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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.
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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.
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In this arrangement, our in-house crafter and stylist Aaron Caramanis used sweet peas, red and pink amnesia roses, hyacinths, and ruskas, the perfect combination for an arrangement any woman would love.
Photography: Christopher Baker4 of 12
A Classic Tulip Arrangement
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.
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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.
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Photography: EARL CARTER6 of 12
An Arrangement with Height
An arrangement in a Japanese bronze container includes bold hues of hollyhocks, sunflowers, sweet peas, and angelica.
Photography: EARL CARTER7 of 12
A formal English-style bouquet uses only four types of flowers -- dahlias, gladiolus, bupleurum, and a hybrid aster -- but this result, all in red, is spectacular.
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Tall Arrangement with Crocosmia
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.
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A pumpkin is turned into a perfect vase for fall. Then we filled it with seasonal flowers such as as red dahlias, cockscombs, rose hips, and mini crab apples.
Photography: Ellie Miller10 of 12
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.
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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.
Photography: Frederic Lagrange12 of 12
A large Staffordshire tureen, fitted with a giant floral frog, is the perfect vessel for a stunning arrangement of three unusual fall blooms: striped dahlias in orange and white, red papery Chinese lanterns stripped of all leaves, and dill gone to yellow flower heads.