It doesn’t always look like spring has arrived when you live in New England (this week alone I’ve gone through three different coats, boots, and ballet flats – make up your mind, weather!) but I still have big armfuls of bright spring flowers on the mind as we head into Easter celebrations this weekend. Over the winter I got a chance to watch Alice, from Alice’s Table, do a demonstration on flower arranging at an entertaining event. In just a few short minutes I picked up lots of great tips from her and thought it would be great to get some of her insight on arranging professional looking arrangements at home. I’m going to be using a few of these tips for adding flowers to upcoming Easter brunch, bridal showers, and sometimes just a pretty bouquet to add a little spring to our grey New England days!K: Alice thanks for sharing some of your floral arranging tips and tricks with us! Let’s start with the actual flowers. Most amateur florists don’t have access to a wholesale flower market, what should they look for at the grocery store? What are your favorite places to buy flowers outside of the flower market?

A: In the warmer months, farmer’s markets are a wonderful option, but my everyday favorite would have to be Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Their flowers are always fresh and the prices are comparable to wholesale!K: I pick up flowers from our Trader Joes almost every week, they have a great selection and they’re so reasonably priced. Once we have our materials on hand, what is a good method for arranging grocery flowers to get a more professional look?

A: The advice I always give is to start with larger flowers; it’s easier to control. You can start to create a structure, create that full-looking vase. Also, don’t forget to give your flowers a fresh cut when you get home from the grocery store. Cut the stems at a 45-degree angle and place them in warm, fresh water.K: I remember hearing your tip about warm water at the event I saw your demo at, which will always stick with me now! Any other basic tips that any home-florist should know to start?

A: Texture and color are the most important things—understanding that you are going to have a variety in the textural elements. Thinking about color theory and putting it together: Is it monochromatic, is it trichromatic, is it multicolored?  How many textures do you want to use in your arrangement? This will really pull your piece together! Another favorite tip is to start with a grid. Create a “tic tac toe” pattern with scotch or floral tape on the top of your vase. The grid keeps flowers upright as you start to build your arrangement and best of all, will give you the flexibility to play around with different placements as you build out your centerpiece.K: So helpful! Okay, now that we’ve arranged our flowers, how can we extend the life of our bouquets at home?

A: There are so many old wives tales telling you how to keep your flowers fresh: pennies, bleach, or aspirin — you name it! I’m a big fan of plant food and recommend using it.

K: Any creative ideas for floral arrangement vessels that you like to use? I love using a big mason jar, or my collection of jadeite and milk glass bud vases.

A: The vase has a large impact on what the arrangement becomes. Considering that, and considering the space is always important. I often use vessels of different shapes, textures, and colors, depending on the floral elements and space.K: Easter is just around the corner! What are your favorite seasonal flowers to pull into a spring-inspired arrangement?

A: Lilies are a classic for Easter; they’re elegant and perfectly capture the essence of spring. Another crowd favorite is peonies; they’re one of the most popular springtime flowers that will add drama and romance to any arrangement. However, if you’re looking for an easy grocery store arrangement, you can never go wrong with tulips or daffodils!K: Peonies are my favorite! I had them in my wedding bouquet. Tulips are one of my favorites too; I love the range of colors they come in. Thank you so much for sharing your tips and tricks with us, I can’t wait to put these ideas to use and start arranging!