I have featured several sets of events on this blog where we used dozens and dozens of roses. This “ruby-themed” dinner for Mrs. MM’s birthday, for example. Or roses arranged a la Jeff Leatham, here and here. There have also been posts where roses were cut short, for a christmas topiary, for gift arrangements here and here, and other events. So it surprises me that I have never featured the key tools of the trade… In answer to reader “acmr’s” questions, in the previous post on roses, here is a glimpse of my toolbox.
Yes, it is a literal toolbox. In it I have shears, wire, plant or flower food, sharp knives, etc. But the most relevant tool (in answer to acmr’s query) is this “thorn stripper” that works superbly with roses. You basically squeeze them gently around the stem and pull firmly downwards and all the leaves and thorns come off in a second or less. This tool allows you to strip hundreds of roses in no time at all. You can buy them at wholesale flower markets in the U.S., or probably even on-line these days. Sister sends me a steady supply, usually a half dozen of them at a time, so now we have them at the beach, in our office in Cebu and several in the toolbox. They are wonderful, and totally worth the money (Less than $8 each, I think).
Besides the thorn stripper, I find these small, thin and sharp knives to be equally useful. They make cutting rose and other flower stems so easy and you get a clean quick cut that presumably damages the “veins” of the stem less than if you use say a scissors. Actually, NEVER use scissors to cut rose stems or many other flower stems… you are likely to crush and collapse the veins of the bloom and they will have difficulty drinking.
Also in the toolbox is some green wire, some clear and green tape, etc. The wire is used to tie up bunches or train flowers. I don’t use it often. Tape is used to create ways to hold up stems nicely in wide crystal or glass vases. My heavy garden shears are for branches or other seriously hard-stemmed blooms or shrubbery.
Of course you could also just use a trusty swiss knife or other pocket gadget, but with sap and all, I am not sure you want to mess with your pricey gadget.
Then again, you might have a customized (monogrammed) little pocket knife for emergencies, or just arte, like this one a handsome, useful and incredibly sharp kershaw knife that my nephew gave me for Christmas one year. Probably the year I helped with the flowers at his wedding, here. The knife came in handy for floral arrangements at my niece’s wedding years later, here and here. Yup, I like my knives. And I don’t only mean my kitchen knives. :)