Flower Power | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Flower Power

Learning the art of flower arranging can bring a pop of color and life into your life.

Learning the art of flower arranging can bring a pop of color and life into your life. Photo by Courtesy Julie Skipper

April showers bring May flowers. That's what they say, and I have no complaints when it plays out. I'm a sucker for fresh flowers. They brighten a day, add a pop of color to a room and make me smile. However, I lack both a green thumb and a yard since I live in a downtown apartment, so the extent of my floral repertoire stays limited to the occasional purchase of cut zinnias in a 40-ounce beer can from the vendor at the Mississippi Farmers' Market or impulsively picking up a bunch of Alstrameria at the grocery store.

But while I do that, I fastidiously watch the Twitter, blog and Instagram feeds of Lesley Frascogna's Tulip Floral Studio (ilovetulip.com, 601-572-1777, 115 N. State St.), constantly wishing that I had an occasion for which I needed her floral design services. The pictures of her raw materials, arrangements, bouquets and tablescapes not only showcase her talent, but make me want to surround myself with them. But when I go buy the aforementioned bunch of stems and stick them in a vase, the result often leaves me disappointed. And so I'm left to ask myself: "Self, you're not an uncreative person. Shouldn't you be able to do this better?"

Luckily, I happened to hear that Frascogna has thought of people like me. Her business is an event styling studio, so she specializes in weddings, parties, showers and the like. It's not a storefront where customers can just walk in and purchase flowers. However, her concentration on those areas of interest has allowed her to think more expansively about the services she offers.

One example? You can book a girls' night out event at her space for a group of friends or coworkers--everyone goes to the studio, enjoys refreshments and leaves with a handmade arrangement. In addition to these private events, Frascogna plans to offer similar classes open to all on a regular basis at her studio on State Street.

I was lucky enough to snag a spot in a workshop constituting a dry run of sorts for one of these classes that Lesley led recently in-store at Anthropologie (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 2004, Ridgeland, 601-898-1201). On a Thursday evening, a friend and I joined a group of other ladies to learn some floral arranging basics. While we sipped on Champagne cocktails and nibbled some sweet treats, Frascogna first demonstrated how to select a container, build a base of greenery, determine flower selection and height, and construct the arrangement. One of the more important lessons: determining when to stop adding things. While some women took notes, I decided to fully embrace the instruction to not overthink it and just do what looks right.

Frascogna simplified the process of selecting our flowers by providing each participant a "recipe" card that suggested a number for each type of flower to include. And then we were set free to go for it. At first, I was a bit nervous, plagued with the thought of cutting my stems too short. But soon, I loosened up and just had fun, playing with what looked right to me as Frascogna moved about offering suggestions and encouragement. It was interesting to see how many different arrangements resulted among the women, even though we all had access to the same flowers. Just like snowflakes, no two were alike, but all were lovely.

After finishing our arrangements, we cleared off one of the workshop tables so Frascogna could show us how to select a tablecloth and place settings to coordinate a complete look, and arranged the flowers in a tablescape. Emboldened by the experience, I think a purchase of "The Flower Recipe Book" by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo (Artisan, 2013, $24.95), may be on my horizon.

Who knows? Maybe soon I'll throw a dinner party and make a tablescape of my own. Or maybe I'll just enjoy thinking that if I had to, I could. Because really, I'd still rather leave it to the experts for an event. But now I know that at least for an everyday pick-me-up, I can make a vase of flowers on my desk look much better 
than before.

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