Betsy Grafe got started arranging flowers through her church. They had planned, she said, to use silk flowers on the altar, and that just seemed unacceptable.
"If you're going to glorify God, you use God's product," she said.
So Grafe and other church members volunteered to take turns purchasing and arranging flowers for services. Now she owns Grafe Studio in St. Elmo.
Flowers can brighten up any room, even if they're just stuck in a vase. Flowers arranged to look especially attractive, however, can make the room look even brighter. Grafe teaches classes on floral arranging. A winter series at the studio continues weekly through March. For more information, call 468-4172 or visit www.flowersmakeyou happy.com.
"There are a broad range of things you can do [with flowers]," she said. "You can do vase arrangements, or you can put them in wet foam to keep them fresh."
Displaying flowers in a vase, she said, is more involved than sticking stems in a jar. Grafe recently ran a workshop on arranging a dozen roses in a vase.
"There are different tricks you can use to help you place the flowers," she said, "such as making a grid on top of the vase or something in the vase to hold them in place. If you have a wide-mouth vase and you have a dozen roses, they're just going to flop all over."
Last year, Grafe planned a class arranging tropical flowers, ordering blooms from Hawaii. Then a snowstorm hit.
"We had to find other uses for the flowers," she said. "I don't know what all we did with them. We used a lot of tropicals in a funeral arrangement."
1. Hand-tied bouquets are versatile, as they can be placed straight up and down in a narrow vase or placed at an angle in a more wide-mouthed container.
2. Think about shorter arrangements for centerpieces, such as what Grafe called "roundy-moundy" bouquets -- collections of tightly bound blooms. Use taller arrangements for corners and mantelpieces.
3. Less can be more. Consider an arrangement that focuses on individual flowers rather than the massive garden look of many colors and textures all together.
4. Try enhancing the natural quality of floral arrangements by blending popular green and white arrangements with fantail willow, seed or lotus pods.
5. There are no hard and fast rules. Experiment with different colors and flowers to decide what you like and what is appropriate for the space and occasion. "As far as I'm concerned, there are very few actual rules in flower arranging," Grafe said.