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Chic Techniques: 10 Ideas to Steal from a Parisian Florist

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Chic Techniques: 10 Ideas to Steal from a Parisian Florist

August 14, 2017

To describe Parisian florist Mathilde Vial’s tiny shop on the Rue du Vertbois in the 2nd arrondissement as under-the-radar is putting it mildly. If you walk by, you will almost surely miss it. With no storefront sign, On the Sunny Side is more of an atelier than a boutique; Vial’s reputation spreads by word of mouth and many of her customers are longtime loyalists.

But for anyone who wanders in, the shop offers a selection of seasonal bouquets (many featuring flowers Vial grows herself), and an eclectic collection of planters and pots, many from small French producers. Since starting the business in 2013, Vial also has offered floral design workshops. Here are 10 ideas to steal from the casual elegance of her arrangements.

Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.

Pick a Palette

For a similar spiky green flower, a packet of Green Thumb Amaranthus seeds is \$\2.95 from Eden Brothers.
Above: For a similar spiky green flower, a packet of Green Thumb Amaranthus seeds is $2.95 from Eden Brothers.
Vial often creates bouquets based on a simple palette, using one or varieties of flowers and one or two colors. Tip: green blooms such as those on the Amaranthus shown above, are particularly useful because they serve both as foliage and flower.

What is Vial’s favorite flower? “It is very hard to answer that  question because there are some many flowers I adore! I particularly like les anémones,” she says.

Think About Texture

In the foreground are mixed zinnias (for similar, see Queen Red Lime Zinnia seeds; \$6.95 for a packet of 30 from Burpee). Yellow Crespedia (billy buttons) and white statice are useful filler flowers.
Above: In the foreground are mixed zinnias (for similar, see Queen Red Lime Zinnia seeds; $6.95 for a packet of 30 from Burpee). Yellow Crespedia (billy buttons) and white statice are useful filler flowers.
Vial likes to work with flowers that have stiff silhouettes—such as the zinnias, Crespedia, and statice shown above—because they add structure to a bouquet and have long-lasting blooms.

Yellow, purple, and white: a foolproof color palette.
Above: Yellow, purple, and white: a foolproof color palette.

Skip the Vase

Vial ties bouquets with raffia. A package of Natural Dried Raffia Ribbon made from palms in the Philippines is \$\1.99 from Factory Direct Crafts.
Above: Vial ties bouquets with raffia. A package of Natural Dried Raffia Ribbon made from palms in the Philippines is $1.99 from Factory Direct Crafts.
Treat flowers as you would a bunch of herbs, tying them with ribbon or twine and suspending the from a hook or doorknob. It’s an especially effective way to display flowers that like to flop over, such as the purple Amaranthus show above; upside down, it has a sculptural, waterfall quality that would be otherwise be lost.

Put It on Repeat

Above: Vial sells pots and planters as well as houseplants in her shop.

Instead of getting one houseplant, get three or four that are identical; en masse make a more powerful visual statement. In Vial’s shop, four identical potted vines hang in a row, creating a curtain of foliage to catch the light.

Make an Angled Cut

Vial uses floral clippers with a notch to cut wire. A similar Floral Bunch Cutter is \$\20.34 from Blooms by the Box.
Above: Vial uses floral clippers with a notch to cut wire. A similar Floral Bunch Cutter is $20.34 from Blooms by the Box.
Before you put flowers in a vase, make a sharply angled cut on each stem to increase the surface area to draw up more water. (See our favorite florists’ shears at 10 Easy Pieces: Floral Scissors.)

Embrace ‘Blushing Bride’

A \10-stem bunch of Blushing Bride Protea is \$49 (minimum order of two bunches) at Blooms by the Box.
Above: A 10-stem bunch of Blushing Bride Protea is $49 (minimum order of two bunches) at Blooms by the Box.
Serruria ‘Blushing Bride’ (shown above) is a flowering evergreen shrub native to South Africa. A popular flower for wedding bouquets, it is a florist’s friend; its soft pink and cream hues complement a range of colors from purple to yellow.

Keep It Simple

A similar heart-shaped Hoya Kerrii Succulent is \$\15 from Rare Succulents via Etsy.
Above: A similar heart-shaped Hoya Kerrii Succulent is $15 from Rare Succulents via Etsy.
When in doubt, pare down. With its strong, geometric lines, a single succulent in a small planter can make as much of an impact as a larger bouquet.

Press Here

For more, see DIY: Tips to Press Flowers from MR Studio in London.
Above: For more, see DIY: Tips to Press Flowers from MR Studio in London.

Extend the life of your favorite blossoms by pressing them to create dried flowers.

Think Like an Artist

See our favorite flower press in Object of Desire: A Handmade Herb Press from Arminho.
Above: See our favorite flower press in Object of Desire: A Handmade Herb Press from Arminho.

On strips of muslin or linen, you can mount pressed flowers with strips of tape (or a few well-placed stitches) to create botanical art.

Clip It

A box of \1\2 large, 3-inch Metal Bulldog Clips is \$6.97 from Amazon.
Above: A box of 12 large, 3-inch Metal Bulldog Clips is $6.97 from Amazon.
Office supplies are your friend; Vial suspends botanical banners from oversized metal clips.

Keeping a Low Profile

Seen from the street, Vial&#8\2\17;s shop has a nondescript facade that belies the colorful chaos inside. For hours and information see On the Sunny Side.
Above: Seen from the street, Vial’s shop has a nondescript facade that belies the colorful chaos inside. For hours and information see On the Sunny Side.

N.B.: For more of our favorite simple floral arrangements, see:

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