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Outdoor gatherings call for nature-inspired, easy-to-assemble arrangements. After all, you want the setting to be the star. Our ideas are as uncomplicated as they are beautiful.
Water plants become gorgeous centerpieces when placed in clear vessels.
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Whether the materials come from your backyard or a garden center, it's easy to incorporate natural elements into the centerpiece of an alfresco dinner. Position stones down the middle of an outdoor table, and intersperse bunches of cushion moss (buy it from a reputable center, as some moss species are protected). Place votive candles along the sides to cast a warm glow over the arrangement.
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Checkered Moss Centerpiece
Give your outdoor table a lush centerpiece with a fun, graphic twist. Fill a galvanized-metal planter (available at garden centers) with fresh potting soil. Inside, arrange Irish moss in two shades (we used dark-green Sagina subulata and chartreuse S. subulata 'Aurea') to create a checkerboard pattern. After a few days, plant the moss in your yard.
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For these groupings of trailing sweet autumn clematis, passionflower vines, and figs, a row of cake stands and pedestal candleholders shielded by hurricane glasses lets the greenery flow.
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What could be easier than floating a few fresh garden roses, nasturtiums, and phlox in small bowls of water? But that's more than enough when they're placed upon a platform of pretty vintage tiles that serves as both a table runner and a trivet.
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An inspired arrangement of fiery coral and candles is a perfect complement to the coastal setting.
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Punctuate your table with arrangements that conjure stunning fireworks: Featured here are agapanthus, allium, and globe thistle.
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This bouquet of late-blooming annuals -- cut from the garden and tucked into an ironstone vessel alongside a compote of blueberries -- is at once lively and serene. An abundance of maroon cosmos mingles with rich indigo larkspur, their stems listing and leaning in the soft, warm breeze. It is the perfect arrangement for outdoor entertaining.
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Vases of varying sizes, shapes, and materials can be unified with mere paper bags to serve as fresh, bright centerpieces at a casual party. Slip the plain white lunch bags over the containers and cinch the tops loosely with ribbons tied in bows.
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Create an arrangement of lush hosta leaves and lavender hydrangeas, fitted into a tree-trunk-inspired vase.
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Floating Flowers Platter Centerpiece
Float flowers like these peonies in small bowls, and arrange them with votive candles for a quick, modern centerpiece using a simple, white platter. On a long table, you can place a few platters down the middle.
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From soil to center stage: Pick whatever's the most fragrant from your garden and tame it into a centerpiece, perfect for your outdoor table setting. Shown here is a mix of roses, hydrangeas, delphiniums, lady's mantle, scented geraniums, and potato vine.
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Parade of Blooms
Delicate and airy, this centerpiece composed of single blossoms lets you make the most of a limited group of flowers. Showcase each one -- we used dahlias and garden roses -- in clear glass vessels, such as bud vases, jars, or even drinking glasses. To accentuate the arrangement, set the flowers on a runner with a hue that contrasts the color of the tablecloth.
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When herb gardens overflow with more than is needed in any kitchen, why not use the extra yield in a fragrant centerpiece? Mix shapes and textures, and add color with edible flowers and herb blossoms. This arrangement, which includes dill, rosemary, mint, basil, thyme, lavender, nasturtiums, and flowering herbs, sits in a high-sided bowl; a smaller bowl within keeps the stems in place. But a vase, pitcher, or jar would work just as well.
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Tropical Fruit Centerpiece
Set in a carved-out log, this edible centerpiece features an arrangement of melons, pineapples, and other tropical fruits. Orchids fitted into floral vials and citrus leaves are then tucked into the crevices.
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Create a pretty summery scene by placing brightly hued long-stemmed blooms in decorative bottles and floating single blossoms in small bowls.