As I was browsing Instagram one day, as I do every day for far too much of the day, I noticed a similarity in many of the gorgeous floral arrangements that used seasonal spring blooms. While each design was unique and lovely in its own way, one particular flower just kept showing up over and over.
I was taken by their distinct look and shape… it is so different from the familiar cup shape of a classic tulip. These tulips are wild and open and seem to hover above the rest of the arrangement–part of the whole piece and yet drawing attention unabashedly to themselves.
I had to try working with them myself. Before I went ahead and started messing with some Costco tulips, however, I decided to consult the experts.
What I learned is that the trick is to “reflex” the tulip petals, or bend them backwards. Katy Rayner of Bracken and Twine Floristry said that she uses tulips that are at least a few days old.
Brigitte Girling of Moss and Stone Floral Design seconds this, saying that with age the petals become soft and better suited for this technique. She adds a reminder be gentle with the flowers, as the petals have a tendency to snap if not handled with care.
TJ at Blue Jasmine Floral adds that he sometimes reflexes all of a tulip’s petals, but sometimes only a few to get a different look.
When I worked with the tulips, I would start at the tip of a petal, holding it between finger and thumbs, and very slowly press my fingers down the center line on the outside. I then bent the petal back at the base to ensure that the flower would stay open.
It was a unique opportunity to look more closely at each flower and appreciate its look and its little intricacies. This is something that I don’t always take time to do in my work, but that from now on I will try to do more often.
I created this design as a gift for my grandma on her birthday. Being in the depths of the polar vortex, I had to settle for grocery store flowers. I did my best to bring my favorite little touch of wildness by starting with a base of maple twigs I pulled from outside.
Nobody who saw the arrangement recognized the flowers as tulips. It is interesting to me how the very essence of a flower can change with as simple an action as bending the petals a little. It makes me wonder what other things in my life I can radically change with just a simple adjustment…