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How to Create the Perfect Floral Centerpiece, According to a Beacon Pro

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Photos by Alejandro Lopez

Courtney Sedor, owner of the Beacon boutique Raven Rose, shows us how to create a stunning centerpiece for holidays in the Hudson Valley.

Seven years ago, Courtney Sedor decided she’d had enough of corporate life and the ugh-not-another-meeting grind. After leaving her human resources job and then backpacking throughout Europe and Asia, she returned to the States and reinvented herself. Today, she’s the proud owner of Raven Rose, a lifestyle boutique on Main Street in Beacon (ravenrosebeacon.com). The charming shop draws both locals and not-so-locals for its selection of resplendent flowers, tasteful gifts, and home décor.

Floral centerpiece

As Thanksgiving nears, Raven Rose fields a deluge of orders for centerpieces. To create your own showstopper, follow Sedor’s step-by-step guide.

First, a few basics: Select a vessel 4½ to 5 inches tall, with a mouth that slopes gently downward to a wider base. If your flowers came with flower food, mix it with fresh water according to the directions, then fill the vessel nearly to its lip. Move the vase to the edge of a table or counter and measure each flower against it to determine the desired height. Remove as many leaves as possible, especially those that will be below the waterline, without making the flowers look too scant. Cut stems to size under running water just before you place them.

1. Start with a base of greenery to help support the flowers, such as the Italian ruscus, variegated pittosporum, and grevillea foliage pictured to the right. Crisscross the stems both side-to-side and front to back (and do the same for most of the blooms you add later). This will give the arrangement more stability.

Plant arrangement

2. Introduce your more substantial blooms— their larger stems are easier to work in now that the arrangement is fuller. Opt for flowers with darker jewel tones: Sedor uses several Cherokee Sunset black-eyed Susans, along with pale-pink Amnesia roses, and a few burgundy dahlias.

Flower arrangement

3. Add a couple of types of vivid accent flowers so the arrangement doesn’t end up too dark. Fire lilies—the small, trumpet-like wildflowers in this arrangement—create a pop of sunny yellow. You can also add some soft yellow ranunculuses.

Floral centerpiece

4. Finish with what Sedor calls “butterfly pieces,” which are wispy and delicate. Have them floating above the other, fuller flowers. Seen here are crocosmia and nigella pods, wheat grass, and Little Bunny fountain grass.

If you’ve used fresh flowers, they should last seven to 10 days. Make sure the water is clean and keep your arrangement in a cool spot that’s out of direct sunlight, removing flowers as they wither. Need a little help? Raven Rose hopes to hold a flower-arranging workshop on Monday, November 22—Covid allowing. Keep an eye on their website for an announcement.


Related: 6 Succulent Centerpieces That Make Hudson Valley Tables Pop

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