By Louise Whiteside

It’s a special occasion, maybe your birthday or an anniversary. When answering the door, you’re handed a long, rectangular box by a delivery man. The perfumed scent emanating from the box nearly stops your breath. You open the box to discover a dozen deep scarlet, long-stemmed roses. My guess is that you feel warm, maybe a bit tearful. Those beautiful roses remind you that you are especially dear to someone.
Here’s another scenario: You’ve just returned from a shopping trip to the farmer’s market. You’re carrying an armload of fresh, white daisies poking their heads out of a large, brown paper bag. The sight of the daisies makes you smile.
Flowers! How they speak without words and how they beautify our world. No doubt cut flowers are a part of your life: They add grace to your living space. They signal to guests that you’ve taken a little extra trouble to honor their presence.
Flowers are exquisite just as they are, but the way you choose to display them can say much about you. Picture, for example, the long-stemmed, scarlet roses you’ve just received, standing regally in a shimmering silver pitcher on your coffee table. Do they make a statement of formality and elegance? Now visualize those dainty white daisies peering over the sides of a large, rustic wicker basket, or extending their long necks out of a tarnished copper teakettle on the floor of your deck. Do they send a message of cheer and hospitality to your luncheon guests?
In setting a mood, containers are almost as important as your flowers. In the same way that you’d adorn a simple black dress with lovely jewelry, so might you choose the perfect vase to show off your beautiful blooms. And, just as you wouldn’t want your jewelry to overpower your dress, neither would you want your container to drown out your flowers. While your flowers should take center stage, a striking vase can do much to enhance their charm.
Think about it: What kind of mood does a cut crystal vase stir in you? How about a crockery cookie jar? A wicker basket? A white enamel teakettle? And think about the occasion: Formal or casual? Joyous or solemn? Stately or whimsical? What container makes the right statement? Consider its size, shape and material.
Vessels for your cut flowers can be found everywhere: In your basement, in your attic, at yard sales, in antique shops or in your kitchen cabinet. Pairing the ideal container with the perfect flower arrangement can be a fine art or a playful adventure.
Try to imagine the types of flowers that might fit with the following standard types of vases:
Clear glass or crystal
Ornate patterned china
Terra-cotta flowerpots
Silver or brass pitchers

Or experiment with the following “fun” types of containers:

Jugs, crocks and kettles
Coffee cups
Soup tureens
Unusual colored bottles
Cut glass or silver punch bowls
Ordinary drinking glasses

After you’ve stretched your imagination and unearthed the most unlikely containers, experiment with the many ways you can decorate and adorn them.
For example, decorate the insides of your containers: Place a few drops of food coloring in the water to match or complement the colors of your flowers, e.g., a pale purple coloring with white lilies; a pale pink with dark pink roses, etc.
Drop some fresh cranberries into the bottom of a clear glass vase before inserting your flowers. (Hint: tulips are a good choice for this type of arrangement, preferring an acidic environment.) Not only are the berries a novel conversation piece; they can also serve to anchor your stems. Drop any of the following into the bottom of a transparent glass vase:
Decorative buttons
Glass beads
River rocks
A piece of pretty glass jewelry
Or decorate the outsides of your containers:
Wrap with pretty fabric remnants (seal with two-sided tape)
Attach leaves or stems to the outside of a plain glass jar
Wrap a container with bright green moss (tie with raffia)
Wrap a drinking glass with shiny gift-wrap (tie with ribbon)
Find an endless array of pressure-sensitive stickers at your craft store (butterflies, snowflakes, stars, hearts, or your choice)
Remember, when selecting vessels, be sure that your flowers – not their containers – are the stars of the show. A vase should enhance and complement a flower arrangement, not overwhelm it.
These suggestions are only meant to pique your imagination. Your individual style and preference will lead you into infinite possibilities.

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