TO CREATE THE ROSE BOUQUET
STEP 1 First, unwrap the roses from the packaging and clip about one inch from the bottom of the stems of the roses and put them into a large bucket of cold water to hydrate them.
STEP 2 After at least an hour (or even overnight) soaking in water, the roses are ready to be conditioned. Take them out of the bucket and the wrapping paper and lay them down on a clean work surface.
STEP 3 Taking one rose at a time, stand the rose up with the flower facing you. Gently slide your knife down the stem and cut off the thorns and most of the leaves starting at about three inches below the flower.
STEP 4 Lay the cleaned roses in a small pile on the table in front of you so that the heads of the roses are lined up neatly together.
STEP 5 Fold the brown paper packaging into a triangle and wrap the flowers with the paper making sure that the bottom of the triangle is clasping the stems. Staple the brown paper together so that the roses are comfortably packed together.
STEP 6 Using the clippers, clip the bottoms of the stems evenly about two inches or as long as the shortest stem.
STEP 7 Boil water to fill up the small round bowl and pour it into the bowl. Stand the stems up in the bowl and hold them for three minutes. The roses can be placed next to a wall if they are evenly cut at the bottoms.
STEP 8 Take the roses out of the hot water and immediately plunge them into a bucket filled with clear cold water. You can do this up to twenty-four hours ahead of time if you have a cool place for the roses.
STEP 9 Take your florist's knife and hold the handle between your thumb and your index finger with the other three fingers securing the knife. Pull the knife across the stem of each rose diagonally and away from your body, making sure that your thumb is not in the way. Use the lower part of the knife so that you have more control. Don't put pressure on your thumb. Roses are cut at a diagonal so that they have the maximum ability to drink water.
STEP 10 Place one rose diagonally in the corner of the vase and cut the stem so that the flower sits on the top edge of the vase. Cut another rose and place it in the opposite corner at the same height as the first one. Then add another rose and place the stem under the opposing stem. Do the next corner, cutting to measure each rose so that it is the same height as the others. Keep going around the vase adding stems clockwise under the stems that are already in the water until the vase is full.
Ideally, you should have some neat stems crisscrossing at the bottom of the vase, and the roses on top should form a flat dome with none higher or lower than the others. If you have cut a few of the stems too short, you can tuck them into the middle layers, which require slightly shorter stems than the outer layers. Depending on your taste, as well as how you have cut the roses, the dome will either be rounded or flat. Flat on the top is more graphic and architectural; rounded is somewhat more romantic.