How to make corn stooks

Posted in All Floristry and Crafts, July, on

When our niece got married we made a series of small corn stooks.  They were the table centres at the beginning of the evening and then - when the food arrived - they were placed in buckets all around the edge of the dance floor to encircle it in a field of flowers.

We also used them to line the aisle, tied with hop bine to the end of every pew. That's a good, money- and time-saving system, to make double or triple use of the flowers, in the church and then for the reception.

There was time while the guests had a drink after the service, to move the stooks from the church to the marquee.

You will need:

Step 1

Sear the stem ends of the poppies in boiling water for 30 seconds. This stem-sealing enables even the most delicate poppies to hold their petals for at least a day or two.

Step 2

If there are more buds than flowers on a stem of poppies, peel off the calyx and the petals will unfurl gradually over the next couple of hours. Do this carefully, separating the sections of the calyx gently with your thumbs and then peel them back.

Step 3

For the small stooks, you want to arrange them in your hand, starting with the barley and wild grasses, filled out with Alchemilla mollis and dock to give the bunch some bulk.

Step 4

Then add the flowers, threading them through the foliage structure - larkspur, love-in-a-mist, cornflowers and opium poppies, whatever cornfield weed you fancy, a randomly placed sprinkling of each.

Step 5

Tie the bunch with a double length of twine, looping the two cut ends through the loop. Then one end goes one way, the other, the other way. Twist the string round the bunch a couple of times and tie it off. Cover the green twine with hop bine using the same knot and twisting system. This gives a chunky, straight out of the field feel and look.

Step 6

Cut the stem ends to the same length so the bunch has a flat base. This is key, so the stook will stand up easily.

Step 7

If the flowers are only going to sit out of water for a few hours, once conditioned well and given a good drink after picking for at least a day, they should last fine, just standing like that straight on the table.

Our bunches had to last a whole day so they needed to be in water. We secured them into the base of shallow glass bowls with pin-holders and Oasis fix, and with the larger, heavier ones, wedged them in with stones covered in hessian. If you don't have trays, lean them at an angle, still tied in a bucket so they look as if they've just been dropped in - quick and random.

Large corn stooks

These are glorified versions of the smaller stooks, with more flowers which are bigger and more glamorous - delphiniums, white foxgloves, larkspur, dill and Bishop's flower. We stood these at the entrance to the church and then moved them to the marquee, so people had to brush past these as they came in.

Step 1

Start off in the same way as for the small stooks, creating a bunch as big as you can, holding it in your hands, but mix the flowers and foliage as you go.

Step 2

Once the bunch gets too big and heavy to hold, lay it out on the table and continue adding to it, lying flat, tying it once or twice as you go, and then adding more around it. You create an inner bunch and carry on adding around the outside.

Step 3

Lift it up and stand it on the ground and check from a distance if the overall flower balance if random, not clumped. Then tie off with twine using the same knot as you did for the smaller stooks and finish it again with hop bine.