This is a flower arrangement to decorate the table at a typical meeting, right? Nope. Look closer. It’s not made of flowers. It’s made of … vegetables! Yes, these are vegetables and not flowers. The “mums” and greenery are leeks, the “paintbrushes” are green onions, the “roses” are rutabagas and turnips and the splash of organge is from carrots. Emily Kelley, a chef and caterer and educator in Florence, Alabama, has been creating vegetable bouquets like this for years and recently showed fellow American Association of University Women members how to do it. She made it look easy, and really it is simple — with patience and the right equipment. For instance, the roses are slices of rutabagas and turnips shaped and toothpicked together — the slices’ natural curves create the flower, but you need a commercial slicer to get the pieces thin and consistent enough. (Emily recommended making friends with someone who has one.) The mums and paintbrushes are the bottoms of leeks and green onions cut along their natural lines. The carrots were the hardest part — she sliced them horizontally and then cut the slices in a way that each one was still intact but had individual slices in it that curved out when she toothpicked the ends together. (I know that doesn’t make sense — sorry!) Emily does all the blossoms first, then puts them into ice water to stiffen. Then, when she puts the arrangement together, she threads a bamboo skewer through the blossoms (hiding the skewers in green-onion greenery) and arranges them with florist tools such as vases, tape and foam to perpetuate the flower illusion. We were all amazed and astounded, and one young woman declared she now wanted these instead of floral decorations for her wedding!
Published by shoalswriter
I'm a freelance writer, editor and marketing consultant focusing on style, history, food and the arts in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. I'm also an adjunct journalism instructor and writing coach. My husband is a newspaper sports editor, and he and I are from middle Tennessee. Older Daughter and her husband, an artist and high-school art teacher, live nearby with our three young grandsons. Younger Daughter works in PR and event planning and also lives nearby. View all posts by shoalswriter