Local Growers Share How To Create Beautiful Bouquets

by | May 2024

Hazel and Goose Bouquet

Photo: Chris Emeott

Create a beautiful cut flower garden with the help of local growers.

Flowers are a summer delight, bringing color and whimsy to any environment. There’s something so exciting about a bright bouquet sitting on your kitchen table for no reason other than your own enjoyment or bringing a jar of blooms to a friend’s house for dinner.

Starting a cut flower garden might seem like a big commitment—gardens need tending, and not everyone has a lot of extra time. But what if creating a small space with some exciting flowers wasn’t that intimidating after all?

We reached out to local flower farmers to get their insight into creating a cut flower garden of beautiful blooms—without a lot of complicated steps.

Staci Andro, owner of Hazel and Goose, an urban flower farm in White Bear Lake, offers sustainably grown fresh-cut flowers, flower subscriptions, seasonal bouquets and hand-crafted home décor, all grown at her home garden and sold from her studio on Third Street.

Similarily, Taryn Menne and Renee Neeser are a sister team who own T and Nae Flower Farm, offering florals, seasonal markets and curated events. Their flowers are grown on their grandparents’ farm in Hugo, making them third generation farmers bringing new life to their family land.

Taryn Menne and Renee Neeser

Photo: MKT Photography. Taryn Menne and Renee Neeser

Andro, Menne and Neeser generously shared their recommendations for creating an abundant flower garden.

It’s All About Attitude

If you want a garden, you just have to start one. With basic starter supplies, anyone can create a little corner of the yard for flowers destined for bouquets. “Don’t take it too seriously,” Menne says. “We’ve had multiple trays of flowers that we’ve started from seed that don’t come up … our first garden was all seeds from the Dollar Tree and the checkout from Menards. It doesn’t have to be anything too serious. You can just start!”

Andro agrees. “It’s easy—you just grab a packet,” she says. “You can start indoors, but you don’t have to get those fancy seed trays. It doesn’t have to be expensive. I use [recycled containers], just wash them and repurpose them.” Not everything will be a success, and that’s OK! In fact, that’s normal. “At the end of the day, you’re going to kill a lot of plants no matter what,” Andro says.

Staci Andro

Staci Andro. Photo: Chris Emeott

Some Flowers are Easy to Grow

Maybe you already have some flowers in your garden that make great bouquets and are easy to grow: Zinnias and cosmos are reliable and beautiful choices when it comes to cut-and-come-again flowers. But what if you want further variety?

Menne and Neeser suggest snapdragons and Teddy bear sunflowers, among other favorites, to add a dimension of excitement to your bouquets. Menne says, “Strawflower is a must-grow for me.” Strawflowers create stunning blooms and are easy to dry, too, bringing color into dried arrangements. The sisters also suggest bachelor buttons. “They’re gorgeous, nice and soft,” Menne says.

Andro has another suggestion: Rely on your perennials. “Delphinium is a great flower, and it blooms two or three times per season,” she says.

Fancy Flowers are for Everyone

Dahlias are decidedly “in” right now. They’re dramatic stunners that make you stop and look. As tubers, they require a bit more figuring out, but the reality is that with a little bit more effort, anyone can do it. As Andro says, “You gotta try!”

Dahlias are a favorite focal flower of these local growers. For beginners, the Queeny Series of zinnias is an easy alternative.

Dahlias are a favorite focal flower of these local growers. For beginners, the Queeny Series of zinnias is an easy alternative. Photo: Chris Emeott

There’s plenty of information out there for beginner gardeners. “You’re not the only one thinking of a question or wondering what to do,” Andro says. She suggests the Facebook group Cut Flowers 101.

Something with a little more effort on the front end, like a dahlia, can be rewarding to grow. Menne says, “​​It can be pretty addicting once you see that beautiful flower. You feel really proud.”

If dahlias still seem out of reach, Andro says that there are some fanciful varieties of zinnias that scratch the itch. “There are a lot of great hidden varieties—the Queeny Series has a red-lime, a lime-blush and a lime-orange. They have so many petals that they almost resemble a dahlia,” she says.

Keep it Interesting

Flowers don’t have to be fanciful to make a statement in a bouquet. Neeser says, “I love gomphrena, and they make a great dried flower as well. They come in different color palettes and have a little ball on top to add a different shape.” Her sister’s favorite lately is the dara, a variety of flowering carrot. “It’s kind of a whimsical sprouted flower with a lot of dimension,” Neeser says.

Feverfew (similar to chamomile) and bluestar are Andro’s unique picks, both of which bring a mystical, almost fairytale vibe to a bouquet.

T and Nae Bouquet

Photo: MKT Photography

Fantastic Fillers

Each flower farmer gets excited talking about fillers—they don’t serve as the focal point of the bouquet, but they are important to the overall look. They’re the greens, like eucalyptus, or other smaller flowers, like carnations or dianthus, that bring the bouquet to the next level.

Andro, Menne and Neeser all mention herbs, which can pull double duty in your garden in bouquets and in the kitchen. There are different varieties of basil that can be both beautiful and aromatic—cinnamon basil and lemon basil receive shoutouts. Dill is another fun, funky filler herb.

Make Arrangements

There’s a difference between a handful of flowers and a true bouquet, and it all starts with a focal flower: a dahlia, peony or rose are common options.

Andro laid out the different layers of the bouquet: focal, filler, line and form. She says, “Your focal flower is more round and flashy, a little bit above the filler flowers. Then, filler [including] carnations, feverfew, tweedia. Then a line flower—snapdragon is a great example. Finally, a form flower: tulips, lilies, irises, clematis. With the different heights, you’re creating that dimension within the arrangement.”

Menne and Neeser stress the importance of having fun when you’re arranging your bouquet. Last summer, they created weekly themed bouquets (Barbie and sunset were two memorable ones), inviting a sense of fun into the process. “We get to create and play—we don’t do that enough in our adult lives, so we try and bring that aspect into our bouquet making,” Neeser says.

Whether you’re working with a garden plot, a few pots on the porch or a raised bed, a cut flower garden is well within reach. Make sure the flowers receive plenty of good sunshine and the right amount of water. Keep the gardens in full view, so you’ll be encouraged to go out and pay the flowers a visit. As Menne says, “Start small, be realistic—and optimistic—and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Petals and Paper

Interested in digging deeper? Here are some of Staci Andro’s favorite books on the topic:

  • Cool Flowers by Lisa Mason Zigler
  • Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein
  • Cut Flowers by Su Whale
  • The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski
  • Specialty Cut Flowers by Alan M. Armitage and Judy M. Laushman

Hazel and Goose
2186 Third St. Studio 103
Facebook: Hazel & Goose
Instagram: @hazelandgoose

T and Nae
15815 Elmcrest Ave. N., Hugo
Facebook: t.and.nae
Instagram: @t.and.nae


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