Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or just want to spruce up your front hallway, the perfect floral centerpiece can bring life to a room, creating an energetic ambiance and an eye-catching focal point.
With the right mix of colors and textures, or perhaps, a pop of one specific color, a room can be instantly transformed – and there is nothing sweeter than walking into a home and smelling a fresh bouquet of fragrant flowers. Best of all, creating a floral centerpiece is easier than you think.
For guidance, Weekender consulted Debra Kettler, floral supervisor at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. She started her first flower shop in 1981, inheriting her love of gardening and flowers from her mother and grandmothers. Before joining the Ritz-Carlton, she owned a wedding and event business in Orlando for 23 years.
If you would like to create a floralscape for your home from scratch, Kettler offers some great tips.
“Always go with your heart and what you are feeling when purchasing or picking flowers and greens from the garden. Use containers in your home that fit your style and mood. You can make even a stove pot look homey and great with some flair,” she says.
Most experts agree that you should choose flowers that are in season and combine them with other textures, such as branches, leaves or berries. This not only creates another dimension, but also extends the length of the arrangement. Cayman may not see leaves on the tree turn orange, yellow or red, as in countries with cooler climates, but it still has a fall season.
“Fall is about the earth and its changes. Even though here in the Caribbean we don’t see a lot of your typical Northern fall, we still see changes and feel the mood readying for the holidays. You will see beautiful cremon mums, sunflowers, solidego [wild mustard], lots of pods, eucalyptus, wheat, grasses and unusual things,” says Kettler.
She also believes you should not be afraid to make a vase or arrangement with greens and flowers from your own yard, such as frangipani, bougainvillea, alamanda, small palm leaves, croton leaves, silver buttonwood, breadfruit leaves, and sea grape leaves and their berries, among others. “Here at the hotel we are always cutting and trimming something to use for our designs,” she says.
Kettler works alongside florist Andre Douglas, who did his technical training in Jamaica and worked at a flower shop in Bermuda before joining the Ritz-Carlton in 2013. Their floral duties include designing and maintaining all flowers in the hotel and restaurants, and for guests. They create the show-stopping front lobby flowers at the resort, as well as its sister hotel, Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. They also create flowers for various hotel events and weddings. “We love thinking out of the box and trying new things and products,” says Kettler.
The flowers come from all over the world via Miami and other major cities in the U.S., as well as from Holland, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Ecuador, Colombia, Thailand and the Philippines. The flowers are first cut at a farm about a week before they arrive on island, then sorted and dry packed into coolers and shipped by air to Grand Cayman via Miami. Once they arrive, they are processed in water and given flower food, then left to set for several hours to absorb and hydrate before being arranged or stored in a cooler at 47 degrees until used.
Her biggest piece of advice is to pick the flower container first and then choose the flowers. “This will help you to buy or cut just what is needed,” she says. Kettler also insists on always using clean containers, knife, and cutters or scissors, and stripping all the leaves below the water line.
And surprisingly, a little household chemical can go a long way to adding longevity to your floralscape.
“Change the water daily, fresh-cut the stems and put a drop or two of bleach in the container to help keep it fresh,” Kettler adds.