“April showers bring May flowers!” So this May, go on a flower frenzy! We will teach you how to make your own flower arrangement, a planter box and an herb garden. These are fabulous gifts for Mom for Mother’s Day!
How to Build a Planter Box
Step 1: Build the Frames
Build the top and bottom frames out of the 1×2 cedar strips. You’ll be butting the ends together, so no mitering will be necessary. Fasten two 26″ strips to two 13″ strips to form each rectangular frame. (You’ll need to ensure that the length remains 26″; to do this, butt the ends of the shorter strip against the longer strips. The thickness of the two longer strips will add an inch to each end of the shorter strips, increasing their length to 16″. Do this at each end of the longer strips to form a rectangular frame 26″ long and 16″ wide.) Apply a bead of wood glue to the junctions of the strips; then nail together with a single nail in each junction in preparation for inserting screws to hold them more securely. Predrill the ends prior to screwing them together; this helps keep the ends from splitting. Then insert a screw in each corner.
Step 2: Attach the Side Panels
Stand the two frames on their sides and apply a bead of wood glue to the inside face of the bottom side frames (the long sides). Attach four side panels to each long side, smooth sides out, and nail from the inside to hold them in place. Make sure the frames are flush with the panel ends on at least one side, or the bottom panels won’t fit properly. If the panels are jagged on the other side, you can always smooth them with a trim saw later.
Because you’re nailing from the inside, you may have to drive the nails at a slight angle. The advantage of this is that it conceals the nailheads from the exterior face of the window box. Repeat on the other side of the box.
Step 3: Attach the End Panels
Stand the half-completed box on its end and apply a bead of wood glue to the inside face of the bottom end frames. Attach two panels to each end in the same manner that you used to attach the side panels, once again ensuring that the ends are flush on the bottom. Repeat the process on the opposite end.
Step 4: Attach the Bottom Panels
Check and adjust your box for square if necessary. Attach three bottom panels to form the base of the planter box, using wood glue and screws. The base will reinforce and brace the box. Drill several holes in the panels so that water can escape, or simply leave a gap between the panels.
Step 5: Finish the Box
Lightly sand any rough edges and corners to smooth out splinters. If you wish, you can stain, seal or prime and paint your planter to suit your home’s decor. Because you used cedar, however, it can stay unfinished: cedar is one of the best lumbers you can use for exterior applications. This planter is a good size for potted plants, but you may wish to add a plastic liner and fill it with soil (add a layer of gravel first). If you do, don’t forget to cut holes in the liner to line up with the drainage holes in the bottom of the planter.
Herb Garden in Large Pot
1. Pot and tray – Buy a large, deep plant pot. This one is at least 7 gallons. Make sure there is at least one small hole in the bottom for drainage. If you have easy access to some stones or gravel, put a few inches of stones at the bottom of the pot to promote drainage.
Also make sure you buy a plastic or ceramic tray for under the pot to keep drained water from dripping on the floor.
Herbs – $9
2. Hardy herbs – Choose a variety of herbs for this pot. We chose cooking herbs – sage, sweet basil, and caraway thyme. We liked the different sizes and heights; sage grows tall, while basil is more bushy. The thyme is a creeper, growing flat to the ground. It has a tendency to take over its environment, so we will trim it back regularly.
Choosing herbs: We had a hard time finding herbs until we went to a nursery. They had just a few hardy specimens left, including the sage and thyme. Sometimes Trader Joe’s has basil, too. We used three small basil plants, one tall and leggy sage, and a small thyme creeper. This may have been too much; if they start crowding each other and pruning doesn’t help we’ll pull out a basil.
Potting soil – $5
3. Soil and water – Fill the pot up with soil, stopping about 3 inches from the top. Moisten the soil lightly but thoroughly with water and mix it until evenly wet. It shouldn’t be dripping wet – just loosely muddy.
Dig a small hole, deep down. Remove one of the plants from its nursery container. Gently loosen the soil around its roots. You don’t want to tear the roots apart – just loosen them up a bit. Put in the hole and pack about an inch of dirt over top of the root ball. Repeat for the other plants, giving them several inches of room between each other. Water again when finished.
Water when the leaves look droopy.
4. Water and sun – Put the pot on its drainage tray. Place anywhere it can get full sun. You’ll need as much weak winter sun as you can get. Don’t overwater; pour in a cup of water wherever and whenever leaves look droopy.
