Florist Alexander Posthuma on the proper care of flowers
Alexander Posthuma is one of the most sought-after florists in the Netherlands
The 30-year-old grew up in the northern outskirts of Amsterdam and spent his childhood roaming through the nearby woods and fields. This sparked his love of nature. Following his studies in landscaping and horticulture and an internship in Australia, he started his own business in the heart of Amsterdam. His blooming creations adorn palaces, museums, business buildings, ships, and hotels such as the Andaz in Amsterdam with its furnishings by designer Marcel Wanders. In his home country, Posthuma was honored with the “Best Floral Design” award.
His favorite bouquet
looks as if he took a stroll through a field of wild flowers and randomly picked anything in his path with a colorful blossom.
In reality, Alexander Posthuma carefully selected the flowers for his cheerful spring arrangement: roses, buttercups and larkspurs, guelder roses, snapdragons, and mimosas.
The result is an opulent bouquet reminiscent of the still live paintings by the Old Dutch Masters. “After all, my flower shop A.P Bloem is located in the middle of the Amsterdam Canal District,” he points out. In this area, the Golden Age of the 17th Century comes alive at every turn.
“Every bouquet has to tell a story and embody emotion,” the famous Dutch florist explains. “Otherwise, it becomes a soulless carbon copy of the beauty of life.”
For us, he created his favorite bouquet, and he let us watch every step of the process.
“Be bold – let your imagination be your guide!”
The more colorful the bouquet, the more big blossoms are needed. “Too many small flowers are distracting.” A few peonies are a must, as are some of the newly created, large Italian ranunculus blooms. And, of course, voluptuous roses. “This creates structure – and a peaceful look.”
The 30-year-old's specialty are opulent bouquets in the style of the Old Masters. But if desired, he will create more modest arrangements or light bouquets made of branches and a few long-stemmed flowers for his customers: “With those, you have to keep an eye on the overall shape. It should form a circle or a triangle. Otherwise, it will look uneven and boring.”
The art of arranging beautiful bouquets is not something you learn overnight: “The only reason I can pull off my creations is that I have been doing this for ten years.” Each flower that goes into the arrangement has to be turned in the palm of the hand while being held at an angle, a process that requires lots of practice.
When dealing with tulips, remember that they will continue to grow in a vase. The same is true for anemones, hyacinths, and daffodils. Also, make sure to wash the slimy sap off daffodil stems. In plants from the spurge family, such as poinsettia, the sap can even be toxic!
What kind of vase is best?
When it comes to vases, Posthuma puts functionality above design. “Fancy shapes are often hard to clean, and then things start getting smelly.” Never buy vases that are too large, because “you’ll pay a fortune just to fill them up.” The perfect vase for lush bouquets is wider at the base and tapered towards the top: “This helps the bouquet keep its shape.” Roses, however, look best in a cone-shaped vase that is narrower at the base: “That way, they have enough room to unfold their beauty at the top.”
Something to consider: Both flowers and vases should match the china. This can be as easy as choosing flowers or leaves that pick up one of the colors from the tableware design. “With dishes in pastel hues, I'd stick to soft pink, light blue or mimosa yellow.” If you prefer stark contrasts, try combining shades of pink with bright crimson, purple, and dark green. If the china is very colorful or has a busy pattern, the flowers should have a calming visual effect. In this case, choosing only one color is best. For instance, you can alternate vases with white roses and white tulips on the table:
“Two varieties are all you need. Don’t overcomplicate things in your head. Keep it simple!”
To keep beautiful blossoms for longer...
A sharp knife should be a staple in any kitchen and allows for a clean cut. This helps keep flowers looking pretty as long as possible. “It ensures that the tiny tubes inside the stem that transport the water to the top don’t get clogged.”
The harder the stem, the more water the flower needs. Buttercups and roses are very thirsty, while tulips, daffodils and gerberas need less water. If possible, use lukewarm water because it is absorbed quicker. And since leaves take away water from the flower, it is best to remove any unnecessary leaves and keep only a few at the top.
Tulips need extra TLC because they usually are transported with little water, which weakens their stems. Therefore, you should place them in a bucket of water for a few hours without removing the paper, giving them a chance to soak up enough water to strengthen their stems again.
To slow the growth of bacteria without a flower food packet, simply squirt a little bit of bleach in the water for a similar effect. Insider tip: Add a few drops of 7 Up: “The sugar enhances the beauty of the blossom.”
For the hydrangea lovers among gardeners: Don’t cut hydrangea flowers too early or they will quickly wilt in the vase. One way to revive them is to place them upside down in a bowl of water overnight. Better yet, wait for the right time before reaching for the scissors: when the flower petals are not as delicate anymore and start to feel tougher.