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The trick to keeping flowers you plan to arrange fresh and giving them longer life after they are cut is to always cut them early in the morning. Use a sharp knife or scissors and place the flowers immediately in tepid water. If the flowers you are cutting have woody stems simply scrape a bit of bark from the base to help them absorb water. If you plan to use flowers that are purchased from a florist pick blossoms that are just beginning to open. Allow all the flowers you will be using to sit in deep water for several hours prior to starting your arrangement. When you are ready to make the arrangement clip each stem bottom off then slightly angle cut the stem to make it easier to press into a floral pin holder or foam. Strip away any leaves that would be under the water in the vase or container you are using for your arrangement and be sure your container or vase is thoroughly clean.

Most area craft shops or florists will carry the items you will need to make any floral arrangement. As a base to hold flowers in place you can use florist foam, florist clay or a pin holder. Any container can be used to make a floral arrangement but whatever you choose to use should be on the scale and proportion of the arrangement you are planning. The container will also need to hold water with no leaks and should be made of a material that will not rust or corrode. If the container is metal you might consider purchasing a plastic liner that will fit snuggly inside it. Glue the liner to the container at least 24 hours before you start your arrangement. When using a pin holder you will need to anchor it with florist clay to the bottom of the container you are using. If using floral foam you will need to soak it for several hours until it is thoroughly wet before packing it tightly into the vase or container so that it will not wobble.

Any floral arrangement should have an overall sense of balance. This balance can be symmetrical, as in a round or triangular center piece or asymmetrical, as in a scheme of three beautifully shaped branches and one glorious blossom. Be sure the scale and proportion of the flowers are appropriate to one another as well as to the setting and container you are using. Your arrangement should have a combination of a variety of colors, textures, and patterns within the unified scheme. Begin by massing the smaller flowers or using a few of the more dramatic flowers to provide a focal point to unify several different varieties. Place only a few stalks to establish the overall shape and then add filling materials such as greenery or relatively inconspicuous flowers. At the heart of your arrangement strategically place the most dramatic of your flowers and then check the arrangements from all sides to see if you need additional color or filler. The addition of a floral bow to the container is perfectly fine if it does not take the focus away from the scheme of your arrangement. When the flowers are arranged to your satisfaction add tepid water to the container and drop in an aspirin to extend the life of the blooms.

If you are arranging dried flowers you will need to follow the directions above for preparing your container with the exception of using water. If you are drying your own flowers for the arrangement they should be cut in the early morning hours. A good trick for working with dried flowers is to place them in a container that is 1\2 water and 1\2 glycerine for several days. The flowers will absorb the glycerine with the water and then when they are dried they will have an almost rubbery texture. Be sure to remove any leaves or stem pieces that you will not want to use in your arrangement prior to soaking the flowers. This technique tends to keep the blooms from dropping so easily. After the flowers have soaked, hang each stem up- side down in a dry area and allow to thoroughly dry for approximately seven days. If you are in a humid area you will need to allow the flowers to dry longer.

Use the same technique and principles for making a dried flower arrangement as you have when using fresh cut flowers. Fern can be dried by using the water and glycerine method to use as filler in a dried arrangement. If you prefer to purchase your dried flowers decide on the color, shape and proportion of you arrangement before you buy the flowers. Pick out the more dramatic blossoms first and then decide what small flowers you will need to off set the larger ones. Choose a light filler that will not make your arrangement to bunchy. Dried flowers look better in arrangements that are some what light and airy.