3 Top Florists Break Down How to Create the Ultimate Spring Bouquet

Channel your inner green thumb with flair.

Photo: Mimi Ritzen Crawford

Now that it’s officially spring, it’s time for some booming blooms. And while Olivia is a green thumb often plucking the best stems from the flower district or locally in Brooklyn, her rolodex is brimming with the hautest names in floral design. “It’s living art,” says Olivia of her approach to floral design. “I love being able to compose arrangements that are based on my mood, my wardrobe, or what’s in season.” However, Olivia also appreciates the brilliance behind some of the most lavish bouquets from the leading names in the industry. “I feel privileged to call Angel, Eric, and Rob friends, but also learn from them,” says Olivia. “They are beyond gifted and I love the originality they bring to everything they make.” With a new season upon us, team OP chatted with Angel Salazar, Eric Buterbaugh, and Rob Van Helden to provide tips on how to create a lavish and lush piece to bring joy to the everyday.

For New York-based Salazar, the first step in floral arranging is identifying the occasion. “Once the intention of the piece is defined, I select flowers based on colors and varieties that will help fulfill that intention,” says Salazar who is personally fond of tulips. Building off of this, Salazar then selects a vessel to highlight the innate beauty of the stem. “A vessel that is taller gracefully showcases the length of long stem roses, blooming branches, and French tulips.”  With over two decades under his belt, Salazar also has a few tricks up his sleeve on keeping his flowers looking fresh for days. “Keep your arrangement in the coolest space possible and away from direct sun and/or indoor heaters,” says Salazar. In addition to changing the water, Salazar advises to cut the stems every other day so they absorb the fresh water. And while New York City winters can be brutal, Salazar still gets excited come spring. “There is something so special about seeing the blooming quince, cherry blossoms, pear blossoms, and forsythias appear in the market for the first time each year,” says Salazar. “It still takes my breath away and never grows old!”

Eric Buterbaugh is a pillar of the floral industry working with an A-list clientele ranging from celebrities to fashion houses. It’s his unique process, like his arrangements that have fans coming back for more. “I like to visualize the end result and then make a road map to get there,” shares Buterbaugh. He advises having plenty of supplies—read: stock up on your favorite flowers—to let the bouquet come together. “If, along the way, the arrangement takes a new direction, then go with it.” That mindset translates throughout all his pieces which can be described as nothing short of opulent. “My ethos is always creating luxury. I love arrangements with loads of flowers. It’s about tiny details that not everyone will see, but you will know are there.” One of his top tips for budding bloomers to prolong the life of their arrangements is, “to put a few drops of bleach in the water to keep bacteria away and change the water every day.”  For those who are still wary of their floral skills, don’t fret as Buterbaugh suggests sticking to a single variety. “Tulips are very easy to deal with. You trim the ends and plonk in a vase. There’s not so much arranging involved.” And with so many genuses at his disposal, are there any he hopes to play with this spring? “Peonies are always at the top of my list, but I’m also obsessed with anemones and ranunculus.” 

London-based Rob Van Helden takes a very English approach when it comes to his creations. “Let flowers speak for themselves. Look into the meaning of certain flowers. They are a product from nature, so let them be. [There’s] no need to dye them, add diamanté’s, et cetera. Appreciate their natural beauty.” His bountiful blooms are magnificent with lush results allowing each stem to shine. For Van Helden, the starting point is the occasion, the color palette, and preferred flower types. One of Van Helden’s tips for keeping flowers looking their best is to keep them clean. “It’s important to condition the flowers, meaning remove foliage and thorns, and re-cut the stems on an angle.” And with London getting sunnier, Van Helden cannot wait to get his creativity flowing using “hyacinths, tulips, parrot tulips, paper whites, narcissi, ranunculus, pussy willows, anemones, and my all time favorite, Lily of the valley.”

Related Articles

More Example