Hillsides awash in wild blossoms, joyful bunches of sunflowers on farmers market stands, country roads bordered by rainbow-splashed meadows: Summer in Stowe is a fantasy of flowers. “At once hearty and vigorous, delicate and sublime, Vermont flowers confirm the raw beauty of the Green Mountain State,” says Creg Oosterhart, principal at Creg Richard Design. Here, he shares his secrets for styling them at home.
Get a Grower
First step: Find top-notch blooms. “In order to capture the essence of the Vermont story, you need an amazing local grower,” Oosterhart says. “Unity Farm in Charlotte and Understory Farm in Bridport have prolific products and their growing medium is pure.” In true Vermont fashion, these farms mindfully avoid pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Hone Your Style
The flowers you select will be driven by the vibe you’re going for. “Some people like a minimal look; some seek flowers that dry nicely; while others enjoy a classic arrangement with big, blossoms and full, flowering stems,” Oosterhart says. “Currently, the bohemian look is back.” Think: field flowers, grasses, and straw. Color is also a matter of personal preference. “I like lots of color—it looks healthy, fun, and exciting,” Oosterhart says. “Other designers gravitate to an earthy, sparse composition.”
Although flowers may hold the starring role, don’t underestimate the importance of greens. “They have an energy of their own,” Oosterhart says. “They are an understated way to bring in a bit of nature, and lend texture to an arrangement.” He adds that their sturdy stalks can create a supportive net to prop up delicate flowers. Depending on the occasion, going big on greens can strike just the right tone. “An abundance of flowers looks expensive and glamorous, but for a quiet affair, consider making greens your foundation,” Oosterhart says. A bed of lush, tonal greens with flowers interspersed is less costly and projects a simple beauty.
- Flowering Quince “This is my favorite for branchwork. It is
prolific here in Vermont, with fine, long branches and beautiful soft,
- Foxglove “This timeless flower has been sought after and grown
in formal gardens for years. The bell-shaped blossoms and tall stems
make a statement.”
- Sunflowers “Vermont sunflowers come in many colors and
sizes. They are hardy and sturdy and make people happy!”
- Delphiniums “I can’t even put into words how much I love
delphiniums. Stately and magnificent, their pretty, showy colors
ranging from deep blues and purples all the way up to whites.”
- Willow “Curly willow sticks add height and interest.”
- Tulips “This simple, classic flower looks so cheerful after winter.”
- Tips to help your blooms last longerand look their best
- Make sure your vase is very clean. Before use, squirt in a little dish soap and rinse it with hot water to remove lingering residue.
- Remove dead or wilted flowers. Disease and bacteria can easily pass through the stems.
- Sprinkle in sugar-based plant food.
- Snip the stems with gardening shears before placing flowers in the vase, and trim them again after a few days.
- Add fresh water daily.
Which greens to grab is influenced by what’s in season. “In spring and summer, eucalyptus and ruscus have great texture and variant color,” Oosterhart says. “In the winter, I incorporate branchwork like evergreens and birch branches.” To keep it truly local, head outside and forage!
Select the Right Vase
Vermont blooms call for a vessel with a rustic, alpine appeal. “I tend to use hand thrown ceramic vases or galvanized buckets that evoke the mountains,” Oosterhart says. “Keep in mind that clear vases will show all your stem work.” So if you are using interior support, such as foam, stick to an opaque vessel. Speaking of supporting your stems: “You can ball up aluminum foil or chicken wire inside the vase to hold the flowers in place and maintain their shape,” Oosterhart. You can also criss-cross clear tape across the mouth of the vase to create a grid where you can intersperse blooms. One last tip: “Be mindful that the arrangement accommodates your purpose,” Oosterhart says. “If the flowers are placed on a table where people are sitting across from each other, a low profile is best.” Whereas blooms placed in an entryway can have more height and heft.