The Flower Lady’s Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Backyard Bouquet

Business is blooming for florist Deb Fowler.

Strolling through the Village of Wauwatosa, it’s hard to miss The Flower Lady. Baskets of brightly colored flora hang from wrought-iron hooks outside the store. Potted plants sit alongside the entrance. And inside, freshly cut blooms and arrangements vie for visitor attention.

Deb Fowler has been running the boutique for more than 25 years. But she’s been interested in plants even longer. “My grandma gave me my first snip of one when I was just a kid,” she says. “She handed it to me and this sense of responsibility settled over me, but I loved it.”

A graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Fowler is as interested in art as she is in nature. Over the years, she’s stocked her store with art she’s picked up while traveling and occasionally displays her own work too.

She sources her wares from around the world but also maintains close relationships with local artisans and growers. “I go to every local grower and scout out what they have,” she says. “Then I go back and pick the best ones.”

How to Make a Backyard Bouquet


Step 1

Pick flowers early in the morning, when stems are filled with water, which will keep them fresh longer. Gather some greenery for your arrangement.

Step 2

Add flower food to your vase, then fill as full as possible with water. Some amateur florists use soda instead of flower food, but the sugar in it feeds bacteria.

Step 3

Remove any foliage that falls below the water line. Use a sharp knife to cut stems; this will allow them to continue to take in water from the vase.

Step 4

Arrange greenery in the vase first – it will help keep blooms in place. Insert flowers one at a time, trimming stems to achieve varying heights.

Step 5

It’s a good idea to place larger flowers lower, and smaller ones higher. As you do this, turn the arrangement, so you can see it from every angle.

“Flower Power” appears in the August 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning August 1, or buy a copy at

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.