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How to Drolong the Lift of Cut Flowers
The life of a cut flower at best is fleeting. So when a bouquet lasts a week or more, it's cause for celebration. But for those who know that there's more to keeping flowers fresh than simply filling a vase with water, such longevity is not so remarkable.
The practice of preserving the life of cut flowers is centuries old. Until it became a secular art in the fifteenth century, Japanese flower arrangement, or ikebana, was the province of perfectionistic high priests who employed the art exclusively for the decoration of temples. Designs were high and intricate, their complexity taking a team of masters days to execute. It was therefore necessary to prepare blossoms and foliage well to ensure that they would not die while the work was in progress or too soon after its completion.
To get the most out of cut flowers, they must be fresh to begin with. So buy or cut them at the stage when they are just breaking into bloom. If you grow your own, take a pail of water into the garden with you and put them in it as fast as you cut.
Gather flowers early in the morning when they are filled with moisture from the dew and have cooled from the nighttime temperature. As the day wears on, blooms lose their perkiness through dehydration from the sun. The Japanese take special pains to ensure longevity. After blossoms are collected, the …