Eclectic Flower Arrangements

Flower arranging is a classic skill, but what if your style isn't classic? Those of us with more eclectic tastes can still produce super easy and incredibly stunning arrangements that would make even your oh-so-classy mother happy.

Reverse Thinking

Out-of-the-ordinary arrangements are about fun colors and unconventional vases.

-- A vintage mold forms the unusual container for this bunch.

-- Choose familiar flowers in fresh colors, such as green glads and hydrangeas, blue asters, and pincushion flowers.

-- "Stripe" the arrangement by alternating green and purple flowers, rimming the sides with geranium leaves.

Think Inside the Vase

Make your guests look twice at this quirky arrangement.

-- Twist a small palm frond or banana leaf into a tall cylinder vase as a backdrop for a delicate white orchid branch.

-- Float a single blossom at the bottom of the vase.

Glass Acts

Everyday containers such as carafes and vases can make ideal terrariums.

-- After washing the container (a large vase, bowl, or cloche works well), lay half an inch of aquarium gravel for drainage.

-- Sprinkle with fine charcoal, then top with a light, moist, peat-based packaged potting soil.

-- Plant a shallow-root plant in the soil. Try (from left) a miniature guzmania bromeliad; maidenhair fern and selaginella; and a mix of selaginellas, button fern, and variegated dizygotheca.

Bouquet Leftovers

This simple idea is great for using the last few perky blooms from a bouquet that's long since faded.

-- Place half an inch of water in a tabletop dish.

-- Cut stems to one inch (gladiolas, shown here, work great).

-- Cradle the blooms in the dish and place on a small table.

Now Serving Green

A cloche over a cake stand makes a fashionable ad hoc terrarium.

-- Lay half an inch of aquarium gravel on the cake stand for drainage.

-- Sprinkle with fine charcoal, then top with a light, moist, peat-based packaged potting soil.

-- Set a jewel orchid, arrow-leaf ferns, and 'Chocolate Stars' cryptanthus inside.

-- Cover with cloche, brushing away any remaining gravel off the cake stand.

Cluster for Impact

Why mess with stems or arranging at all?

-- Cut the stems of textured flowers an inch or so below the head of the flower.

-- Add an inch of water to a large cylinder vase (or a large trifle bowl from your kitchen) and build up a mound of stones in the vase.

-- Cover it with the flowers, nestling the stems in between the stones.

Glads on Board

Here's a beautiful and unusual centerpiece that's low enough to enhance rather than impede sight lines between dinner guests.

-- Fill a boat-shape baking dish with enough water to supply cut gladiolus stems, which are simply laid in place, first one way and then the other.

-- Wrap jute garden twine around the dish at three points to secure the stems and add texture.

-- To take the arrangement one step further, float individual gladiolus florets in water-filled votives at each place setting.

Free Falling

If your style is unstudied and spontaneous (either by choice or by time constraints), try this one-minute arrangement.

-- Start with a ready-made mixed bunch of flowers and a wide cylinder vase or glass bowl.

-- Choose one or two stems to stand tall but not taller than the vase.

-- Cut the rest of the stems short and float the blooms in a small amount of water in the bottom of the vase.

Budget-Friendly Greenhouse

Grow your own tiny plant collection in a makeshift terrarium.

-- Lay half an inch of aquarium gravel in an inexpensive bowl vase (find one at hobby and discount stores) for drainage.

-- Sprinkle with fine charcoal, then top with a light, moist, peat-based packaged potting soil.

-- Fill with plants that stay small, grow slowly, have shallow roots, and love high humidity and low light.

-- Cover the top with a dollar-store glass plate.

Fruit Gone Mod

Bring even more color and shape to an arrangement by stuffing the vase.

-- Layer two square glass vases -- one 6 inches, one 4 inches -- and float slices of tiny key limes in water between the two.

-- Fill the smaller vase with energetic colors and shapes. We used a wild mix of orange roses, red peonies, electric purple Allium, lime green Dendrobium, deep purple salvias, and red geraniums.

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