Summer is in full bloom and so are some of the most beautiful flowers. It's also the season for entertaining at home. With that comes refreshing your home with bright floral arrangements that are sure to have your friends and family talking. Viral floral artist John Pendleton—also known by his brand, Planks and Pistils—has mastered the art of arranging, and sat down to share some of his easy-to-follow tips and tricks with us.

Originally from a small town in Alabama, he grew up watching his father run a cabinetry business as well as his mom work as a preschool teacher—which also meant she was very crafty. Pendleton naturally picked up on his parent's respective skills and passions, and found that art was also a creative means of self-care.

"When I got older, I went into youth development non-profit work, which could be stressful at times," John Pendleton shares. "I needed mental and emotional breaks, so I would design flowers around the house. I just always had flowers around, and found that it was an actual art to arranging. From there, I started posting what I was doing online and around 2017 it blossomed into a business."

Nearly six years later, Planks and Pistils is becoming a household name around the Chicago area. The brand's name is a nod to his parents—planks as an ode to his father's work with wood, and pistils for his mother, which is the official term for the female organs of flowers.

John Pendleton of Planks and Pistils. Image: @joseaglrr.

"It's an homage to my parents. My mom loves flowers and I learned woodwork from my dad, so I wanted to honor that. He always wanted me to get into the business and I always said no, but now, I'm honestly dying to work with woods now that my flower business is doing so well."

Below, the Chicago-based artist drops some of his trusted, easy-to-follow tips and tricks for us to utilize this summer as we practice our own arrangements.

EBONY: What flowers are in bloom this season that are easy for us to work with or use right now?

John Pendleton: While most people typically look for them for Valentine's Day, garden roses are really great for summer. For a different look with your roses, you can actually take the petals and push them back. When you reflex your roses, it can be very pretty. Of course, sunflowers are popular in summer. I personally just like to fill a vase with them without mixing any other florals in. Dahlias are in bloom right now, and are gorgeous. I also like working with ranunculus florals; it's my favorite flower. All of these can be found in local stores or even Trader Joe's. I personally source my flowers from wholesale markets, which is another great place to look as well.

Image: Courtesy of John Pendleton.

What suggestions do you have as far as properly caring for our florals?

You want to take all the foliage off of your florals, especially any greenery under the vase line. If it gets into your water, it can contaminate it, which will make your flowers die faster. You should aim to refresh your vases with fresh, cold water daily, if possible. Filtered water is even better. Despite them being florals, you also don't want to keep them in direct sunlight. Once flowers are pulled from the ground and the stems are cut, they no longer need direct light to grow. Finally, make sure you don't get your arrangements too close to heating and air vents.

Are there specific vases that work best for arrangements?

For at-home arranging, clear vases can be good because they are an easy reminder of when you need to refresh your water. But for aesthetic purposes I like solid, ceramic vases. As far as sizes, smaller vases are easier to work with. It gives more opportunity for your arrangement design, since you are working with a smaller space. With smaller vases, you just have to be aware of constantly refilling them, since they hold less water.

As we attempt to put together our own stunning florals, what key things should we keep in mind as we build them?

When it comes to playing around and getting creative, add a ball of chicken wire into your vase. It's a cheat code to being able to create fun angles. If you can't find chicken wire, you can make a grid in the top of your vase using clear tape, it's the same idea. Since we're in summer, look for bright florals and don't be afraid to have a mix of colors, heights, and even textures. I like arranging in an asymmetrical shape, because it forces your eyes to move.

Another great thing about summer is you can also forage things from your backyard or local area to add to your arrangements. Don't shy away from things like weeds, Queen Anne's lace, grass and thistle as accents. This way, you can also save money by mixing things you forage with florals you may buy from your local grocery store, and still get a gorgeous product.

Image: Courtesy of John Pendleton.

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