In an extract from her book Vintage Flowers, Vic Brotherson of Scarlet & Violet reveals how to make the perfect hand-tied bunch.
1 Select flowers that are fine in stem yet full in flower, such as hydrangeas or roses, as they are much easier to handle. Rounded heads work together much better than a mix of rounds and spires. The magic will come with the fillers - in this case, wax flower, astrantia and foliage. Chop all the stems to a manageable length, about 30cm, and clear them of thorns, leaves and painful nodules at least 15cm from the stem base. Lay out the prepared flowers on a clear surface so that they are easy to select.
2 Begin by holding one of the leading flowers in your left hand and then, using your right, add from the flowers and foliage on the table. (Reverse if left-handed). The flowers are held in place in your palm with your thumb and forefinger; the other fingers grip in and release as more flowers are added. Every third stem or so, turn the bunch using your right hand. Keep all the stems facing the same direction; as they are added, the twist will become apparent. As each stem is added, slightly drop the height to get a rounded shape.
3 Finish with the hardiest stems to protect any softer stems and stop the string cutting into and decapitating the flowers. Grasp the string around your little finger and then loop it round the bunch above your holding hand at least once. Pull tightly, place the bunch on a surface and tie in a double knot.
4 Trim the stems gradually to fit your container, testing as you go - you can always cut shorter. The stems should touch the base of the container and the shape of the bunch should start at the neck. It should fit snugly and not wobble.
Written by Emily Senior.
This article originally appeared on House & Garden UK.