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03/12 Sunday 08:58AM

lasting blooms for pretty rooms

Although it is not a written law of etiquette in Brunei to accept a dinner invitation to a friend's or acquaintance's home and not arrive empty-handed, bringing along a thoughtful gift is a nice gesture that will endear you to the person who extended that invitation, especially if the person is a lady.  It may be perfectly OK to turn up empty-handed at your best pal's pad in sandals and just-out-of-bed hair, however, some invitations implicitly calls for a reciprocal act of friendship.

What lady host would not adore a bunch of fresh flowers to adorn her home so next time, instead of another collection of chocolates or chocolate-covered biscuits, why not present a flower arrangement or bouquet to mark your appreciation of the generous invitation?  To stretch your dollar and reduce costs, consider putting together the floral arrangement yourself.

When shopping for flowers, look at the leaves for clues to their freshness.  Bright green, perky leaves signal a fresh bloom and if leaves are yellow or falling off the stem, ignore them. Sometimes older flowers are sold with their foliage stripped or wrapped in paper so you can't see them. 

If you are looking to save on costs, go for local flowers rather than imported ones. Flowers that don't have to travel long distances also tend to be fresher and last longer. Imported flowers may have to weather delays in shipping and transits so their condition may be weak by the time they arrive in your local florist.

The easiest way to create an arrangement with impact is to present flowers in a mass of a singular type.  You can use any flower, such as baby's breath or chrysanthemum, and bunch them together. The more stems you have, the greater the impact. Another way is to bunch different flowers of the same shade together.  If you keep flowers in the same colour palette, you can use five different kinds of flowers and the arrangement will still have some kind of unity about it.

Make your blooms more stunning by using unconventional containers such as teapots, jars or gravy boat.  You can find bargain containers that add elegance to your arrangement and make it stand out from the ones in traditional vases. Just make sure the containers are very clean with no residual soap left in it, and use room-temperature water.

If you want to make your masterpiece of a bouquet last longer, you need to change the water frequently, at least every other day.  If you are worried about messing up your arrangement, simply hold the vase under a running tap and flush the dirty water out.  There are tricks to help flowers stay fresh longer. Some florists provide a small packet of 'flower food' to add to the water.  Some people add a touch of Sprite to the water in the vase.  One tip that you should heed is to keep your flowers in a cool room and not a freezing one.  Extreme temperatures cause 'trauma' to the flowers and that will weaken them.

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