Stiff long-stemmed roses can seem as generic as a drugstore valentine. But a few flourishes transform the cliche into a caress. The impromptu charm of a variegated rose (here, white-and-pink 'Henri Matisse') highlights the intensity of its crimson companions. For an informal profusion of blooms, cut the stems short and at staggered lengths. Another good trick (for this and many other arrangements): Let flowers and foliage gently hang over the edge of the container. This eliminates the dividing line between vase and arrangement, resulting in a softer look.
Dahlias are very exuberant and seduce the eye, so it is better to get playful than to try to control their shape in a static arrangement. Use one color as a base, we used red here, playing with another on top -- it's almost impossible to go wrong and you'll get a gorgeous piece.
Red tulips join their spring garden companions in a display by Tineke Geerlings, a Dutch floral arranger. ‘Cairo,’ ‘Apricot Parrot,’ ‘Princess Unique,’ ‘Sensual Touch,’ ‘Teletubbie,’ viburnum, apple blossoms, hosta leaves, and hellebores fill a vase by designer Hella Jongerius.
Red crocosmia is the perfect flower for this arrangement because of its graceful stems. Here, we let long stems arch out of a trumpet vase for an ethereal arrangement. Shorter cuttings of maidenhair fern float beneath the blooms. Echo the idea with smaller vessels -- parfait glasses work perfectly -- holding just a few stems.
A floral arrangement becomes positively frightening when covered in creepy cobwebs. To make the webs, cut a 5-inch section from inexpensive or damaged white panty hose, and pull apart until it becomes wispy and resembles cobwebs. Stretch the material over a cluster of dark blooms (we used crimson roses and dahlias, as well as some fiddlehead ferns). Set on a sideboard, or on a dining table as a centerpiece.
This cast-iron urn with a weatherworn painted finish has just the right scale, palette, and presence for a riot of velvet-red kangaroo paws. A collar of chrysanthemums in the same autumnal tone provides a tidy transition between the container and the native Australian blooms, which can be ordered year-round from a florist.
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