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To give mums and daisies a bit of pizzazz, put them in a clear glass vessel.
Here's how: Line a vase with fall leaves. Choose blossoms of different shapes and sizes. Cut stems to varying lengths. Rest a layer of shorter stems against the rim of the vase. Next insert a second layer of flowers on top of the first. Add the tallest, packing tightly to hide any gaps. Then randomly add sprigs of leaves and carefully fill container with water.
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Brighten up a space just like that with a hot orange and purple combo.
Here's how: Use orange marigolds and mums for the dominant color and purple anemones and lavender spider mums as accents. Cut to various lengths. Angle the shorter blooms around the perimeter of the vase, rotating the container. Fill out the middle with flowers of different heights, adding the tallest flowers last.
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Into the Woods
Inspired by a walk through the trees, this earthy mix takes on a modern vibe when arranged in a white glass vase.
Here's how: Group a bunch of lilies, roses, and ranunculus together, stems evenly cut. Then randomly add long sprigs of rose hips.
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Big, beautiful red amaryllis paired with white accents makes for a show-stopping holiday bouquet.
Here's how: In a tall vase, start with two or three amaryllis in the center, stems tied together with string. Then work down in a pyramid fashion adding filler flowers like white and red lilies, calla lilies, and tulips. Trim stems to the desired heights as you go. Continue to fill gaps with bunches of smaller flowers. Insert a couple of extra amaryllis here and there.
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An easy way to make green and purple really pop: Select blossoms in a range of shades from light to dark.
Here's how: Start with the largest flowers first, the spider mums. Fan them out inside a container along the rim. Add in button mums and carnations. Fill in any gaps with thistle.
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Like a string of pearls, a white arrangement is a classic. Select several variations in tone and shape to keep the cluster super casual, not stiff.
Here's how: Trim roses, ranunculus, and anemones to similar heights and group loosely in vase. Add longer-stemmed freesia and parrot tulips randomly to soften the bouquet.
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Like putting a twist on a basic dress, you can give roses a glam new look by cutting them short and clustering them in a tight bouquet.
Here's how: Soak a precut flower frog containing floral foam in water until saturated. Cut the rose stems very short, leaving just enough stem to insert into the foam. Place stems close together to form a dense, rounded bouquet. Put in container.
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Lend some woodsy charm to a room with Mother Nature's brilliant foliage.
Here's how: Select branches and leaves with good shape and color. Hold leafy branches in your hands beside the vessel to determine how much to cut. Then lay them down and snip off bottoms. Trim stems with berries such as firethorn, bittersweet, or holly and add to container to fill out holes in arrangement. A tall, thick glass or ceramic vase anchors long branches. Clip individual leaves from branches and place in a smaller vase.
FYI: Bittersweet is widely available in the fall at craft stores as well as at florists and nurseries.
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Garnet-tinged hydrangeas clipped from a garden bush make for a lush bouquet.
Here's how: Cut the woody hydrangea stems to various lengths, place on a flat surface, and smash the ends with a hammer to allow better water absorption. Arrange the stems like pencils in a jar. Fill in gaps between the bigger blooms with small mums.
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Here's a display that's easy as pie. Select apples without blemishes—and if you've picked your own, add a dried leaf or two.
Here's how: Wash small Lady apples as well as larger baking varieties and dry thoroughly. Place in a clear container, like a glass hurricane or tall vase.
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Try a mixed bouquet of casual ranunculus and stately orchids inspired by the fiery range of autumn hues.
Here's how: After snipping stems, place ranunculus in water in a tall container to keep them from flopping. Slip a couple of orchid stems between the flowers to give the bouquet height.
FYI: Look for a common orchid variety like Dendrobium, which is easy to find and can last for up to two weeks in water.
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With their dark good looks, wine-colored flowers, tiny grapes, and foliage from backyard shrubs can play a starring role on any table. For a foolproof bouquet, mix flowers and leaves of the same shade.
Here's how: We used chocolate cosmos, burgundy pincushion flowers, coleus, purple kale, smokebush, and grapes. Cut the stems to varying lengths—anywhere from 4 to 6 inches taller than the vase—leaving the cosmos and pincushions longest. Angle the coleus, kale, and smokebush leaves around the perimeter of the vase, putting some on one side, rotating the container, then adding more to the other side until the vase is filled. Position a few taller stems of cosmos and pincushions at different heights in the middle, and tuck grapes at intervals throughout.
FYI: Before arranging, snip stems at a 45-degree angle and remove the leaves that fall below the waterline—submerged foliage can rot.
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Branch out from traditional greens with a wreath of seasonal colors and textures. Bittersweet is widely available in the fall at craft stores as well as at florists and nurseries.
Here's how: Working in one direction, twist two 3-foot-long branches of bittersweet together into a circle. Secure ends with floral wire. Insert Chinese lanterns into the wreath at desired intervals and trim any small stems that stick out.
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Cluster a variety of gorgeous burgundy blooms in a rustic vase for a dramatic effect.
Here's how: Cut dahlia, chrysanthemum, and hydrangea stems to about 4 to 6 inches taller than the vase. Start with shorter stems and build up with longer ones, angling a couple of large blooms at the rim of the vase. Create a rounded shape by inserting longer-stemmed dahlias, mums, and hydrangeas, rotating the container as you work. Cut stems of viburnum berries and amaranthus to about 6 inches, and insert at regular intervals throughout—don't worry about symmetry.
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Center of Attention
Sunflowers take on a grand appearance when combined with bunches of wild grasses, and a low, wide arrangement is a perfect centerpiece because it won't block your guests' view across the table.
Here's how: Cut a chunk of floral foam to sit flush with the rim of the bowl and soak it in water until saturated. Cut the stems of five or six small sunflowers to about 6 inches and insert them into the foam at intervals. Then fill in with dill, ornamental grasses, and millet to form an oblong shape. Snip stems as you go, leaving them longer on the outside and shorter on top. Tuck craspedia into the bouquet at intervals.
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A monochromatic grouping of two types of tall-stemmed flowers in glass vessels makes a smashing statement. Narrow-necked vases work best to keep long-stemmed flowers from drooping.
Here's how: Fill three vases with water and place two stems of gloriosa and one Chinese lantern into each vase. For an architectural look, trim stems to varying heights. Arrange in a row along the length of a table or mantel.
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Goldenrod can be a great mixer, but the plumes of brilliant yellow also look stunning on their own.
Here's how: Cut a chunk of floral foam to fit snugly into the bottom of a footed vase and soak in water. Trim the stems of goldenrod so that they're about twice as tall as the height of the vessel, leaving only a few leaves on each stem. Insert flowers into the foam starting vertically at the top and angling them at the sides; turn the vase while you work. Fill in stems throughout to create a semicircular shape.
FYI: When using a shallow container, make an "X" with floral tape across the top of the foam and fasten it over the lip of the vessel to secure.
Originally published in the October 17, 2010, October 17, 2009, and October 17, 2008, issues of Family Circle magazine.