Arranging Tips

By Julia Dowling Rutland

•Novice arrangers should select a single type of flower. Choices that are easy to arrange include hydrangeas, peonies, and tulips.

•Cut garden flowers early in the morning before they get stressed by hot sun. Leave as much length as possible on the stems-you will cut them again while arranging.

•Watch where you pick: In some areas, it's illegal to cut wild grasses, reeds, and flowers.

•Scrub containers thoroughly before adding water and flowers. Use a drop of bleach in the soapy water to kill bacteria.

•Cut stems under water to prevent air bubbles, which block the flow of water up the stem.

•Cut stems on most flowers at a 45 degree angle using a sharp knife. Avoid dull scissors; they may crush the stems and prevent water intake.

•Make a 2-inch slice up the cut ends of woody-stemmed plants, such as forsythia and rosemary, to allow water absorption.

•Trim away leaves and flowers below the water line to avoid decay and excess bacterial growth.

•Remove thorns from roses with a small paring knife. Start at the blossom end and work down.

•Snip stamens from lilies. Pollen that falls from the stamens will stain furniture, clothing, and table linens.

•Condition cut flowers by immediately placing them in cool, clean water for at least one hour to overnight.

•Use tepid water for arrangements; ice-cold water is not absorbed as well.

•Keep arrangements away from direct sun and excess heat.

Easy Does It

•Fill a glass bowl with sand, seashells, and water for an indoor view of the ocean.

•Fill colorful beach pails with bouquets of flowers. Add a few inches of sand to the bottom to keep arrangements from being top-heavy.

•Float blossoms in teacups on saucers.

•Slice lemons in half lengthwise; cut out a bit of flesh and insert a small votive candle. Float lemon halves in a clear bowl of water.

•Place small votive candles in seashells. Place shells along center of table or in a tray of sand or rock salt.

•Place a beautiful dessert at the table's center. Garnish it with edible flowers and surround it with candles to showcase your hard work.

•Fill a bowl with fresh fruit--always a classic.