The Complete Guide to Arranging Garden Flowers & Herbs

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Everything you need to know about arranging garden flowers. How to harvest, how to keep the flowers fresh, adding herbs, and more.

arranging garden flowers 3 2021

I love all kinds of flowers. I think they are one of life’s loveliest pleasures, and I can’t imagine my home without them. I love dried flowers and preserved greens. I adore grocery store flowers…but of all the flowers in the world, my favorites are the ones cut from my very own garden. I can’t wait for the buds to appear, and then for the flowers to bloom.

I’ve spent many happy hours in my garden with a bucket of water beside me, snipping flowers. If you feel the same, then you are going to love this post! It doesn’t matter where you are in your gardening journey…there is something for everyone. To begin, here are 5 tips for arranging garden flowers that are guaranteed to provide you with beautiful bouquets.

summer garden flower arrangement with hydrangeas

5 Tips for Arranging Garden Flowers

1. Cut the stem and strip the leaves. Any leaves that are near the bloom can stay.

These first two tips are done outside, in the garden. Gather your snippers and a bucket of cool water. As soon as you cut a stem, strip all the leaves except the ones very near the bloom. You want to have a bare stem below the water line in your container. To save time and simply the process, I strip the stems right in the yard at the edge of my garden. They are easy to pick up, and occasionally I can time it so they get mulched in the mower.

2. Plunge the stem into a bucket of cool water.

After you have stripped your stem of leaves, plunge it immediately in the bucket of water. Move the bucket around with you so as you cut and strip, the flowers can be put in the water. This is especially important in the summer months when it’s hot. Flowers can wilt and fade in just a few minutes.

3. Put your garden flowers in a vessel that reflects your personal style.

It’s just my opinion, but I think the vessel is as important as the flowers. Use something that reflects your personal style…or has a special meaning. My favorites are vintage mason jars, enamelware containers, and pitchers. All of these are perfect for farmhouse style. If you love clean lines and a more modern look, a good choice is a glass cylinder. Silver and ironstone are also great choices, and can be used with many different styles. 

arrangements using garden flowers and herbs

4. Give the ends a fresh snip.

Now to make your arrangements. On your kitchen counter or other surface, set your bucket of flowers, your snippers and your vessel(s) filled with cool water. As you remove your stems from the bucket, give them a fresh, angled snip before you put them in your pitcher or vase. The open end will quickly absorb water, thus extending the life of your arrangement. The back and forth movement, between the bucket and the container, is relaxing and therapeutic.  

5. To make your arrangement last longer, re-snip the ends and change the water.

So you now have one, or more, lovely flower arrangements sitting around your home. In order to enjoy them for as long as possible, it’s important to pamper them a little. Every other day, empty the containers and refill with fresh water. Another trick is to re-snip the ends of all the stems. This will open up the stem again so the fresh water can be absorbed. 

coneflower and mint garden flower arrangement

How To Assemble The Arrangments

I had a couple of questions about the actual assembly of the arrangements. I begin with the biggest flower and/or the thickest stem. These will act as a stabilizer for the rest of the elements. After that, I add something bushy or full. Last, I add the smallest flowers or herbs with the thinnest stems.

Mixing Herbs + Flowers

Making simple arrangements using garden flowers & herbs is not only extremely gratifying, it’s a great way to use herbs that might otherwise be wasted. Sometimes herbs grow very fast and it’s hard to use them quickly enough. Any herbs will work, but here are some suggestions:

  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Lavender
fresh summer herb bouquets in ball jars

Mixing herbs and flowers is like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They just fit together beautifully. For these bouquets, I purchased the dill and parsley at the grocery store, but the mint and basil were homegrown.

Use whatever herbs you have on hand, and any flowers that are blooming. Go colorful or neutral…or both. These arrangements turned out quite colorful, and were made with Annabelle hydrangeas, purple coneflowers, and the herbs. I used my all-time favorite vintage blue mason jars as vessels, and sprinkled them on our living room shelves. 

fresh summer herb bouquets in mason jars

Good Things About Flower + Herb Arrangements

The aroma from the herbs made me smile every time I walked in the room. Another good thing about fresh summer herb bouquets is that they are very long-lasting. These little arrangements lasted over a week. Every few days, I changed the water, and snipped off the ends of the herbs. 

summer garden flower arrangement in ball jar

When we lived on Sutton Place, one of my very favorite things about summer was being able to walk outside and harvest fresh flowers. I had peonies in the spring, and hydrangeas in the summer. Along with the hydrangeas, there were coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and lavender. When these flowers were cut and combined together, they instantly brought summer charm and color to our spaces.

garden flower arrangement with hydrangeas and lavender

Mixing lavender with hydrangeas is so easy, and the end result is always stunning. I had just one big Annabelle hydrangea, but it blessed me with plenty of blooms every summer. My patch of lavender wasn’t large, but it always yielded a nice basket of blooms each year.

More Gardening Thoughts

  • I encourage you to combine herbs and garden flowers in your arrangements. They really are the perfect pair.
  • If you hesitate to cut your flowers because you love to look at the blooms in your garden, plant multiples of anything that would make a good cutting flower. That way you can cut some to bring inside, and leave the rest in the garden to be enjoyed.
  • Don’t give up…even if your garden, like mine was, seems to always be a work in progress. I encourage you to look past the bare spots, gather inspiration, and make your garden beautiful.
how to arrange garden flowers herbs collage pin 2021

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  1. Hi Ann, I just discovered your blog and I am absolutely loving it. I am a collector of blue and white, I collect Spode.

  2. Hi!
    I love that blue and white pitcher in the first picture in your post.
    Do you remember where you got it?
    Thank you!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Sandy…I got that pitcher at Nordstrom a few years ago. It was a special collection by Anthropologie exclusively at Nordstrom…and the pitcher sold out right away. I’m sorry. I wish I could be more helpful!

  3. Beautiful flower arrangements!!! I have just started cutting flowers in mass in my garden. So excited to use them soon in my decor. Thank you for sharing your tips!!!

  4. Beautiful arrangements with the combinations of herbs, and the blue mason jars are perfect.

  5. Kathy Menold says:

    Thankyou Ann for reminding your readers how wonderful herbs work as fillers in flower bouquets. I just mixed in two different kinds of mints with my peonies one being lemon scented and the other one peppermint and they not only looked good but smelled nice as well. Later in the summer I gather lots of herbs for a bouquet, place them on my kitchen counter and snip them to add to my recipes.

  6. Hi, Ann. I enjoyed your ideas about flower arranging and using herbs…I’d never thought of that! I always boil the water and once it has cooled I use that to fill the vase. It keeps flowers lasting much longer. And changing the water every two days is a must! Thanks for all the inspiration. Mary

  7. Sue Daugherty says:

    Do you have any special formula for placement of the flowers/herbs in the vase itself? Is there a special order you use to put them in? By height? By type?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Sue! I will try to add an explanation to the post…but I begin with the tallest flowers. They act as a stabilizer for the smaller flowers with thinner stems. After the tallest flower, I add something that’s bushy, or full. Last, I add the small elements with thin stems.

  8. Paula@SweetPea says:

    Great post filled with so many helpful hints. I so much enjoyed seeing all of your floral designs.