Every parent wants their child’s graduation to be perfect and I was no exception.  When my son graduated from college, we had to go to another state to attend the ceremony.  But when we got home, the party planning began.  I did not want the flowery things that I had had for our daughter.  I wanted clean lines, simple tables, but I also wanted something that he could keep.  Something that would be useful later down the road, not stuck in an album or desk drawer.  As I pondered this, I saw my dad’s photo cube.  The one he had filled with all my school pictures and this is when it hit me.  I would create a photo cube arrangement for my son.
Now that I had the idea, I had to come up with the plan.  My son is not a flower person, so to address his personality I had to come up with something that would mean something to him.  He is a car guy and would have loved an arrangement of toy cars but….being the mom, this would not do.  Ok, as I pondered I thought of school colors.  Wow, what memory.  An arrangement made from my son’s college.  So away I went in search of roses in my son’s school colors.
I did not have to look far.  Flower explosion had everything I needed except the container.  After looking through their rose selection, I found their bi-and tricolored roses in many different combinations along with personalized colors mixes.  Boy did they save me.  They had just the colors I was looking for, which happened to be yellow and blue.
Graduation Flowers Arrangement Supplies
Now that I had found my roses, I could begin to design this small but important arrangement.  To begin the process you will need to gather materials, which includes a photo cube, a container that will fit inside the photo cube, floral knife, floral preservative, scissors, photos, colored roses of your choice, and filler.  I like green ball.  It adds texture and a little whimsy to the arrangement but use what pleases your eye as far as the filler.
Flower Vases
Once you have your supplies together, the next step is to fill the vase that will fit inside the photo cube with water.  Add powdered floral preservative to the water.  While I will be taking the “vase out of the photo cube I wanted to show you how this fits into the cube.  The fact that the vase is shorter than the photo cube is very important.  Having it a little shorter keeps you from having to fill in around the top edge to cover it up.
cut stems

Next comes processing the flowers.  Since this is a short arrangement, the roses are going to be cut all at once to start.  Why is this?  Well, it saves time and you can use the fact that the roses are still held together by rubber bands.  In doing so, it makes cutting them in one action easier but do not worry, we will be making new cuts before they are put in the vase.

process flowers

The next step is to remove the “vase” from the photo cube and begin the floral arranging.  This is a very free-form type of arrangement but what you are looking for a dome type shape on the top.  To help you with this, slide the “vase” to the edge of the table and then position your rose along the edge of the table to measure the height.  Once you have the height, you are ready to cut but keep in mind that roses are special.  To keep air bubbles from forming in the stem, one will need to cut the stem under running water.  If that is not possible, put the stem in a bucket of water and cut that way.

size stems

After the rose has been cut, place in the vase.  Continue with this process until your “vase” is filled.  Do not worry in the beginning of this arrangement that your roses are not standing up.  They will as more and more roses are added to the arrangement.  The intertwining of the stems will hold the roses up.

intertwine stems

Once you have your “vase” filled with roses, the next step is to add some whimsy.  As I stated before, I like the green balls but there are several other choices for filler if these are not your cup of tea.  When it comes to processing this filler flower, the easiest way is to cut the stems together as we did for the roses.

filler flowers

After the stems have been shortened, it is time to separate out the individual green balls.  At this point, you may wonder how many you need.  The golden rule is always odd numbers.  An odd arrangement of flowers, believe it or not, has been scientifically proven to be more pleasing to the eye.  In doing so, add three or more green balls throughout the arrangement.  Again, this is to add texture or to break up the visual impact of the roses somewhat while filling in some open spaces.

size photo

The next step in this process is to prepare your pictures for the photo cube.  While you can cut your pictures freehand, I like to use a pattern.  Where does the pattern come from?  Most photo cubes come with a cardboard insert.  This insert can be used to cut a pattern out of an old picture.  Once you have your pattern, you can use it to measure off the area you need to cut off of your picture.  Also, it will allow you to see what your picture will look like before you make the cut.

insert photo

After the picture has been cut, you have a few choices.  You can tape them to the inside of the photo cube.  Another choice is to allow the “vase” to hold the pictures in their place.  This will only work if the “vase” fits snug.

graduation flowers photo cube completed
Now that your pictures are in the cube, you are ready to display it.
flower photo displayed on table
While this arrangement is simple, there are several things you can do to up the WOW factor.  One, create your own photo cube.  This is easily done by taking two glass squares per side.  Wedge a picture between two pieces of glass and glue together.  After all panes are done, glue the cube together.  This is a great way of personalizing the cube so that you do not have to cut the photos.  Another way you can create additional memories is by allowing people to add to the arrangement.  Lay out scrapbooking paper, colored pens, and bamboo skewers.  Or, cut out small pendants that can be attached to the skewers.  Either of these can be used as a way that people can leave “best wishes” and add them to the arrangement.
Once the party is over, make sure to place the arrangement is a room that is kept cool and away from direct sunlight.  Do not forget about the water.  Since this arrangement is small, you will need to add water often.  To keep the roses looking their best, make a fresh cut every time you add fresh water.
After the arrangement is over, do not just put away the photo cube.  Instead, display it and use it as a vase for other flowers or as a pencil holder on the desk of that “real” first job.

June 24, 2015 — Mark Kubala