Summer Flower Arrangements
Tropical Aquatic Arrangement
Some tropical aquatic plants, such as the water hyacinth, get their nutrients from water and require no soil to thrive. This South American native can't handle a freeze, so in Zones 8 and colder, many gardeners keep it as a temporary display for just one season, treating it like an annual.
Hand-picked flowers placed in basic vessels can be just as beautiful as carefully-arranged flowers. This barn-board table at Beetlebung, a farm on Martha's Vineyard, is decorated with dahlias, pink daisies, and lavender grown on the property.
White porcelain woodland vases filled with greenery and berries from the gardens at Skylands greeted guests for a breakfast to celebrate Martha's birthday.
Looking for a last-minute arrangement? Dress up a plain table, like the greenhouse table here, with fresh-picked flowers.
When a vessel is this distinctive, its form and color practically dictate what kinds of displays to create. Martha's blue-glazed ceramic shell evokes summer at the beach, a time and place indelibly associated with billowing hydrangeas. Luxuriant cuttings from three cultivars, along with some leaves, supply the structure of this design. Airy pink gomphrena and white Cimicifuga cap the sea foam with spray.
Allium and Hosta Arrangement
At this time of year, it's tempting to create an everything-in-the-vase display that rivals perennial borders at their June peak. But indoors, simpler can be better. Consider combining just a couple of fine specimens: the amazing varieties of one flower, such as alliums, and the gorgeous foliage of another, such as hosta. We used a fluted white vase to focus attention on subtle color harmonies and contrasting silhouettes. On a practical note, alliums need frequent water changes, so refill the vase daily.
This display showcases the unrestrained beauty of hydrangeas. An armful of the flowers overflows a generous glazed-iron urn-shaped vase in an effortlessly elegant way. Tendrils of clematis winding through the blooms emphasize the cottage-garden feeling.
A yellowware kitchen bowl of late-summer dahlias would certainly be lovely enough on its own, but adding a contrasting element -- here, wispy asparagus fronds -- make the hot colors and spiky forms even more striking.
Fiery Flowers Display
Inexpensive and readily available, spider mums can be tinted to look like fireworks. Group blooms of different colors in assorted vessels for a dazzling display.
Try making an arrangement with different flowers in similar shades. Here, hydrangeas and clematis in purple tones look unified yet diverse. The aqua-colored McCoy bowl peeking out is a bright surprise.
Arrangement with Alstoemeria and Hosta
Use a massive gathering of a single type of flower for a big impact. Dainty alstroemeria make much more of an impression when grouped by the dozen. A neat dome of them -- with every leaf removed -- is softened by a cuff of chartreuse hosta leaves.
Casual Garden Display
Actually an assemblage of several smaller and more manageable arrangements, the setup offers an easy way to tame a fresh-from-the-garden mix of roses, hydrangeas, delphiniums, lady's mantle, scented geraniums, and potato vine. A pitcher in the center gives height, while kitchen crocks (sugar bowls, eggcups) allow the inclusion of short-stemmed beauties.
Various colors of hydrangeas take on a stately elegance when grouped together in a tall vase.
Watering Can Arrangement
Even humble watering cans take on a new life when filled with fresh cuttings.
Jewel-Toned Flower Arrangement
Like a tapestry, this bouquet is a celebration of rich hues and textures. Round 'Autumn Joy' and fuzzy fuchsia Celosia provide fullness, while snowberries and blue 'Indigo Spires' function as accents.
Fourth of July Flowers
This summery bouquet mimics fireworks in the sky on the Fourth of July. Silver echinops (also known as globe thistle) and spiky, steel-blue eryngium (or sea holly) mingle with feathery white flowering astilbe. All can be found in farmers' markets and are easy to grow. Cut stems at an angle, and anchor them in a vase using a flower frog. Finish with astilbe foliage and sparklerlike Queen Anne's lace (if planting your own, skip Daucus carota, an invasive weed; instead, try its better-behaved cousin Ammi majus) to set off those big, booming blossoms.
Simple Dahlia Arrangement
For this elegant centerpiece, we snipped a single dahlia bloom and set it in a pressed-glass sugar bowl. When setting a flower upon the rim of a cup or small bowl, be sure to leave an inch or so of stem attached, so the bloom can continue to drink.
Flower Arrangement in a Pitcher
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. It is the perfect arrangement for outdoor entertaining. An abundance of maroon cosmos mingles with rich indigo larkspur, their stems listing and leaning in the soft, warm breeze.
Simple Delphinium Arrangement
Cultivating delphiniums can be challenging. Fortunately, all it takes is a single spire to create drama. Here, a narrow-necked vessel holds the stem, and the violet-tinged glass echoes the petals' color.
Seashell Flower Arrangement
Make waves with this unique flower arrangement set in a shell. We used variegated hosta leaves and frilly ferns cup a green-and-white cluster of Queen Anne's lace.
Nasturtiums Arrangement from Martha's Garden
Martha bunched long-stemmed trailing nasturtiums in bright oranges and yellows then placed them in a Japanese bowl and surrounded them with love in a puff (Cardiospermum halicacabum).
At Skylands, in Maine, Fitzhugh vases, a type of Chinese export porcelain, are filled with the foliage of caladium, kiwi, Swiss chard, and amaranth, and the seed heads of aruncus, clematis, and lilies.
Cake Stand Arrangement
A cake stand holds small dishes, a bud vase, and large saltcellars filled with dahlias, sweet peas, and sedum.
Mauve and Purple Arrangement
A fine French footed porcelain bowl overflows with clematis, ageratum, bachelor's buttons, sweet peas, and leaves of eryngium and heuchera, making a varied and beautiful display of mauve.
An Arrangement with Height
An arrangement in a Japanese bronze container includes hollyhocks, sunflowers, sweet peas, and angelica.
A formal English-style bouquet uses only four types of flowers -- dahlias, gladiolus, bupleurum, and a hybrid aster -- but the result is spectacular.
Two Modern Arrangements
Two unglazed porcelain faux-bois vases hold foxgloves, a lovely cultivated Queen Anne's lace called ammi, and the pom-pom-like flowers of echinops.
Van Gogh-Inspired Arrangement
Our ode to Van Gogh: a deep bowl mounded with a variety of garden sunflowers, along with yarrow, zinnias, goldenrod, and heleniums.
Few of us think to use clematis as cut flowers, but they are excellent as such. Mixed with hosta leaves, irises, and love-in-a-mist seed heads, the flowers are superb.
A Perfect Match
This Japanese bowl was given to Martha many years ago. "When I received it, I had never seen a yellow, peach, or mauve tree peony, but obviously the painter of the bowl had," says Martha. "Finally my tree peonies matured and now provide blooms of almost the same colors."
Arranging roses is a glorious task, especially when they are homegrown and scented. David Austin roses make a beautiful display combined with ‘Limelight’ licorice plant, tiny lady’s mantle, puffy canary grass, and fuzzy, fragrant geranium leaves.
Lilacs from the Garden
Lilac's subtle color variations are perfect for creating painterly, layered arrangements.
Gather blooms in two or more hues and group them by color gradation in a heavy vase. Retain some of the leaves on the shortest stems -- they'll form a bottom border of green. Display the composition in a foyer or another public space, where its heady scent and explosive beauty will dazzle guests.