Notes from a Flower Farm: Muscari for Mother's Day
Ideas from Marigold and Mint about how to make a modern arrangement for mom with cheerful muscari and poppies. Plus: Tips for growing and harvesting muscari for arrangements.
Flower Arrangements for Mom
The moms I admire the most are grounded and brilliant, like my mom. Their minds are alive with all that they are passionate about, from their children to particle physics (again, that would be my mom).
In honor of all wonderful moms, I wanted to make a vibrant and modern arrangement for Mother’s Day.
Marigold and Mint is an organic farm, a retail shop, and a studio. The farm is situated along the Snoqualmie River, about 30 miles east of Seattle and the shop is located in the Melrose Market on Capitol Hill in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 2008 by owner Katherine Anderson, Marigold and Mint reflects her lifetime love of flowers and landscapes. Trained as a landscape architect, she brings her affection for both clean and clear design and intricate patterns to Marigold and Mint.
I happen to have some of my favorite blue flowers growing at the farm right now: Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’ and Muscari ‘Armenicum.’ They are easy to grow in the temperate Northwest: just plant them in the fall—as close together as eggs in a carton if you are growing for production—and they come back each year.
What is tedious is the harvest: I started it alone last week as my farm employee won’t do it. You need to get down on your knees and tug the stem firmly yet ever-so-gently near the base, until it disconnects and slides out from the bulb. This requires you to wiggle your fingers in between the leaves so as to pull out only the stem with the flower, leaving the bulb and greens in place. This may not sound so bad, but when there are hundreds, and the ground is wet, even your rain pants eventually get soaked through and your back gets oh-so-tired, no matter how many times you switch up your positions. But muscari are beautiful and have a sweet, soft fragrance and so I can’t resist growing them.
I took a walk down to far4, a gallery-cum-shop of amazing porcelain and glass objects from around the world here in Seattle. A poppy-red Middle Kingdom porcelain vase immediately caught my eye, as did some Decicio glass tumblers (hand-blown by Seattle artist Greg Clark) in shades of blue.
Cut and Place in Cool Water
For this project, I grouped both the pale ‘Valerie’ and the deep ‘Armenicum’ together into tight little bouquets. Once they are grouped together in your hand you can cut them in one swipe with a sharp knife, placing them in cool water in the glass tumblers.
The muscari alone are serene and lovely; I can see giving them to a mom with a white kitchen to put on her the breakfast table, or in the window behind the sink. But pair them with the red vase and a lively arrangement and they become truly energized.
Poppies and Pods
I used about 10 stems of the Icelandic poppies, cleaning off most of the leaves and cutting them to various lengths to allow the blooms to reach different heights. Next, I added Oriental poppy pods to the porcelain vase, working them into the spaces between the Icelandic blooms.
Cut and Sear Poppy Stems
Maybe it’s because I keep calling this vase poppy-red, but the obvious flower to me to put in it is poppies. They aren’t quite in bloom here yet, but they are arriving from California. The Icelandic poppies look so fragile that you would think they wouldn’t survive in a vase, but it's quite the opposite if you treat them right (by cutting them with a knife and plunging them in hot water for a few minutes). They will unfurl slowly, which makes for a wonderful thing to watch as you pass by the vase each day.
Gently Add the Muscari
Not feeling finished I added the purple-blue muscari to the arrangement. The stems are soft, and they are be tricky to add to an arrangement containing other types of flowers—put them in last and push apart the other stems to allow them to slide into the water.
Tulips and Muscari
Moms, like flowers, come in all shapes and sizes. Flowers, like moms, have different personalities. And it may be that bright and modern doesn’t suit your mom. But if you still want to give her a little piece of sunshine, a tight bunch of French tulips in buttery yellow isn’t such a bad way to go. And frankly, these yellow tulips look delicious next to the blue muscari too.