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If arranging fresh flowers is a daunting prospect to you, it may be because you’re overdoing it. The loose informality of a hand-picked bouquet is very appealing. Whether you pick from your own garden or buy a handful of loose blossoms from the florist, there are some ways to simplify the use of cut flowers.

Use containers with narrow openings. It will take fewer flowers to fill the mouth of the vase this way, making the arrangement process less complicated. This doesn’t necessarily limit you to tiny bud vases -- many pitchers and other household containers have broad bases and narrow mouths.

Use waterpicks to tuck a few fresh blossoms into houseplants. A waterpick is a small vial that holds water and a cut flower or two, yet is easily hidden among the foliage of a potted plant. Try adding a lily, rose or other blossom that echoes your interior colors to a potted ivy or philodendron. (Waterpicks are readily available from florists.)

Rather than a complicated mixed arrangement, opt for a simple grouping. Gather together a half dozen bottles or bud vases, outfit each one with a single blossom, then cluster them on a silver tray or mirrored tile. This technique makes a lovely, low centerpiece that can be thrown together in minutes. An attractive variation would be to use glass votives, some filled with flowers or greenery and some filled with candles.

Don’t forget about foliage. You can use greenery to get a fresh, outdoorsy effect even if your yard doesn’t yield armfuls of flowers. Try filling silver bowls with the jade green foliage of pachysandra or arranging glossy magnolia leaves in soup tureens. Even the shadiest yards can offer a good supply of ferns and hosta leaves for cutting. If you don’t have a lot of flowers, you can fill your container with greenery first, and then tuck in a few blooms for bright spots of color.

Use fruits and vegetables for creative, “living” vases. Start a centerpiece with a fresh cabbage, then tuck small roses (stems enclosed in waterpicks) in among its leaves. The ornamental kales available in the fall are especially colorful in an arrangement like this. An apple, pear, or lemon can also be hollowed out just enough to hold a waterpick -- start with firm, not quite ripe fruit.

Anchor mixed arrangements by placing the visual “weight” at the bottom. This could mean either large blooms like sunflowers, or chunky foliage like aucuba. Tall, thin elements like the spires of snapdragons or arching stems of spirea foliage are best placed at the top.