By Julia Dowling Rutland
September 04, 2002
Jim Bathe

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

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

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

•Scrub containers thoroughly before adding water andflowers. Use a drop of bleach in the soapy water to killbacteria.

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

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

•Make a 2-inch slice up the cut ends of woody-stemmedplants, such as forsythia and rosemary, to allow waterabsorption.

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

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

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

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

•Use tepid water for arrangements; ice-cold water is notabsorbed as well.

•Keep arrangements away from direct sun and excessheat.Easy Does It

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

•Fill colorful beach pails with bouquets of flowers. Add afew inches of sand to the bottom to keep arrangements from beingtop-heavy.

•Float blossoms in teacups on saucers.

•Slice lemons in half lengthwise; cut out a bit of fleshand insert a small votive candle. Float lemon halves in a clearbowl of water.

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

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

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