Wedding frogs and flower frogs

The wedding tent was up, the lights strung, tables placed, and all was good as we came home from the nearby rehearsal dinner. Her parents had worked for months to make sure the family farm fields, home gardens, and landscaping were in peak form for the big event. I was there to help where I could and share in the love and excitement with the family. 

We knew it would rain overnight, but what a surprise (and the bride’s horror) when during an early morning walk through the tent, we discovered the dance floor filled with frogs. Where did they come from? I’m laughing even as I type because of all the events I have planned and been a part of; all the “what if scenarios” I have prepared for; I never imaged frogs. 

Well, the frogs were easy to shoo away, the skies were sunny, the bride was beautiful, and it was a perfect day. As with all weddings, it was a day where stories and memories were made.

Funny as it was, those little frogs are not what’s on my mind today. I am thinking of flower frogs, the kind often used in floral arrangements – and they, too, have quite a story.

Used in the fourteenth century for the Japanese flower arranging art, known as Ikebana, which requires exact placement of perfect blooms, they grew from very basic to elaborate figurines. The early frogs were made of iron. Then, pottery, glass, bronze, and ceramics.

There are several different types of frogs. The round disc with sharp spikes is a basic design. This pincushion disc should be secured to the bottom of a bowl or teacup with florist clay. Securing the frog is important to stabilize the arrangement. Add flowers by pushing the base of the stems into the spikes.

Frogs made with holes work well for thicker stems such as tulips. Individual stems are placed in each hole. This gives the option of the stems being artfully arranged to stand tall or be at an angle. Using frogs not only keeps the stems in the correct position but also gives them all access to water to prolong the blooms.

Hairpin frogs or those with loops allow for the manipulation of stems and leaves. This can add drama to the design.

In 1916 the first metal cage flower frog was patented by William R. Strack of Drazey Manufacturing. Frogs were quite popular until the 1954 invention of water-absorbing floral foam.

Don’t worry about the flower frogs; they continue to be a sought-after collector’s item, bringing hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars in antique shops. The more ornate, the more valuable. They are even found in the Smithsonian Gardens as part of the Horticultural Artifacts Collections.

If you are arranging stems at home and don’t have an antique frog, don’t worry – you can make your own. A handful of chicken wire pressed into balls sized to fit your container will give you holes to insert thicker stems.

Another option is to use floral tape to create a grid on the top of a vase or bow. The taped grid will act like a frog and support stems that are placed in the container.

If you happen to run across a vintage flower frog in a shop, grab it. They can hold photos, recipes, or favorite postcards. You might even begin a collection for a gardener, something you can continue to add to over the years. Learn more about collecting with the book Flower Frogs for Collectors (Schiffer Book for Collectors) by Bonnie Bull.