There’s something so appealing about wildflowers—the way they fill a landscape with unexpected beauty, their unique color and shape, and the fact that they seem to pop up at random in your backyard, a nearby park, or at your favorite local farm stand. To learn how to incorporate nature’s bounty into our homes, we spoke with Jenn Pineau, owner of Nature Composed in Middleburg, Virginia, about how to create beautiful and lasting arrangements using the wildflowers blooming in your area. While the flowers you’ll have to work with will depend on where you live, as well as the season, the following fundamentals will serve you well no matter what you’ve gathered.

Follow nature’s lead. Do you find yourself often having a hard time deciding which flowers to use in an arrangement? One of the wonderful things about using wildflowers is that Mother Nature will choose for you. According to Pineau, in early to mid-July, you’ll likely find an abundance of the following flowers (among many others): hydrangea, yarrow, roses, poppies, stock, nicotiana, lady’s mantle, Orlaya, Queen Anne’s lace, coreopsis, salvia, lavender, guara, Heuchera, clematis, penstemon. She also provides this helpful seasonal breakdown of what to look for:

  • Spring: Daffodils, Muscari, flowering branches, hellebores, spirea, tulips, larkspur, poppies
  • Summer: Yarrow, peonies, tulips, cosmos, iris, Queen Anne’s lace, clematis, cone flowers, hydrangeas, zinnias
  • Fall: Milkweed, cosmos, Japanese anemones, dahlias, zinnias, Joe Pye weed, ironweed
  • Winter: Evergreen branches, berries, pods, Nandina foliage, Russian olive, hellebores

Incorporate other natural elements to add interest. To make your arrangement truly dynamic, Pineau recommends adding non-floral elements, such as grasses and seed pods, into the mix. Some of her favorites include poppy pods, grasses, nigella seed head, and baby fruits.

Harvest early or late in the day. As you’re planning your gathering session, remember that when you pick your flowers matters. “Fresh cut stems don’t hydrate well if cut in the heat of the day,” Pineau says. She also recommends using a sterile bucket to cut into to eliminate the risk of fungus or bacterial growth and to ultimately preserve shelf life.

Get creative with your vessel. For ease of arranging, and when working with larger bouquets, Pineau recommends using a container that’s at least six inches tall. Beyond that, anything goes—a traditional vase, a quart-size Ball jar, a pitcher, or even a series of small bud vases in varying heights. In terms of materials, clear glass, ceramics, or milk glass can be charming.

Keep your cuttings hydrated. When making your initial arrangement, Pineau recommends giving the stems a fresh cut to allow them to soak up as much water as possible. She also encourages you to add fresh water daily to extend the life of your blooms.

Be prepared for your bouquet to evolve. Each stem in your wildflower arrangement will have a different vase life, says Pineau, noting that some will start looking lackluster on day two, while others will look great after two weeks. On the whole, you can expect an arrangement to last for a week, but don’t hesitate to pluck out spent stems to extend the beauty of your arrangement.

TSG Tip 372 from Jenn Pineau of Nature Composed in Middleburg, Virginia. Nature Composed is featured in The Scout Guide Hunt Country.