Pick your own bunch: Tips for arranging garden flowers

Pick your own bunch: Tips for arranging garden flowers

Buying flowers for the house or office is a great way to treat yourself or liven up the place – but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Why not try putting a bunch together by foraging in the garden or neighbourhood? You might find that even ‘weeds’ have their place.

While clipping chrysanthemums from a manicured public park is likely to get a few backs up, there are plenty of beautiful blooms available for the taking at this time of the year. 

Forage your own patch first

The best place to look may be your own property. Even better if you’ve been away and the garden needs tending, as there are likely to be some flowering leafy greens in the vegetable patch (think the fine yellow flowers on mustard greens, kale and rocket) and pretty wildflowers poking their heads from any gap they can find. 

Before you get busy trimming those lawns, check the grass for the odd yarrow flower or wild daisy, as even these common weeds can contribute to a great wildflower posy. Don’t forget herbs too – a sprig of mint or a branch of rosemary can help give your bunch a lovely scent, as well as providing base foliage. There are plentiful shades of green and tons of texture among native New Zealand plants too - they add superb depth to an arrangement.

Street feast (within reason)

Once you have an eye for it, you are likely to see posy-ready flowers wherever you go. Be diplomatic though, as it’s not the most neighbourly to go snipping roses or prized peonies over the fence. In saying that, if someone’s jasmine bush or lavender is absolutely going for it across the footpath, it’s unlikely they will mind you snapping off a small sprig or two. 

If there are walking trails near you, consider anything growing alongside these as fair game, as long as they haven’t been lovingly landscaped by the council. You might find wildflowers, such as Sweet William or cornflowers, growing alongside the path. These can be used to add softness and colour to your arrangement. Don’t take them all though – leave some for the bees and fellow walkers.

Flower arranging 101

Once you have your raw materials, it’s time to arrange your bunch. Lay out all your flowers and see if anything can be discarded. Some flowers protest at being picked and may have wilted already – you will soon find out which ones last.



  1. Choose the flowers you wish to make the stars of your arrangement. This could be a rustic combination of wildflowers or perhaps a bunch of seasonally available dahlias or cornflowers. Sticking with two to three colours can be helpful.

  2. Choose your vessel. Most foraged flowers have short stems, so a pretty glass tumbler or a pottery jug can make for a good vase.

  3. Arrange your favourite first in your fist with a base of greenery surrounding them. This could be your herbs or perhaps some wild ferns you found on your walk.

  4. Transplant this into your water-filled vessel, then poke any other small stems you like into this arrangement. Sometimes, small adjustments can help to create an effortless, rusticated look. Having some foliage spilling from the sides of your vessel can help give balance to the arrangement.

  5. Try a few different combinations until you create a good looking bunch. There is no right or wrong in home flower arrangements! Once you have it as you like it, step back and admire!

Some flowers to avoid

You’d be surprised at the number of common flowering plants that are poisonous or cause irritation. Avoid these plants, especially if you have children and animals about:
  • Foxgloves and rhododendrons are poisonous.
  • Arum lilies are poisonous if consumed (but look nice in a tall vase if there’s no danger of anyone taking a bite!)
  • Comfrey is pretty but can cause skin irritation.
  • Agapanthus has a sticky sap that irritates skin and eyes
  • Lantana is a houseplant gone wild in many parts of New Zealand. It has small, purple flowers that can be toxic.
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