Use flowers to brighten up any event

Nancy Szerlag
 |  Special to The Detroit News

Backyards suddenly became the venues of choice for all sorts of celebrations when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. And the popularity of cut garden flower bouquets and arrangements skyrocketed as well because they’re easy to grow, are inexpensive, (especially if you grow them from seed) and go so well with the relaxed decor of the backyard scene

If you have a backyard celebration coming up this season and would like to use fresh or dried flowers, farmers markets and grocery stores are great sources this time of year. Kroger has stunning bunches of mixed fresh cuts that include flowers, berries and greens for under $10.  Costco also has a floral department. The best time to shop for flower at stores is on weekdays when the managers are on duty.  In most cases, you can special order what you need for advance pickup and not have to do a lot of last-minute running around.

Flowers are not the only option when it comes to decorating.  For brides who prefer a more contemporary look, succulents may be a perfect solution. Shallow containers of any size filled with a mix of succulents make excellent centerpieces that don’t obscure vision. I know a bride who potted up succulents in small terra-cotta pots to use as part of the table decor and then gave them as gifts to the attendees as they were leaving.

I’ve also seen them used in wedding bouquets and hot-glued onto barrettes for use as hair pieces for the bridesmaids.

To color up and add interest to a rather large bed of ground cover at the OPC Garden,  I’m placing several temporary but very colorful zinnia water gardens made by floating the flower heads in shallow trays of water. I got the idea from a photo taken at Chanticleer Gardens.      

Dried flowers are easy to work with and can be combined with fresh cuts in interesting ways.  While once considered a fall feature, they’re now used year-round. To combine fresh and dried flowers in the same arrangement, stick the blossoms in water filled florist tubes and add where needed.  To store dried arrangements, wrap them in tissue paper (a dust protector) and store in the basement or garage during the winter.

Timely reminder:  A free video mini course  on the Floret website will be available free through October. ( It includes how to cut and care for flowers in a vase and I found it well worth the effort because how and when you harvest flowers and foliage affects their vase life.  

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at