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Flower Vase Basics

Martha Stewart Living, May 1998

When choosing a vase for cut flowers, consider the formality of the arrangement and the suitability of the vase, paying special attention to size and shape: Choose a container that is proportionate to the quantity of flowers you plan to use; a vase that is too large will make an arrangement look skimpy and bedraggled.

As for shape, select the one that best complements the blooms. Most vases fall into the following six basic categories.

The trumpet flares at the top: Flowers like these ranunculuses and snowdrops are especially pleasing when arranged to extend and accentuate the flare.

The spherical vase, in conjunction with flowers such as these anemones, creates a lush globe. A sphere with a medium-size opening and large interior will let stems spread out while keeping the flowers from flopping to the sides.

Always narrow at the top, the bottle is ideally suited for flowers such as this slim-stemmed flowering quince, which creates a dramatic effect even without foliage or masses of blooms.

The straight-sided cylinder, with no narrowing at the top to hold flowers in place, is best at showing off big bunches of blooms; flowers with unusual shapes and graceful tilts, such as these grape hyacinths, tulips, and anemonies, work well.

Low Pan
The low pan calls for just one or two floating flowers, anchored at the base with a frog. It is the only shape whose structure does not control or direct the stem.

The pail widens ever so slightly at the top, giving flowers some freedom. Arrangements look best when the flowers consume all of the pail's space -- as do these big, lush hydrangeas.

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