The Secrets of Dramatic Floral Arrangements | Midwest Living

The Secrets of Dramatic Floral Arrangements

At workshops in a renovated Saint Paul warehouse, stylist Jackie Reisenauer shares tips on how to make floral arrangements that capture the effortless essence of a summer garden.

Pulling from buckets of blushing hydrangeas and softly drooping raspberry foliage, 20 eager students quickly cover long tables with bits of stems and leaves. Their teacher, Jackie Reisenauer of the Twin Cities floral-styling firm Munster Rose, offers general advice—arrangements shouldn’t be more than twice as high as a vase, for instance—but her biggest tip is just to relax. By playing around, you’ll discover how each cutting interacts with the ones around it.

Go wide, not tall, for drama that feels balanced.

Flower arranging is enjoying an Instagram-fueled moment, with arty photos inspiring newbies to advance their skills beyond stuffing supermarket blooms in a vase. Part of the Munster Rose workshop’s draw is the quality of the materials. Jackie chooses from 200-plus varieties sustainably grown at Prairie Garden Farm in Starbuck, Minnesota. And her style is accessible, marrying elegance and organic whimsy: “I like to incorporate a lot of greenery and texture, depth and movement, so that it’s not just a dome of peonies.” Her students follow suit, nudging sweet peas and snapdragons into casual balance. After two hours, the snippers finally rest, and the photo snapping begins.

How to make it last​

Keep it clean Clean dirty vases with hot soapy water (never bleach) to eliminate any bacteria that could shorten the life of an arrangement.

Avoid shocks You wouldn’t want to step into an ice-cold bath and neither do flowers. Use warm tap water (and skip the floral preservatives).

Count to seven You have only seven seconds to get stems into water after trimming ends (on the bias). After that they suck up cell-plugging air.

Reduce handling Keep blooms looking their best by limiting water changes to every two to three days and stem trims to every four to five days.

Buy local Farmers markets and  neighborhood florists almost always have the freshest stock and can tell you which varieties are locally grown.

Sign up

Go to to register for workshops (a two-hour beginner’s centerpiece class costs $175). If you can’t make the class, you can still order the hand-thrown vases used in the workshop.


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