The Lawyer Learns Flowers: Valentine’s Day Edition

As many of you know, Michael, FTD’s VP of Floral Design and I, one of FTD’s lawyers, launched a blog series where he teaches me the basics of flowers.  If you’d like to read up on our history, please click here.

In this, our sophomore effort at blogging and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, Michael took things to a higher level with the flowers he expected me to learn.


Lawyers learn flowers arranging bouquet 2


I took one look at the flowers Michael laid out before me and thought he was expecting a lot.  Perhaps I had performed well in passing his first quiz, perhaps he just liked these flowers, in any case, this week would be a test – and, I suppose I was up for the challenge.

We had decided to take some photos for our post and ventured down to the studio we have here at FTD.  I immediately realized that this would become a crash course in making an actual bouquet. This is what I learned.


Lawyer learns flowers valentine's day Michael Skaff & Jen Baumann


Michael laid out all of the stems for the three flowers in front of me on a small wooden table along with some shears, a few vases, and some twine.  I stared at him.  He explained that first I would have to remove the leaves from the stem.  By the time I struggled through one stem, Michael had made it through 5-6 and had a neat pile prepared for the bouquet.  He looked down at my progress, smiled and laughed at me.

He handed me two stems that I grasped tightly – too tightly.  “Well, don’t crush them,” he joked to me, looking directly at my death grip hold I had on the flowers.  The first flower looks a bit like a Picasso painting to me – either that or an elephant or something else entirely? Smile.  It’s exotic and tropical features stand out especially in winter in Chicago and it’s waxy finish make it almost look fake.



Lawyers learn flowers arranging bouquet


“Now, take stems and position them in a circle, add one stem and twist,” he said.  I stared back at him, a little lost, but I had no choice but to try and put this bouquet together.  “Heavier flowers and stems toward the bottom, lighter smaller flowers in the middle and toward the top.  They can’t all be at the same height.” I tried to hand the bouquet back to him to let him complete it, but no luck.


Lawyer learns flowers valentine's day Michael Skaff & Jen Baumann

Lawyer learns flowers valentine's day Michael Skaff


I hadn’t fully appreciated what went into making the perfect bouquet before this experience.  The selection of the flowers, the color of the flowers, the right fillers, the relative size of the flowers to each other and to the vase, the right vase and the right height were all important considerations.  I had always randomly put stems haphazardly in a vase, which now explains why they ended up looking so sad.


Lawyer learns flowers valentine's day adding flowers


While I was listening to Michael explain the process, I struck by the considerable thought, care and attention to detail it really took to put together a bouquet.  Making things look simple and beautiful takes an enormous amount of time and care.


Lawyer learns flowers valentine's day Jen Baumann


As we continued, I wasn’t sure how this particular combination of flowers would turn out, but I had faith in the man that casually mentioned to me that he had assisted in designing flowers for two inaugurations and an academy awards show.  He mentioned this with such subtlety that it took me a full second to comprehend what he had said and I had to clarify, “like, as in, the Obamas and the Oscars?”

“Well, yeah,” he said.  I was definitely in over my head.


Lawyer learns flowers valentine's day final bouquet


We continued adding flowers to the bouquet and I continued my death grip until he convinced me to “loosen up” my grip.  A statement not altogether unfamiliar for a lawyer to hear.  Michael showed me how to tie the bouquet, measure it against the height of the vase and place it properly in its final perfect position.  Voila! A Valentine’s Day bouquet.

If I can do it – you can too.  If you want to see these particular flowers in FTD’s bouquets, take a look at the links included below or contact one of our many local FTD retail member locations.  And you can see Michael featured on The Daily Buzz here.


Lawyer learns flowers valentine's day table setting final


Dendrobium Mokara Pink Orchid:

Colors:  Pink

Locations:  Southeast Asia

Other Information:  Place these in water immediately.



Colors:  Greens, whites, pinks, reds

Locations:  Tropical America

Duration:  Ongoing

Other Information: This is actually a plant! It is actually sometimes called the “Painter’s Palatte”.  My thoughts are not always unique.


Freesia Casis:

Colors:  Pink and Hot Pink

Other Information: I love this scent because it reminds me of my favorite bath and body products.  The flowers should be put in water mixed with a low sugar solution.  These are cold weather crops.