flowers

Looking for the perfect centerpiece or accent for your summer entertaining? From barbecues to soirees, you can make a masterful floral bouquet on the cheap (or even on the free!) that’ll look like it came from the best florist in town. Whether you’re picking yard flowers, harvesting wildflowers or grabbing a couple of inexpensive bunches at the market, you can get a fabulous centerpiece done in no time. Here’s how.

Flower-picking tips

Skip the baby’s breath: It’s weird, it’s kind of cheesy and you do not need it.

Stick with likes: You don’t need to represent every flower on the continent. In fact, one species alone can look far more gorgeous than a mix. This makes putting your bouquet together quite simple. Come across a field of wild daisies? They’d be great for a child’s birthday or just to freshen up your table. Or mix flowers but stick with same colors, like pink roses, tulips or hydrangeas for a simple and elegant bouquet.

Perfecting colors: White is ideal for elegant evening events, or romantic nights. Think tulips, roses and lilies. Use yellows and brighter colors for more festive occasions. A sunflower bouquet is the perfect centerpiece for an afternoon picnic or Fourth of July throw-down. Reds, purples and pinks are great for most anything else! Use green trims sparingly or not at all.

Don’t spend too much: Seriously. You can get a dozen roses (sometimes two!) for $10 or even several bunches of other flowers for the same price.

Putting it together

Ditch the vase: Try urns, bowls and non-traditional repurposed vessels for your bouquets. They’ll add an eco-chic quality to the arrangement.

Use an oasis: That spongy foam stuff most bouquets come in is really easy to use and will help you build a big rounded bouquet. It’s essential in non-traditional vessels, like bowls, where you don’t have much height, and you have a lot of side area to cover. Place the foam brick in the center and tape it in if it needs more stability (do this in a grid pattern). Then insert your flowers into the oasis, making sure to fill them all the way down to the edge of the vessel and that the flower lengths are consistent.

Keep in mind, they are reusable. So use and use and use, until you can use no more!

Hide your stems: If you’re using glass, you can hide the murky water and stems with a big, broad leaf. If you don’t have something from your yard, get one at most florists. Fit it so that it wraps around the inside of the vase before adding your flowers and it will block the stems from view.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Photo: D’Arcy Norman