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Creamy, Frothy, Snowy White Bouquets: Glossary

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer/Fall 1998

White flowers make simple and/or formal bouquets. They can be self-effacing (baby's breath, lily of the valley) or proudly starched and frilled (orchids, calla lilies). Crowd your bouquet with dense buds, or leave room for the butterflies, but gather some of the classics: That elegant Art Deco favorite, the white calla lily, was especially chic with that era's slim, satiny gowns.

Casablanca lilies, ruffly and starlike, are fairly new in the florist trade, though lilies have been beloved by brides since ancient times. Highly scented freesias are graceful and long-lasting. Their smallish, tubular buds open successively along arching stems. The French tulip is larger, taller, and altogether tulipier than the home-grown sort. The white variety, however, can be fragile, and in bouquets these tulips may droop. Elegant and high-centered in bud, the long-stemmed hothouse rose, or hybrid tearose, is roseate perfection in flower.

Hybrid teas differ from old-fashioned garden roses in form. Garden roses might have anything from a single row of petals surrounding a starburst of yellow stamens to hundreds of overlapping petals in multiple sprays. One or two gardenias were once the classic corsage, but their waxen petals have to be fresh and protected from handling, as they bruise and yellow easily.

Mophead hydrangea blossoms (scentless) are best known in blue, but the white form is a fresh, snowy ball. The nodding bells of lily of the valley, the most demure and popular of small white blossoms, create traditional nosegays, full of perfume. Orchids were once the definitive hothouse blossom, luxurious-looking and pricey, but flamboyant cattleya orchids, like those used in our bouquets, can be grown in sunny rooms.

The pink, satiny petals and clean fragrance of peonies are reminiscent of old-fashioned gardens. White ranunculuses have countless petals arranged in a goblet form. They resemble roses, without perfume. The small, starry stephanotis is a white-flowering vine; it is a good mixer and an enduring bridal favorite.

Sweetpeas, brought to England from Sicily in 1699, weren't extensively hybridized until Victorian times. Tuberoses are feathery, fragile looking, and can be hard to find. But the highly fragrant variety we're familiar with are tough natives of Mexico and can be grown in a warm garden.

Creamy, Frothy, Snowy White Bouquets

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