Perfect blooms

Decorating with fresh flowers makes scents

Just in time for Mother’s Day, we are delighted to share this exclusive extract from Kiwi stylist Sandra Kaminski’s glorious new book

Although the stems of these bunches are not in sight, the green of the plump freesia buds provide a natural contrast to flowers. PhotoGeoff Hedley

With a background in marketing and merchandising fashion, Sandra Kaminski’s discerning eye for colour, design and texture soon led her to more artistic pursuits, and she is now a hugely successful stylist.

Sandra’s love of flowers, fabrics and entertaining – and her mantra of “living life beautifully”– is exquisitely expressed in the settings she creates for special occasions and seasonal celebrations.

“Buying flowers should be fun and enjoyable,” she says.

“I get a real buzz talking to my local flower grower about what’s fresh from the auctions and wholesalers. Flowers can be like fashion – one day you’re in, the next day you’re out, but of course there are classic blooms that will always be with us.”

These matching lavender pillows add a nice touch of warmth, with the pansy tying it into the setting. PhotoGeoff Hedley.


• Always buy flowers from a reputable outlet and choose blooms with firm petals and buds that show a hint of colour to ensure they will fully develop and open.

• Avoid disappointment and refrain from buying flowers at a service station – it’s not their core business. Stick to your local florist or flower seller.

• When shopping for flowers, look for those which are New Zealand grown as they are simply better and fresher. Imported flowers won’t last for any significant period of time, due to the strict quarantine.

The fragrance and delicate structure of sweet peas and pansies make them a favourite for those times when a light, feminine touch is required. They’re perfect for embellishing food too.PhotoGeoff Hedley.


• Learn what is in season, so you won’t be disappointed when you’re looking for peonies in June.

• If giving flowers as a gift, they’re like diamonds: Bigger is better and the presentation matters!

• Buying flowers online is easy, but it’s good to check out the arrangements the florist has featured. Is the style from this century? Are they using

ones you’d choose for yourself?

• I believe the energy of a room changes when flowers are added. We should buy them regularly, rather than for special occasions. Each season brings new delights.

Roses, tulips, freesias and ranunculus have been used to create a rustic indoor-outdoor effect. These colours command attention so don’t be shy about using big, bold patterns to complement them craft blooms.PhotosGeoff Hedley


• Ensure the flowers are well wrapped for protection – and if they’ll be out of water for a while, ask that the stems be wrapped with damp paper.

• Cut stems on an angle. This gives the stem a bigger area from which to draw water and prevents it from resting flat on the bottom of the vase.

• Don’t smash the stems or use blunt scissors, as this reduces water uptake and causes bacteria to multiply more quickly and over a larger area. It also causes the flowers undue stress, which will shorten their lives.

• Don’t place flowers in a draught, direct sunlight or over-warm centrally heated rooms. Every few days, trim the stems, top up with water and add fresh flower food.

• Forget putting copper coins, lemonade, bleach or aspirin in the water. These popular tips and old wives’ tales don’t actually work, nor do they

feed your flowers adequately.

A cake for the eyes, rather than the mouth, can make a dramatic centrepiece – this one, crafted from carnations, roses and chrysanthemums, is mounted on a stark, white stand. PhotoGeoff Hedley.


• I like very simple vessels – everything from old jars and water bottles, to cute teacups and old silver. I also like to gift flowers in old cans to which I’ve given a new lease of life with a paper wrapper. Instructions for these can be downloaded from my new website.

• Glass vases can look stunning, as does a line-up of different-sized white jugs. When flowers are scarce and expensive, display single blooms in glass bottles to give the impression of more.

A combination of bright reds and crisp greens is one of nature’s best autumn party tricks. PhotoGeoff Hedley.

• Flowers have their own personalities and I don’t like to force them into any form or shape that does not come naturally – hence I don’t tend to do a lot of structured work. I love to see the same flower in bulk, as it shows off the blooms’ true beauty and the collective fragrance can be stunning.

• Instructions for making a floral ice bucket, flower swags using Oasis foam, as well as templates for the labels, gift tags and related stationary can be found on my website.

Flowers at Home, by Sandra Kaminski. Photos by Geoff Hedley (Renaissance Publishing, $65). Visit for more information.

By Guest Craft Editor Sandra Kaminski

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