented from the 1700’s and earlier, back to medieval times) years ago, and have many varieties chosen for their antique form and scent.

    The thing is, they tend to bloom on stems that are too short for the usual arrangement without sacrificing small developing buds. I tried floating rose bowls, but it was fussy and not satisfying. Then I hit on using an old glass container (canning jar or milk bottle) filled with marbles to anchor the flowers into simulating a larger bouquet with big, droopy blossoms that weep petals one by one. Love the look and the fragrance!

    I find that city tap water keeps them fresh longer than rain water; let it stand to room temperature so that it is warmer than outside, but still with a bit of chlorine to keep the stems and marbles clean. Recut stems before they look tired to extend life and add new blooms.

  18. Nancy says:

    I used to root cuttings of Rose of Sharon’s so that maybe why it’s staying so fresh. You might have more shrubs.

  19. jainegayer says:

    Thank you for the tip on how to cut the stems. I am going to try this on my roses.
    ps- I tried your maple syrup dressing on the salad your sister loved. I made it the last 2 nights. OMG!!!! I didn’t have the pecans in the house so I used honey roasted sesame sticks instead. Delicious! My boyfriend LOVED it! Today, I’m making your creamy pesto. And freezing it. OK, I need to step away from my laptop…but Karen, I am so enjoying your blog every morning with my coffee. Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Jaine! ~ karen

    • j says:

      Maple salad dressing, creamy pesto—where can I find the recipes? They sound awSUM!
      love your site-have I said that before?-love it!

      And my sweet potato has roots! [ Ok, one rotted, but one has roots!!] Woo We OH!

  20. saf affect says:

    Hostas from the garden are great for flower arranging too. Just a couple of the large leaves in a glass vase make a strong impact. The blooms work well as cut flowers too, many of which are quite strongly fragrant. Who knew! I didn’t until I saw these great ideas in use by my sis-in-law. Clever!

  21. Sandy says:

    This is an excellent idea! I will be hacking away today. Thanks.

  22. Feral Turtle says:

    You really have a green thumb with that weeping rose bush. I wish I could grow hydrangeas here. I would always have a big bouquet, whether fresh or dried.

  23. Susan Dulley says:

    I agree that this a fantastic way to bring a little of the Outdoors In. Cold water is the trick, and sometimes I will even add a little ice, if it is warm in the house. The roses on your table look beautiful and hopefully they will last for a few more days. When I worked in the Plant Nursery I would actually take a potato peeler and peel the outside skin from the branches, pound the branches with a hammer, or whatever was handy, which crushes the stems, but allows so much more water to be absorbed up and into the entire branch. We would use a lot of vases filled with flowering branches for the Home & Garden Show, so I know this works. Have a great day.

  24. Kim says:

    I took some unruly branches of the vigorous climber “New Dawn” to try and root them. It is a very lovely rose albeit the thorns are a bit vicious.

    Using mainly really wet sand mixed with a little potting soil. I hope it works!

    • SuzyM says:

      New Dawn roses actually root fairly easily, I would put an empty jar or glass or whatever fits over the cuttings for humidity. I’ve even done this right outside, in the soil. Root hormone does help the process along.

  25. Laura Bee` says:

    Good morning, just woke up from a dream about you. I was getting into my car somewhere & over top of a black door was a blonde head of hair. You were feeding the chickens. I introduced myself, and we chatted a bit. You were very nice & happy about something you had done recently. Kinds how I imagine it would be if I ever really met you. There was a whole lot of weird stuff before that, but I won’t share here.
    I’ll have to tell my neighbour about the ROS trick, she has a ton of them. She will probably share too.

  26. Ryan says:

    I like that idea. Whatever makes your garden look a little ugly, bring it in and make your interior look beautiful.

  27. qtpuh2tme says:

    Lovely arrangement. ~:)

  28. Barbie says:

    That is actually quite lovely….I really like the container you choose! My favorite shrub is Rose of Sharon…well one of my favorites!

  29. Auntiepatch says:

    Love the jug AND the desk!

  30. Sam Braun says:

    Ex-florist trick: use warm water for whatever you’re hackin’ (like baby bum warm)… The only flowery thingeys that need cold water are tulips (unless you want them to blow up in 5 minutes). Thou shalt always have flowery things in jugs :)… Awesome :)

  31. Marti says:

    Yes, yes, yes, but WHERE’S THE BONNET?

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