For cooking, cut leaves and stems off the tops first – not the sides.
Time, not including shopping: 20 minutes
Cost: $35-$50, depending on the cost of the pot and amount of plants
Make Your Own Flower Arrangement
Get Lots of Ideas
Look through magazines, books on floral decorating, visit fine floral shops, and take pictures of floral arrangements you like in public places. A 5-star hotel is a great place to get ideas. Go on a Saturday and you’ll probably see weddings already set up. The more ideas you have, the more you’ll have to incorporate into your wedding flowers.
Put All Your Ideas in One Place
There’s nothing worse than finding just the look you want, then losing it because you weren’t organized. So get a notebook with pockets or a manila envelope just for your flower pictures. When you’re ready to start making decisions, you can toss out the photos that don’t fit into your plan.
Decide on Your Color Scheme
If you have a favorite color, that’s what you’ll want for your wedding. But if the carpet is hideous in the room, you should probably think about a colors scheme that will help to take the eye off it. Or you may have fallen in love with some dresses for your bridesmaids. Choose your color scheme using any of these sources.
Set Your Flower Budget
The flowers are just one part of a wedding celebration. Added to the cost of the dress, music, reception, and gifts, the budget for flowers can just about break the bank. But in any wedding, the flowers set the tone, add color and fragrance, and are one of the things that the guests really remember. So don’t skimp.
Select Your Flowers
Many different flowers can give the colors you choose. Will you want roses or carnations, orchids or iris? Your decision will be somewhat influenced by where you live and the season of the year. Lilacs are almost impossible to get (at a price you can afford) in January, so find other flowers that have a similar shade.
You may decide to have all roses or an assortment of several varieties. Whatever you choose, make sure the flowers are available in your locale or place a special order for just what you want.
Recruit Lots of Help
Because flowers are perishable, they have to be prepared and arranged at the last minute. If you’re having lots of flowers, you’ll need lots of help.
Make a Recipe to Follow
Prepare a recipe for your floral arrangements, just as you would write a recipe for a food you’re preparing. Each centerpiece will need a container, a block of floral foam, 12 stems of roses, 5 stems of baby’s breath, and 3 stems of ivy. Well, you get the picture. Be sure you have more than you need for what you expect to make.
Gather All the Supplies
Get everything together in a box with easy access. If you have 3 friends helping, be sure you have 3 sets of supplies to help make the work go more smoothly. You’ll want to include clippers, floral tape, ribbons, floral moss, flower preservative, rose strippers if you have roses, corsage pins, vase. Once you have your recipe, you’ll know what you need.
A Cool Place for Storage
You’ll probably purchase and start preparing the flowers several days ahead of the big event and they’ll need to be kept chilled. If it’s a hot summer, reserve a room in the house and crank up the air conditioner. But don’t let the cold air blow directly on the flowers.
Buckets of Water
As soon as you buy the flowers, they need to go into water. Find some tall buckets from a home improvement center or ask if you can buy or borrow some from the flower vendor or florist. A very tall bucket (about 18″ tall) will help to support the blossoms on tall stems.
A Dedicated Work Area
To prepare your wedding flowers, whether you have small arrangements or large ones, you’ll need an area dedicated for the task. Cover as many surfaces as you can with plastic or a carpet cover (some flowers will bleed onto the flooring). You’ll need a deep sink to soak the flowers, several large tables, trash bags, a large garbage can, and a space nearby to set finished bouquets and arrangements.
Practice, Practice, Practice
No matter how simple your plan or how confident you might feel, plan to do at least one (preferably two) practice run. Purchase the flowers you’ve selected to construct one centerpiece and one bouquet and put them together. Keep track of how long it takes to prepare that one, then multiply by how many you’ll need to make. This will give you a great idea of how much time you’ll need to dedicate to the flowers when the big day arrives. You might find that you’ve bought more flowers than you need or that you need a fuller bow, requiring more ribbon. This is a better time to realize these things than on the wedding day.
The flowers will have to be done ahead of time, but you can make bows, gather the containers, purchase candles, fill votives, fold napkins, print the wedding programs or reception menus, and assemble the table favors weeks ahead. Remember where you store them!
When the Party’s Over
Ask a close friend to gather your centerpiece containers, candlesticks, decorations, votive holders, and any flowers you want to keep at the end of the reception. Be sure you provide bins, boxes, or bags and wrapping materials along with instructions on what to save and what to throw away.